When I realised that I wasn’t going to get anywhere fast on the route I had so deliberately chosen for its speed and ease of driving, I was faced with a choice. Just like with every circumstance that greets me, I can choose to accept it or resent it.

Bumper-to-bumper cars on the Pacific Motorway, outside Coffs Harbour, NSW, January 2015
As we drive along, we're forced to a complete stop along with all the traffic heading south on the Pacific Motorway.

Sometimes I can learn lessons along the way. Now I know to avoid the Pacific Highway around holiday times. But despite seeing the lesson, I have an immediate opportunity to not let the slow line of traffic bother me.

It’s particularly challenging when I have appointments I want to keep and places I want to be, but the trick to being inwardly peaceful is to not only accept life but to embrace it with gratitude. I have been learning this for years, and clearly I still need more practice.

Last year, I observed an amazing woman present 365 days of gratitude via Facebook. On the last day of 2014, she shared, “I can absolutely say that this practice has re-wired my physiology from being a cup half-empty to a cup half-full person. I now see beauty all around me rather than focusing on the negative. And I am sure that I am a much happier person for others to be around as I draw more positive experience and abundance into my life.”

In the past, my own practice of deliberate gratitude has reinforced a healthier perspective in heartbreaking times. It influences all that I am, all that I do and how I interact with the people around me — especially my children.

Sometime in the last two years, however — while I retained the peaceful acceptance of what came to me — I forgot to apply the gratitude. I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped smiling so much, have wanted more from life and others, and haven’t relaxed into my own being.

So my own personal theme for this year is one of consistent gratitude. Even for something as mundane as a line of traffic.

Today we slowed down, stopped more often and waited until most of traffic had passed. At Nambucca Heads, I ran into Victor who we had last seen performing with an Indigenous music and dance troupe at Sydney’s Circular Quay three years ago. What are the chances of that happening?

Three girls playing in the shade of a line of trees on a hot summer's day, Macksville, NSW, January 2015
The girls take advantage of a the wide-open grassy spaces at the park to play a favourite chase-and-tackle game they like to call "Frozen Witch".

And as I watch the girls play happily outside, I’m grateful for this beautiful country where it’s really easy to drive a bus the size of ours, where it’s easy to find places to park and public spaces in which to play. I’m even thankful for the traffic that slows me down and prompts me to rethink my priorities. How about you?