Lessons in Gratitude from a Stolen Car


One sunny morning in June, my assistant walked into my downstairs home-office and remarked, “Oh! I didn’t think you were here because your car is not in the garage.” “You’re messing with me,” I replied. “C’mon, where is it? You’re messing with me,” she said. “No, you’re messing with me,” I said, as we walked upstairs together and opened the door to a Saab-less garage.

Sure enough, my car had been stolen. After calling the police and playing my version of “Detective,” it was time to reflect on what had just happened. A Sabb story in the making or a profound moment of gratitude?

Having been given the gift of perspective from my travels through third world countries, my reflection quickly turned to gratitude. Gratitude for what, you may ask? Gratitude for just about everything! You see, the quickest way to turn any negative situation or emotion into something positive is to ask the simple question, “what do I have to be grateful for?”

First of all, how lucky am I to have a car to steal in the first place? How many people around the world not only don’t have a car but don’t have many of the luxuries the rest of us take for granted… a comfortable home, plumbing, electricity, clean drinking water… and the list goes on.

It’s hard to believe that close to 1.2 billion people wake up every morning without the convenience of clean water. Can you imagine having to walk a kilometer every morning to access clean drinking water, or hand washing your clothes in dirty water like so many villagers around the world do? It’s easy to become desensitized to the woes of the world as we live our opulent lives in our privileged communities of indulgence.

Treat yourself to a gift of gratitude and experience a positive change in your life.

How about a visit to an orphanage, a children’s camp or hospital, or any number of other children’s charities? Watching kids have the time of their lives with a balloon, or even just a stick and a rock is truly inspiring. If they can access joy with so little, why can’t we be happy with so much?

Next time you turn on your tap, how about a quick moment of gratitude for the privilege of clean water? As you go through your day, do the same as you experience your life of convenience.

Lessons of gratitude are everywhere if we stay focused on being grateful. The formula for a happier life may be much easier than you think! When your car or a dream gets stolen, when you’re stuck in traffic, or whenever you’re feeling a little down, practice gratitude.

Written by:

Scott Friedman

Scott Friedman, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and former President of the National Speakers Association (NSA), is an internationally sought after professional speaker and author. As a motivational humorist, Scott inspires and entertains with engaging, interactive, and content-rich programs. Scott’s main areas of expertise are employee innovation & engagement, customer experience, and creating a happier, more connected workplace and life.

One comment to this article
  • Yes, Scott, it is easy to forget what we take for granted. Thank you for sharing a situation that would have many people angry and bitter how you can turn around nearly everything into a moment of thankfulness.

    And it is wonderful to travel with you to the group homes,orphanages, and villages and be able to bring them some joy and build wells for them. Thanks for making that happen.

    August 12, 2014 at 2:44 am -

Join Our Community and Keep the Celebration Coming!