How I experienced the power of gratitude on one of the most stressful days you can imagine

I wrote this post on 17 January 2017, but it’s worth re-sharing here one year later:

“Allow me to set the scene. Last week I travelled for work. I knew it was going to be a test when I arrived at the airport and had forgotten my passport. Luckily, since I was traveling between Germany and Ireland I was able to proceed with my German ID card.

Monday, I flew to Hamburg in the morning and got the train to Berlin after a client meeting in the evening.

Tuesday, I had 2 client meetings and a client dinner.

Wednesday morning, I flew from Berlin to Frankfurt for another client meeting and then to Salzburg in the evening.

Thursday, I had a full day client meeting and client dinner.

So, we get to Friday.

By this time, I had travelled more in one week than some people do in 6 months. I was tired, fed up and wanted nothing more than to go home.

We were supposed to fly from Salzburg, Austria, to Frankfurt at 7am to catch a flight from Frankfurt to Dublin at 10:50am.

When we got to the airport at 6:30am the flight was already announced to be delayed till 7:30am. Of course, 7:30 came and went and all of a sudden the flight showed as cancelled. As it turned out it was due to bad weather in Frankfurt. Shortly thereafter I also got a text telling me my flight from Frankfurt to Dublin was cancelled. After a little bit of shock and panic we checked our options and found there was a flight from Munich to Dublin at 10:55am. Munich was about a 2h drive away.

Off we went to the car rentals. 5 different companies, the first 4 I asked told me they had no cars available. Number 5 was our lucky number, and we didn’t care about the cost, which was pretty dear. At about 8am, we hit the road.

My German colleague was driving, our other colleague in the passenger seat and I was in the back, trying to reach the airline by phone, only to find they didn’t have an open line for another hour. We drove and since we had a tight timeline the driver stepped on the gas a bit. Since she was a bit faster than you should be while passing the boarder, she missed the nice police officer waving at her to swerve out for a checkup. A few minutes later blue lights and a siren made us realize the error of our ways as the police car pulled in front of us and flashed “Follow”. The police officer was nice enough, asked for our ID and went back to his car to check them. It took him about 15 minutes to get back, apologizing for the delay and wishing us good luck on our journey.

We continue on and make fairly good time, including a stop to refuel where I was in charge of just that while the driver ran to the bathroom to save time. While driving I also manage to reach the airline and have my colleague and myself put on the plane from Munich to Dublin. When we finally got to the airport at 10 to 10 we were feeling relieved. But it took them another 10 minutes to take the car off our hands. So my colleague and I rock up to the check-in counter at 10:08. The airline person was about to walk away and close up shop when she spied us. Clearly not impressed, she berated us for being late, saying the counter closed at 10:10 and despite hearing our story continued to let us know that was no reason to show up so late. We finally get our tickets and proceed to security where I both beep, despite having ZERO metal on me, and get chosen for a random explosives check.

Remember when I told you I had forgotten my passport that week? It meant I couldn’t use the electronic passport control but had to walk the extra 70m to the manned passport booths. At this time, they call boarding for our flight. When we get there and I take out my ID I realize my ticket is missing. I check all pockets and can’t find it so I run all the way back to security, but don’t find it there, either. I’m told I’ll get a new one at the gate and so run back to passport control where my colleague was waiting for me, looking at her phone. Next to her on the ground is my ticket.

Having walked all the way to the right to get to passport control we now have to walk another 10 minutes the other way to get to the gate. Finally, we get on the bus that will take us to the plane. We’re not the last people on the bus. We’re not even the last people on the plane. There’s a few more things like some late comers and some technical difficulties but finally we take off and fly to Dublin. I felt so so lucky at that stage.

Back in Dublin I go into the office to attend a few meetings and pick up my new shoes which got delivered during the week. At the end of the day, just before I head out, one of my colleagues ask me if I would officiate his wedding at a beautiful lake in Switzerland this summer. I feel so humbled and happy and say yes.

Finally, it’s time to go home. So I order a taxi and get the rudest driver. But as I get in the car and he tries to make me feel back I decide I won’t let him. Instead, I recall the gratitude I’m feeling for being in Dublin, against all odds, and having been shown a great amount of trust by my colleague. I start texting some friends about it and it takes over my thoughts and I forget about the rude driver.

That night, after having been awake since 4am Dublin time, I head into town for a Toastmasters meeting. I’ve done that before, going to meetings after a long week of traveling for work, and I always had to go home straight after because I was just completely drained of all energy and I’d usually get a cold the next day. Not so this time. I am full of energy and stay out with my friends until half past 11.

Knowing the only difference between previous trips and this one was the way I chose to think about what happened to me that day, I can honestly say that being grateful has enabled me to live life to the fullest last Friday and given me energy beyond belief. If you’re not convinced yet, just try it for yourself the next time you’re having a bad day. Look for the blessing in disguise or just find something small to be grateful for despite your bad fortune. It may change your life for the better.”

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