When you’re sick or in pain, it makes you stop and realize how many things in your life that you actually take for granted. Most days, I take a few moments to reflect on how grateful I am for my life and more importantly, the people in it. But I know I can do better. I still get aggravated over things that don’t matter. I get really frustrated when I get lost while driving (even though I have a GPS) and get upset when my shiny black granite kitchen floor is dirty—which is every day because it shows every crumb and dog slobber puddle. I sometimes clean that stupid (yet beautiful) floor 3 times a day. What an incredible waste of mental and physical energy.
How do we program ourselves to let go of the things that don’t matter and embrace and appreciate the things that do?
Anyone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness will tell you how often we take our health for granted. When you feel good, how often do you stop and notice that? On the flip side, when you have a bad cold or are doubled over in bed, all you can think about is how BAD you feel.
Like everything else in life, you have to make a serious effort if you want to change a behavior. Then you have to work extra hard to maintain it. So let’s make a plan to remind ourselves how lucky we are every single day. There are a few ways we can do this:
- Write down your Core List of 5 things you never want to take for granted. Whether it’s having food on your table every night, the health of your family, or the fact that you live in a country where women are treated as equals, it doesn’t matter. It’s your list. Be sure to read it every day.
- Schedule a daily gratitude reminder in your calendar. Take 2-5 minutes to think about what you’re grateful for and end it with your Core List of 5. Every day will bring something or someone new to your list. It’s invigorating and wonderful to recognize new and old reasons to be grateful.
- The next time you get angry at your significant other because he (or she) messed up the house, think about what your life would be like if he was no longer there. Do you fail to see the good things that person does while spending more energy focusing on the bad? If so, you may be taking this person for granted.
Probably most of the people you know do not have to worry about basic food and shelter. You may take for granted that you live in a house or apartment with heat and running water. You may not think twice about whether or not you will have food in your refrigerator to feed your family. But having adequate food and shelter is not as common as you might think. As you sit down for dinner tonight, think about these statistics:
- Over half of the population in the world survives on $2.50 per day.
- According to UNICEF, over 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. These deaths don’t make the newspapers—these children are dying in small, poor villages all over the world.
- Approximately 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation.
Perspective changes everything. We are fortunate and lucky—every day. Let’s keep reminding ourselves. It’s not that hard to do.