I totaled my car recently. Even worse, I only had the minimum insurance coverage on it, so all I got for it was what a salvage yard was willing to pay me. I won’t be able to get a replacement for at least a month.
That said, I refuse to let myself descend into self-pity. Author James Altucher talks about difficult gratitude, which is about finding legitimate reasons to be grateful in difficult circumstances. An example he gives is that if you’re stuck in traffic, you can be grateful that you live in a place with opportunity where lots of other people want to live. It’s exactly those times when it’s hardest to be grateful that are the most important times to practice gratitude. I’m writing this post in that spirit.
Without further ado, here are 10 reasons I’m grateful after totaling my car.
1. No one was injured in the accident
Totaling my car has been an inconvenience, even a financial hardship. But money and things can eventually be replaced. A person’s health, or even the person themselves, can’t.
2. Public transportation
As public transportation systems go, it’s not great. I’ve even been critical of it in the past. But it’s there. Even better, as a university student, I can ride the city buses here for free.
3. See what’s within walking distance
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had to expand my definition of walking distance, but it turns out there’s a lot of stuff within a 1-mile radius of my apartment. There’s a convenience store, a drug store, and even a few restaurants.
4. Get more exercise
With all this enforced walking, I’ve obviously been more active since the accident. I’ve been wearing a device on my wrist to keep track of my activity, and prior to the accident, I’d been struggling to meet my daily targets. Now? Not a problem!
5. Help the environment
One fewer car on the road means less pollution in the air. I’m also not contributing to traffic, which makes for one fewer obstruction for the cars that are on the road.
6. Support from friends and family
Sometimes you need to get things that are awkward to haul on a city bus, like cat litter. Sometimes you need to go to places that aren’t near a bus stop. Fortunately, my friends have been super helpful for me in these times. My dad is going to come pick me up so I can spend the holidays with him and my stepmom. I’m incredibly grateful for the help I’m getting from friends and family right now.
7. More interaction
It’s possible to construct your life on a sort of autopilot without much human interaction if you have a car. Since I’ve been on foot, I’ve had to interact with people a lot more. Since I’m not an outgoing person by nature, it’s good to be dragged out of my shell more often.
8. See things differently
When your circumstances change, often your perspective changes, too. I’d been in a bit of a malaise with shooting lately, feeling like there was nothing interesting around me. Seeing more of the area around me on foot has shown me how ridiculous that feeling was. I took the photo at the top of this post near a bus stop. Obviously I wouldn’t have seen that from my car.
9. Text away
My town has banned texting while driving, as have many other towns. But if I’m not driving, I can text, check social media, and use other apps to my heart’s content.
10. Better focus at work
A side effect of the previous item is that I get a lot of my frivolous Internet use out of my system on the way to work. By the time I get to my desk, I’m ready to do actual work.
Just because circumstances are rough doesn’t mean you can’t find things to be grateful for. I’d even argue that if you can find ways to be grateful during hard times, easier times will be that much sweeter.
I’m not talking about false optimism. All the things I’ve mentioned in this article are real benefits I’ve gotten from my current circumstances. They don’t always feel great in the moment, but I can at least see the good side. It’s something that takes practice, but it does get easier. There’s no guarantee against bad circumstances in life, but practicing gratitude can help you cope with whatever life throws at you.