We often associate the word ‘attitude’ as negative. I don’t know why, but it is often used in this context, ‘She’s got a real attitude!” or “He gave me attitude.”

An attitude is much broader and has more depth than you might realize. In addition, you can choose to build and change your attitudes. Here is a definition: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude is something you can develop if you are motivated. While I cannot site a study, I am convinced that Random Acts of Kindness are powerful catalysts in our environment that cultivate a culture of gratitude.

We need those catalysts. Many of us show gratitude in a place of worship, or in our homes at meals or bedtime, but when it comes to the day-to-day world, we are selective.

It is in the world where our convictions are tested with the strangers we meet every day. I was tested last week. I found my way to shift my attitude to gratitude; however, I did not do it alone.

I was in a minor car accident. The only injury was to my car. Everyone knows the process to deal with all of this is disruptive to an already busy schedule.

I was hit in the back on the passenger side. Luckily, there was a parking lot to pull over into. It did not seem bad, but when I got out, my entire bumper was dangling. There was no way I could drive with it like that.

My first thought: ‘Are you kidding me? Shit! I don’t want to deal with this. It is 8:00 pm after a long day of work.’

Second thought: ‘Where is the guy that did this? Did he pull over or drive away?’

Looking up, I saw the guy did pull over and was checking his truck damage.  As he started to get back into his vehicle, my thought was ‘is he really going to drive away?’ I then said assertively, and a bit incredulously, “Dude!!?”

At that moment, I was interrupted…in front of me was a woman in traffic who had rolled down her window and said, “Are you okay?”

That random act of kindness was a neutralizer. My internal thought shifted to ‘what is important here? The kindness of this woman reminded me to consider if this guy was injured. The idea of being grateful for no injuries hadn’t yet crossed my mind.

The guy walked over to me. He was kind, apologetic, and took responsibility.

After exchanging information, he stayed to help me figure out what to do about my bumper. A woman pumping gas jumped in with an idea; she grabbed the bumper, bent it and stuffed it in my half-open trunk. Yes, it looked as ridiculous as it sounds. A woman observing was compelled to point out the flaws in this plan.

Next thing I knew another man was working on it… he cut the bumper off the rest of the way and checked all the other damage, and then we stuffed it in my back seat! Equally as ridiculous, but I could drive home.

All those random acts of kindness around this one event. I felt so grateful that it spilled over into how I approached the process going forward, which I initially dreaded.

My attitude showed in my behavior when I reached out to file my claim. I found myself enjoying the interactions: the Erie claims agent, my local agent, the enterprise representative, the adjuster, the guy who came to tow my car, the auto body shop. I was grateful for each of them as they helped me, and I made a point to share my appreciation along the way.

It all went smoothly. I am sure Erie’s great customer service helped; however, I know those strangers who showed me kindness activated my attitude of gratitude and created a chain reaction.

We cannot control a lot of what happens to us, but we can choose our response.

If you want to develop an Attitude of Gratitude, begin with these questions:

  • How do you feel about being grateful? Do you think it is a good thing to do or not? The first step is to feel positive about gratitude.
  • Do you stop and make space to say thank you? Do you look for silver linings?
  • Have you been able to experience gratitude in the world around you? Either on your own or from observing others?

Gratitude is part of a happy life. There are plenty of books, programs, videos, and research out there to teach you how.

You bring the motivation and practice.

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