Gratitude is a Choice

Gratitude is a ChoiceWhen I left out in the morning to make the commute to the city for my internship, the news predicted a huge snow storm. The snow was supposed to start at the very time I would be making my commute back to Jersey on public transit. I was hoping I’d beat the storm. I didn’t.

As soon as I left my internship and hit the pavement, the first flakes started to fall. I ran into Dunkin’ to grab a hot chocolate, so I wouldn’t freeze to death waiting for the bus. By the time I was crossing the street from Dunkin’ to my stop, the snow was already sticking. When the bus finally arrived, all I wanted was a warm seat. I didn’t know I’d always be getting a huge lesson in choosing gratitude.

The bus driver was going slowly, and the snow was coming down like crazy. Within the first 20 minutes or so of my commute, there was easily already half an inch of snow on the ground and it wasn’t letting up. No one on the roads was going more than 30 mph, and the commute that usually takes me 45 minutes was already hitting on an hour and a half. I was annoyed and freezing, and really just wanted to be home in bed. Just as we were about to enter my town, a sea of flashing red and blue lights met us head on. The storm had knocked out a traffic light, and police were there blocking the road.

The bus driver tried to avoid getting anymore lost than he already was on this detour, and take us back to a main road. By this point, everything is covered in fresh fluffy snow, and people were already out salting and shoveling. As the bus driver tried to make his way down the tight residential blocks, the man sitting opposite of me decided to take a phone call. Loudly. Letting all of us tired and cold commuters in on his conversation.

I took my headphones out when the lady sitting across from my starting shooting me looks of embarrassment and concern. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. The lovely man who was talking on the phone was now making rude comments about the bus driver. Not quite loud enough to make a scene, but loud enough to have every passenger left on the bus very uncomfortable. Luckily, the bus driver brushed it off, and didn’t say anything.

The guy continued for about 10 minutes like that, until the bus finally hit the main road and found his stop. When he got off, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The older woman who was shooting me concerning looks even yelled “hallelujah” once he was gone.

I got off the bus at my stop with two other men. We both thanked the bus driver over and over for getting us home safely, and for ignoring the rude man. One guy, a sweet older man, insisted on having me hold his arm to cross the snow-covered street. We said good bye and went our separate way as I headed towards home. My entire snowy walk back I thought about the man on the phone. Nothing annoys me more than when people are blatantly rude, especially to someone doing them a favor.

We were all cold, all tired, and all just wanted to get home. But we were all also grateful to be protected from the snow, with a ride that was safe and reliable. That’s when it hit me: having and showing gratitude is a choice. You should which things you’re going to glorify and which things you’re going to to put degrade. The man on the bus opted not to choose gratitude that day, and his ride (and a few of the overhearing passengers) was unpleasant because of it. Because the rest of us opted to choose gratitude, we were able to laugh and bond with one another.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you can either rejoice or complain, opt for gratitude. You, and the people around you will absolutely thank you for it.

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  1. I hate when things like that happen. It had absolutely nothing to do with the bus driver in the first place.

    • EXACTLY! I was happy that the man didn’t cause a big scene, but his comments were completely unneccesary.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly when you describe gratitude as a choice. Whenever I get caught up and frustrated wih the things that I’m currently experiencing. I often get really crabby and short tempered. But then I remembered, well I’m the one that made the decision to react so negatively. Often times when your loved ones aren’t around, life seems to be the one to put gratitude back on the forefront.

    I’m glad to read you are home safe and sound. I’m from Philadelphia, so I know all about crazy weather, public transportation and really obnoxious people on the bus. Stay safe and warm in this weather.

      • You are very welcome! I would be too if I was commuting in this horrible weather. PS. Which part of Philadelphia are you from? I’m from South Philly.

        • I’m not actually from Philadelphia, I’m a jersey girl! But I do go to school there, and intern in Old City.

          • Oh sweet! If you are ever in the mood to grab coffee or something, hit me up! ♥ May the force be with you this new semester.

  3. Oh my gosh, what an a***hole!! I can’t believe he said all of this when the bus driver was in ear shot, that really is appalling. We’ll done to the rest of you on trying to make up for this!

    • It was such an awkward situation! I couldn’t believe that an adult man could act so childish!

  4. You’re so right, Amber. Positivity definitely isn’t always the automatic response that we give when we hear bad news or are unhappy with the way situations are unfolding, but are choices that we make. Such an important reminder to always choose gratitude!

  5. Oooh, I like this change up and storytelling you did to express a lesson you learned! Gratitude is a choice and I think it takes some people (myself included) a long time to realize it. I think we’re so used to a certain flow of life that we can get entitled, rather than grateful. But even if we feel entitled, it’s no excuse for rudeness or disrespect!

    • I like how you describe it as a feeling of entitlement! That’s so true! We expect certain things to always work the way we planned or intended, and don’t take enough time to realize that we should be grateful for those things regardless!

  6. SUCH a great reminder. I often let myself get swept away in negativity and frustration, but it doesn’t help the situation or myself. Thank you for sharing this story, sister!

  7. This is great! I’m not a rude person, but I definitely would’ve been pretty annoyed and/or frustrated.

    • Even the most peaceful of personality type would have felt some type of way. So unnecessary.

  8. very true, when I lived in new york it often amazed me how self absorbed and rude people were to others. thanks for this reminder to be positive, and more importantly to be grateful and courteous to others

    • I find the same thing with people in the city going to school in Philadelphia. Everyone needs a bit of a gratitude adjustment, especially in the city. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  9. wonderfully worded, Amber! At work we had a customer today that just kept wanting us to do ridiculous things for their order and then even asked for free things on top of their order just because they wanted a “complimentary” dozen of cookies. I complained so much even though it didn’t directly affect me. I should have just opted for gratitude/better attitude…it would have made my co-workers a bit happier about the situation. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    • Hi Abby! So glad that you liked the post and could find a place for it in one of your own real-life situations.