“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Sometimes Angel and I get so caught up pursuing the next big thing, that we forget to pause and appreciate the things we have, and the things we’ve experienced, learned and achieved along the way.
In other words, we forget to give thanks continuously, for all things. Since every step we have taken has led us right to where we are, and all things have contributed to our development, when we finally do pause to give thanks, we try to include ALL things in our gratitude.
So that’s what I want to reflect on today – a few quick reminders about some things you, too, likely forget to be grateful for…
1. The unique privilege of being YOU.
YOU are one of a kind. You are lucky enough to have something that makes you different from everyone else. Embrace your individuality. Self-worth comes from one thing: thinking that you are worthy. So appreciate what it feels like underneath your own skin. You are amazing just the way you are.
Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be someone or something we aren’t. Every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are, and aren’t, that you will truly find the happiness and fulfillment you seek.
2. Every single experience that led you to today.
Life isn’t about a single moment of great triumph and attainment. It’s about the trials and errors that get you there – the blood, sweat, and tears – the small, inconsequential things you do every day. It all matters in the end – every step, every regret, every decision, and every affliction.
The seemingly useless happenings add up to something. The minimum wage job you had in high school. The evenings you spent socializing with coworkers you never see anymore. The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads. Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be. All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are.
All of this has strengthened you. All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had. All of this has made you who you are today. (I’ve written about this extensively in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. What your daily struggles are teaching you.
Challenges are what make life interesting; working to overcome them is what gives life meaning.
Failure and struggles keep you humble, success and achievement keep you glowing, but only faith and determination keeps you going. So stay focused, and celebrate your efforts too, not just your outcomes.
Remember that the opposite of failing is not succeeding; the opposite of failing is trying. Your daily efforts are what make it all possible. Appreciate what they teach you, even when they don’t lead you to an ideal outcome.
4. The gift of now.
In between all your goals, priorities, obligations, and everything else that might appear on one of your upcoming to-do lists, there are moments called “life” that still have to be lived and enjoyed.
The trick is to make the very best of now, and value it for what it’s worth. In other words, don’t wish all your time away by waiting for better times ahead. Smile, right now, because you can. (Read The Power of Now.)
5. The way every moment is a new beginning.
If you feel stressed and stuck, let go, take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that this moment is a new beginning. Stop thinking about what might have been and starting looking at what can be. Right now is a perfect time to start over. This moment is a brand new opportunity to rebuild what you truly want.
There are three little words that can release you from your past struggles and regrets and guide you forward to a positive new beginning. These words are: “From now on…”
6. The familiar faces, places and situations you rely on daily.
As Cynthia Ozick once said, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
Have you ever noticed that the more familiar you become with an amazing person, a beautiful place, or an ideal situation in your life, the more you seem to take it for granted? It’s like you somehow believe life is supposed to be this way – like it won’t ever change. And most of the time, all the maintenance these wonderful things need is a little time, attention, and deliberate appreciation.
So how often do you pause to appreciate your life and everyone and everything in it? How often do you stop dead in your tracks and think, “Wow, thank you”?
7. A reasonably healthy body.
In other words, if you got sick today you could recover.
Never underestimate the gift of your health. It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own. It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer. Your body is the only place you will truly ever live.
Respect your body. Eat well. Sleep well. Breathe deeply. Move harmoniously. Daily. (Read Eat Right 4 Your Type.)
8. The fact that you are online reading this.
Not only are you wealthy enough to be online right now, but you can read too.
Believe it or not, only about one third of the world’s population has internet access. And, even crazier than that, there are roughly 774 million people in the world who aren’t educated enough to read.
YOU are one of the lucky ones.
We all have a whole lot to be grateful for. So at the end of the day before you close your eyes, smile and be happy with where you’ve been and grateful for what you have experienced and overcome.
Life is rarely perfect, but it’s always pretty darn good.
What would you add to the list?
What do you sometimes forget to be grateful for?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.
Photo by: Tony Fischer