A Story of 100 Thank Yous

Soooo….this past weekend, I got some kind of bad news. It wasn’t awful, but it was enough of a bummer that I spent the next day and a half trying to cheer myself up. I wasn’t successful… at first… but I tell you more about that after I’ll tell you about my bad news. You know… for fun.

First, you need some back-story (of course). In October, I was cruising down my street on the way to meet a friend. I was off of work, and so I was feeling pretty jazzed about the pending weekend. Now it is important for me to tell you that this street, where I live, is very narrow and is always packed with parked cars (many of which have the side-view mirrors pro-actively folded in – it’s that kind of narrow). So there I was, minding my own business, driving down this narrow little street, full of energy and happiness… if you’ve ever seen the movie Enchanted, and you know the character Gisele played by Amy Adams, you have a good idea of my head space that afternoon. I think I might have even been singing “That’s How You Know.” Not really. Okay, maybe.

And then… “BAM!” – a loud thud on the side of my car. First thought was that I had hit a mirror of a parked car, and I stopped and jumped out of my car to try to figure out what had just happened. And there, standing outside of her brand new Prius, was a young woman looking at a damaged car door. Not awesome. And bye-bye Gisele.

When I spoke with my insurance company, the rep assured me that based on California laws (statutes, whatever) the other driver was at fault because the onus is on the parked driver to make sure it is safe to open the door before doing so. Upon hearing that, I felt relieved — probably mostly because it’s not fun being wrong. However, over the next few months, and some back-and-forth between the two insurance companies, and it became clear that this wasn’t going to be an open-and-shut case. And then it was sent to arbitration. Now you are up-to-date.

This past Friday, my insurance rep called me with a sort of “off” sound in her voice – you probably know it… the kind of tone that is designed to prepare the listener for impending bad news. As I listened to her, I started to predict that it meant the arbitrator hadn’t decided fully in my favor — that the fault was going to be split… maybe 10% my fault, 90% the other driver’s fault or 40/60 or 60/40 – you get the idea. And then I heard her say the arbitrator had decided 100% in favor of the other driver. What?!

Now in no way is this the end of the world, but I am not going to lie… it didn’t feel great hearing that, and I was somewhat shocked. I just didn’t get it. Wasn’t the law on my side? Couldn’t they see the way the damage was on both of our cars that this was clearly a case of the other driver opening her car door into me as I was passing? Doesn’t the arbitrator know that I recycle and donate to charity and have a rescue dog? You may or may not be surprised to learn that the answer to all of those questions is “no.” It was a decision that I was going to have to accept. Sigh.

And it was bumming me out. For so many reasons. First, there were the self-absorbed anxiety thoughts: “Why did this happen to me? Is it karmic retribution for some unkind thing I did in past?” Next, there were the snowball-effect thoughts: “If this kind of unfair thing can happen, then other things can go wrong, too!” And then there were “I really need a hug right now” thoughts. In spite of or because of this chorus of mental noise, I really was trying hard to comfort and reassure myself. “It’s not so bad… at least I can afford the deductible… no one got hurt, it’s over now, etc., etc.,” but it just wasn’t working.

Now, I’ve done a fair amount of personal growth work in my life and have learned a thing or two about the “negative-feelings situation.” One of the things widely accepted in the world of psychology is that our thoughts create our feelings – not the other way around. And often those thoughts are not facts – they are no more real or true than “The Tooth Fairy is a real-live person” or “The sun goes around the moon.” So if a person can really identify and question the thoughts he or she is having when a negative feeling appears, it’s possible to have a real chance of turning that feeling around to something that feels… better – if even just a little. The other thing that is known is that gratitude is almost magical when it comes to shifting feelings.

So, because I really, really, really wanted to get over it and feel better about this whole dumb thing, I decided to combine both of these tricks with my made-up exercise 100 Thank Yous. My list of 100 things I am grateful for was created just as I was writing this blog – 100% off the top of my head. It is about as fresh as gratitude gets.  Here they are, in no particular order:

