It’s no secret that we take many things for granted, from the luxury of being able to lounge on my couch in my air-conditioned apartment as I type on my laptop, to things as seemingly trivial as the ability to walk. We let moments pass us by without taking a second to think about how fortunate we are to be where we are and doing what we are doing.
Sometimes a little slap in the face of perspective is all it takes to awaken our hibernating gratitude.
Are you having one of those days where your parents are driving you to insanity? Consider the feelings of those people who would give anything for the opportunity to speak to their parents one more time. Or maybe you just wish you could get away from your kids for a weekend? Your neighbor with terminal cancer is cherishing every single minute she has with her kids and you should too.
Complaining is something I personally struggle with, even if it’s just griping about post-workout soreness. I’ve been working on breaking this habit by trying to think of people who would envy my situation. That girl from high school that had both legs amputated after a car accident would probably love to have just gone for a run, so I should be thankful for my physical abilities.
The part I struggle with is where to draw the line; if I constantly live my life with an attitude of “somebody’s always got it worse”, I feel like I’m too hard on myself and quite negative. Everybody needs to complain every once in a while, but it’s important to keep the complaints reasonable. Stop complaining about the slow Wifi or the lack of space in your overflowing closet; be grateful for the luxury of internet and your arsenal of clothing.
While it may be (extraordinarily) cliché, you don’t always realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. My advice is to appreciate what you’ve got while you’ve got it. Change is a part of life, and the things you love the most could be taken away in the blink of an eye. When you see somebody that is worse off than you, be appreciative of your own situation, then be there for that person to help them overcome life’s obstacles. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones you love them (especially grandmas; they love phone calls), and don’t forget to let your friends know how much you cherish their friendship. Next time you go for a run, be thankful for your athletic ability, and next time you ace a test, be grateful for the great teachers you’ve had throughout your education.
Have you ever had one of those days that is so perfect you never want it to end? For me, they usually occur when my extended family is all together in one place. I didn’t realize how much I cherished family celebrations until I started missing some while away at college. I had to experience the absence of family gatherings to realize the value of them. The vacations, reunions, and holidays will always eventually come to an end, but the memories and the stories are timeless. Be thankful in the moment, and be appreciative to have had the opportunity to live that perfect day.
Sometimes we have to witness or personally experience the bad in order to appreciate the good.
Now, you don’t have to hop on a plane to a secluded, poverty-stricken village in Africa or anything, but just take time out of your day to appreciate what you have. I’m not referring to material items alone; be thankful for your abilities, talents, health, and intelligence along with the roof over your head, clean drinking water, and the little luxuries to which we are oblivious each day.
When you see a beautiful sunset, be thankful for your ability to see.
When you wake up in the middle of the night to a crying baby, be grateful for their health.
When you’re tired of working long hours, be happy you have a job.
It’s all about perspective and appreciation.