Gratitude for a Few Random Things that Made Me Happy Recently

I don’t have anything terribly insightful, exciting, novel, or interesting to share today but I do have some thoughts that I wanted to share. My hope is that by sharing my thoughts, those of you who read this will be able to find things for which to be grateful for in your own lives. Our personalities, circumstances, and interests may be completely different and our lives may look nothing alike. But like all people, you and I want the same thing, which is to be happy, even though what makes us happy may look different for each of us. The best way to be happy is to decide to be happy, and the best way to decide to be happy is to be grateful. Here is a collection of events and happenings that made me feel grateful and happy over the last 48 hours or so.

Seeing love and happiness in the lives of others. Yesterday I boarded a four-hour flight as I departed for a business related trip. Upon taking my seat I was initially dismayed to realize that I would be sharing a row with a young couple travelling with their very young child. I quickly checked myself for my initial negative reaction, first by reminding myself that these were just a few travelers like myself, just trying to get somewhere they wanted to be, and that as stressed as I might feel at having to be near their baby, they were probably more stressed as they navigated their journey while caring for their infant. Furthermore, why be angry or upset before anything even happens? The child slept the entire flight, as did mom and dad. Most of my time was spent watching the Matrix or reading my books. But every now and then I stole some glances at the sleeping family with the baby I came to realize was actually extremely adorable. They were clearly exhausted but looked so content and peaceful all scrunched together in the limited space of our economy-seating. When the flight landed we exchanged a few pleasantries about our reasons for travelling before parting for good. I will probably never see them again and I don’t know their names, but for that brief moment our lives intersected and it brought me great joy to see love and happiness for others. I wish them well.

Last night’s Suns vs Clippers game was a nail-biter 

Live sports and fans. The corona virus pandemic may not yet be over but while some places continue to struggle, by and large the world as a whole is healing and returning to normal. During the day I watched several soccer games in the UEFA cup with partially full stadiums and last night I watched the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers in a last-second buzzer beating game winning shot in front of a sold out crowd. I happen to be in Phoenix, and although I was unable to score tickets, it was really fun to enjoy the game with some friends/clients who have recently moved here and to talk about the game with my driver as I rode back to my hotel. Are there more important things in life than sports? Absolutely. But it felt good to put aside my cares and concerns for a few hours and simply enjoy some simple distractions with good people. It felt nice to have the most divisive issue amongst us be what team we were cheering for rather than the litany of other issues it sometimes feel like are cutting the world in half. I am glad that sports are back and that people are able to enjoy the games live and in-person once again.

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. This is an old saying of my father’s that he adopted from his many years travelling as a salesman. I tend to be more on the introverted side, at least until I feel comfortable around someone, but am making efforts to be more outgoing, friendly, and engaging with random people, I feel that the world needs more positive interactions and so I am attempting to do my part. Today I sat at the bar of a local restaurant for breakfast. I had a brief moment of interaction with the two friends enjoying a meal together as I asked if I could take the seat next to them. A few pleasantries and courtesies were exchanged after-which point it seemed like they would go about their meal and I would enjoy mine in silence alone – not something that bothers me as I am quite comfortable being alone. This time however, I didn’t feel like being alone. I decided I was going to force myself to interact with these guys, casually, and if they weren’t interested I would simply return to my coffee in solitude with nothing lost for the effort and no hard feelings. As it turned out, they were extremely friendly, somewhat older men who had been friends for a long time. They were airline pilots by trade and we talked at length about flying, the places we’ve been, and more. I have already forgotten their names as I am sure they have forgotten mine, and I have no idea where in the world they may have flown off to in the last 12 hours. Nevertheless, I was grateful to myself for practicing my outgoingness, grateful to those two men for their kindness and open-heartedness at letting me join their conversation, and grateful to be reminded that good, caring, people are all over the place, if you simply have the courage to open your eyes and find them.

 New dining experiences. At long last today, I was able to cross off a restaurant that had been on my bucket list probably since I first saw the Big Lebowski when I was 12 or 13 years old. That restaurant was In N Out Burger. This is one of the more widely acclaimed burger chains in the United States but I had never had the opportunity to enjoy it, as it is almost exclusively located in the southwest region of this country. Finally, I had that chance. I ordered two double-doubles: double patties with double cheese – one animal style (secret sauce), and one regular, an order of fries, and a coke. My first inclination was to compare the burger to other burgers, but I reminded myself that comparison often leads to unhappiness so instead I simply decided to enjoy the meal for what it was. It was a very enjoyable experience shared with two friends and I am grateful for the sustenance, the company, experience, and overall pleased with the experience. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to eat at this restaurant and would not be comfortable giving it my best burger in America stamp, but it was a very fun experience that I had looked forward to for a long time. 

One half of the loving pair that waits for me at home
Not to mention the loving family and friends I possess all over the world
count yourself lucky by the number of friends you have

Travelling is fun but coming home is better. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently travelling for work, an experience that I generally enjoy as it provides a nice break to the routine of my work week and often affords me the opportunity to visit new places and enjoy some nice meals on someone else’s dollar. Although I am not a huge fan of crowds, it made me happy to see the mass of people cramming through security at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, just the way they always used to, and it made me happy to see a full flight of people on the plane here to Phoenix even though I missed having that empty middle seat for extra arm room, with planes now having returned to full capacity. These are signs that things are getting better and people are back to safely doing the things they love. I have enjoyed the opportunity to see a new city here in Phoenix. I have spent some time in Arizona before but never in Phoenix. It is very different from Atlanta where I currently live and it is exciting to experience a new setting in a strange setting. As grateful as I am for the opportunity to travel, see friends, do important work for my company, and have new experiences, I miss my home. I used to not miss home because for me there didn’t feel like much of a home to go back to. Work travel was a way to escape from loneliness and added excitement to what was sadly an unenjoyable existence. That isn’t the case any longer. I have a lovely person and a four-legged hairy son waiting for me at home, and I look forward to coming back to them tomorrow.

We are all different people with different lives but we all want the same thing, happiness, even though it might show itself in different ways to all of us. Remember that you can make yourself happy. Choose to be happy rather than react to the world and see if it can make you happy. Take a good moment to think about your life of late and decide what you want to be grateful for. I know you can think of something.



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