100 Thank Yous

  1. I have a car
  2. I have a place to park that car
  3. The car is in good condition post-repairs
  4. I have insurance
  5. I can afford insurance
  6. I could afford to pay my deductible
  7. No one was hurt in this accident
  8. The other driver in the accident was very respectful and cooperative
  9. Regardless of the arbitration outcome, I am still considered to be not at fault for this accident
  10. I can feel good that the other driver was also found to be not at fault
  11. My insurance rates will not be affected
  12. The other driver’s insurance rates will not be affected
  13. My driving record is not affected
  14. I will be an even more thoughtful and careful driver – always good
  15. I live in a country where, as a woman, I am able to drive myself around
  16. I live in a country where I can vote
  17. Democracy
  18. The Constitution
  19. I live in a great neighborhood – narrow streets and all!
  20. I have a wonderful apartment
  21. I can have a dog where I live
  22. I have a great dog
  23. I can walk to a lot of great places in my neighborhood so I don’t even have to drive if I don’t want to
  24. A lot of the places I can walk to in my neighborhood are amazing coffee shops
  25. Coffee (it exists)
  26. I have access to amazing coffee beans
  27. Coffee is healthy
  28. I drink coffee
  29. I am healthy
  30. I have health insurance
  31. I have access to a variety of great health insurance options because of the Affordable Care Act
  32. I live in America
  33. America is a place were we hold free elections
  34. I have freedom of speech
  35. I can write and publish a blog on my own
  36. Computers
  37. Internet
  38. Readers from all over the world can (and may) read my blog
  39. I can stay in touch with friends all over the country with a wireless little box
  40. Video calling (for seeing and talking with friends and family even when they are far away)
  41. Instagram (for seeing some of all the cool stuff that is happening in the world)
  42. Facebook (for staying in touch with friends)
  43. Airplane travel (for seeing friends and family in person – even when they live far away)
  44. Paris – because it is so pretty.
  45. Pastries – because they taste delicious – no matter if they are from Paris or not, but especially if they are
  46. Chocolate – because it is delicious and it is good for you!
  47. Candy
  48. Caramel
  49. Movies
  50. The Academy Awards
  51. Watching the Oscars with friends
  52. Spinach and artichoke dip
  53. Wine
  54. Good design
  55. Fashion
  56. Glamorous gowns
  57. Touching acceptance speeches
  58. Funny acceptance speeches
  59. Having my ceiling fans taken down by my awesome neighbor, Jess
  60. Improv classes
  61. New friends
  62. Old friends
  63. Amy
  64. Lance
  65. Scarlett
  66. Walker
  67. Dad
  68. Suzanne
  69. Great neighbors
  70. Warm breezy hikes
  71. Beach days
  72. Bicycle rides
  73. Slumber parties
  74. Coffee safaris
  75. Coloring
  76. Meditating
  77. Air
  78. Sleeping
  79. Water
  80. Street style
  81. Street art
  82. Warm chocolate chip cookies
  83. Home-made fruit pies
  84. Successful skydiving
  85. Kindness of strangers
  86. Buffy buffets
  87. Amazon Prime
  88. Google Express
  89. Cheese
  90. Pizza
  91. A comfortable bed
  92. Washing Machines
  93. Dryers
  94. Night-blooming Jasmine
  95. Longer days
  96. Creativity
  97. Variety
  98. Humor
  99. Love
  100. Gratitude

That was actually fun, and I really do feel better. I cannot recommend this exercise highly enough – whether you are having a good day or a bad day, but especially if you are having a bad day. Try the gift of 100 Thank Yous. Would love to hear if you do it and what your experience with it was. 

 

About The Author

Anne Stericker

City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Steve Heller | 1st Mar 16

    Such a great post, Anne (such a shitbummer insurance outcome, but such a great post from it, right?).
    Not sure I would have wanted to hear that door get *klonked* but I’ll bet it was good drama – whadda they call it?, a “life experience” … yeah, well…

    Having an inherently optimistic self-improver’s bent is lucky for you (put ‘er on the thank you list?) and is also edutaining for the rest of us ALCM fans. Also the “thoughts create feelings” – I read that many many years ago and it hit me in the eyes like a magical tool.

    “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

    Love the stream-of-consciousness nature of the list, too … at the moment, partial to your #60, 61, and 90 😉

    • Anne Stericker | 1st Mar 16

      Thank you so much for the comment, Steve! I appreciate your acknowledgement of the shitbummer outcome. I just really still am so surprised… like maybe there was mix up and they sent me home from the hospital with someone else’s baby. Anyway, I am accepting it, and in the meantime, thank God for #60, #61 and #90. Hollywood Pies here we come.

  2. Larry Spinak | 1st Mar 16

    I think that’s a splendid practice and I commend you for coming up with it. Related to that, my Sweetie has a Gratitude Group – herself and three other women who email each other daily with a list of what they are grateful for. She’s been doing it for years, and I can personally attest to its positive effect insofar as I have not as yet been smothered in my sleep.

    • Anne Stericker | 1st Mar 16

      Larry, I LOVE that idea of a Gratitude Group! Brilliant! Almost everything I read about happiness includes a gratitude practice, so it makes sense that she has seen such good results. Thank you for telling me about that. I am going to see if I can start my own group!

  3. Paige Doster-Grimes | 1st Mar 16

    I really needed to see this today! In the midst of some big life changes that are stressing me out and now I’m really looking forward to doing this exercise tonight. Thank you, Anne!

    • Anne Stericker | 1st Mar 16

      Thank you for commenting, Paige. It sounds like you have some stuff going on, and I am so happy this post might have given you an idea of one way to lighten the load a bit. I think you will love it. And in fact, I encourage you to do it every day, if possible, until some of the big life changes don’t seem so big. 🙂

  4. Candace | 7th Apr 16

    One of my thank yous is for this post, Anne. It is freaky how I happened upon this post at just this time since I went through a similar thing. I didn’t notice it until reading your post that part of my challenge with it was the thought processes going on about “but don’t they know I’m a good person?”, “I do charity work?”… Thanks for the input and the exercise!

    • Anne Stericker | 11th Apr 16

      Candace, thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad I could help someone else with this process. It was a difficult couple of days for me after I got the news, mostly because I personally have been conditioned to think I must have done something to deserve this for it to have happen to me. Truth is, sometimes things don’t go our way and it doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault. It just is what it is, but the grateful mindset really helped me to see all that I HAS gone my way. I felt/feel so lucky after doing that list. Nice to hear from you! xo

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