Gratitude In the Coffee Shop

When I think of gratitude, Coffee Shops don’t come to my mind – I was never one to go to a coffee shop and just hang out. My brother, on the other hand, just about works out of coffee shops across the country! Through the years, I have become picky about the coffee I drink (due mostly because my parents were coffee snobs (affectionately stated)) who would grind their own imported beans purchased at Zabar’s. But, I digress.

Tonight, however, I grabbed my book, Infinite Love & Gratitude, and went out to get some coffee and do some reading.

Although it was not particularly crowded, I found myself seated near a gentleman with some sort of workbook open as he was studying for an exam. As I sat down, I nodded, smiled, and gave the typical American acknowledgment without being too engaging.

gratitude-CPCUAfter a short while, maybe 5 minutes or so, the gentleman closed his workbook and released a heavy sigh. It was at this point I glanced and saw the title of his review materials was for the CPCU 551 Risk Management exam. This is an insurance exam on par with a CPA exam. I smiled over at him and asked the obvious question, “Preparing to take CPCU 551?”

You see, I have earned the CPCU designation (Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter) along with several other designations. I knew exactly what he was going through. I did not get the feeling he was an underwriter and when I asked what field he was in he replied that he was am IT guy. Another quality just like me!

From that point, we had a delightful conversation about insurance, systems, metrics, and actuarial sciences. It was a nice mind stimulating conversation that was very enjoyable.

When I first sat down, my thoughts were strictly selfish. I don’t want to be bothered. I don’t want to interact with anyone. I want to be by myself. However, by showing some compassion towards someone else who was going through a trying time (and if you ever sat for one of these exams, you would agree it is trying) I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

Next time you think you just want to get away from it all, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and just turn inwards, try starting a conversation with a stranger at the coffee shop. You never know where it will go!

Be Well.
The Gratitude Guru


  1. Melissa on June 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    PAUL, what a wonderful story. How ironic you would be seated near a stranger (you thought) and as it turned out, not a stranger at all, in fact, a person with a background very similar to yours. Maybe, that was the energy that drew you to that table to begin with. We never really know do we…thanks for sharing. I now have some things to ponder when I go to bed this evening…which is right now.

  2. Paul on June 23, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Melissa – Exactly! So many times we get caught up in our own ‘stuff’ that we retreat inwards and avoid other people. At the end of the period (i.e., a coffee break) we are no better off then when we started.

    By reaching out and engaging in a conversation with someone unknown, you have no idea where you will end up! The possibilities are endless!

  3. Neeta on June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Hello Paul! Am truly a believer in Gratitude for the smallest of things happening in my life! & your daily newsletters do affirm that its only Gratitude, that truly “Gives in Abundance”, whatever we aspire for in life!

    Your above story is so very true. I am a daily commuter by the local Mumbai [India] trains to my work place, & like u said, like to be left alone. But sometimes I do come across really such lovely persons as fellow commuters, who have touched my life & even become friends.

    One such lady, I got into a conversation with, turned out to be a neighbour of one of my work colleagues. On getting to know where she lived, I came to know that she lived exactly in the same building where my colleague stayed. I had lost touch with her, since she was transferred to another office in Mumbai. This train friend said, she knew this particular person & told me the sad story of she having been diagnosed with cancer. I really felt a very unhappy feeling going through me, but immediately, prayed for her, there & then, & Lo! I suddenly felt much better myself!

    I sincerely hope, she must be better now. Also in my daily prayers, I try to include everyone, known-unknown, who is suffering in life, as I just cannot pray only for myself & only for my family. I feel so good after a heartfelt prayer to God, that it paves the way for my having a good day ahead, everyday!

    God make this world a better place for all to live in & be in YOUR orbit always!

  4. Macy on June 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I was cleaning out my inbox just a few minutes ago – trying to get my mind ready for some work – when I saw an email from you about this posting. I clicked on it and boy did it hit me hard. Thank you. All day today I have gotten annoyed at people for not leaving me alone. (I too was in a coffee shop and changed my seat to be less affected by those around me.) After I read this I realized that these were all gifts that I turned away. I feel terrible that I snapped at people for wanting to check in with me or call me with news. All I could think was – why aren’t they giving me space? Don’t they know I want to be left alone? Lately, I am having trouble recognizing gifts for what they are. This posting reminded me that if I am open to it – there will be gifts everywhere – if I am not open to it – they will come as annoyances. Thank you for the much needed lesson.

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