Choosing To Be Grateful In Spite Of Life’s Frustrations

By John Trombley
The Village Business Institute

Would I be grateful if:

  • The person who cut me off in traffic during my morning commute to work actually realized they made a mistake.
  • The person who used all the toilet paper replaced the roll.
  • My neighbor trained their dog NOT to bark at 2 o’clock in the morning.
  • An unidentified coworker didn’t steal my lunch out of the breakroom refrigerator.
  • Timid drivers stayed off the road when the rest of the world (me) is trying to make their way home at the end of the day to pick up the kids and deliver them to their activities – on time for once!

Chances are you could answer a resounding “Yes!” to all of those statements even if they don’t all apply to you. Most of us can imagine the frustration a person might feel in those situations and by identifying with them, experience the same feelings.

So I got to thinking: It’s easy to be grateful when someone does something to help us or to make our lives more pleasant. Think how grateful we’d feel if we had one of those big EASY buttons that we could press whenever we wanted to!

Hmm. There was an Adam Sandler movie, “Click,” directed by Frank Coraci, in which Sandler plays a workaholic who uses a universal remote to skip over all the “bad” stuff in his life. Someplace along the way he discovers that he missed life itself. Having it easy or go our way all the time may not be so good for us after all, it seems.

What if we decided to be grateful “IN SPITE OF ________” not just “BECAUSE OF  ________” (you fill in the blank)?

Let’s quickly re-visit those scenarios above and ask:

  • Am I grateful that I had the opportunity or ability to even GO to work this morning?
  • Am I grateful for hot and cold running water with the turn of the tap, complete with safe drinking water and waste management?
  • Am I grateful for being able to HEAR that dog bark?
  • Am I grateful that I have food for sustenance while others clearly may not?
  • Am I grateful for my children and the choices they have available to them to challenge their potential?

“Life is too short to be little” is a phrase I heard years ago. It’s getting shorter every day, and not just for me. The question isn’t how much time do I have left, but rather, how will I choose to live the time I have left? Will I choose to be envious, cantankerous, grumpy, selfish and short-sighted? Or will I embrace each moment as it comes, savoring it for what it is: an opportunity to do or to be?

The choice is mine for my life, just as it is for yours. No one else’s. So I think I’m going to choose to be grateful “in spite of,” not just “because of,” just because I can.


John Trombley
John Trombley, The Village Business Institute

John is the Village Business Institute’s Consulting & Training Manager and also serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 18 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.

Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.

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