The Things We Take For Granted
About 4 minutes to read
“I could just kill myself” she said, “Come November I simply want to end it all and could throw myself out the window!” I laughed at her thinking she was joking but something in her demeanour told me she was serious and this was a painful topic for her. I shut my mouth, decided to listen, but the truth is I did not really understand her pain as what she was speaking of, I take for granted, and therefore I was amused and very non-empathetic.
Sometimes we should really be careful because our own ignorance comes back to bite us in the arse, as is the case with me. This conversation occurred many years ago when I lived in South Africa. The person I was speaking to later became a friend who was visiting my home country on business. She was talking about something as mundane as the weather in Germany and I laughed at her and thought, “What’s the matter with this woman, why would someone want to react this way because of a little bad weather?”
“Never take anyone’s feelings for granted because you never know how much courage they took to show their feelings to you and trusted you completely”
It wasn’t until I came here for training and then later to live, that I fully understood how the weather in Germany becomes so overwhelmingly bad and depressing for the mood that one could hurl oneself out the window. Sounds dramatic right? A little “over the top.” Actually no it’s not, I can now attest to the truth of this sentiment.
What I’ve come to realise is that I was taking my life in South Africa for granted. Winter in Johannesburg, the weather is cold, drops to around zero degrees but the sky is always blue, and there is sunshine. Having a blue sky makes such a difference to your mood and I totally took that for granted, until I moved here and then experienced this dismal, constant grey weather for myself.
“Never take for granted the people who show you love and kindness”
Over the years, I’ve thought many times of that conversation, my reaction, and my subsequent experiential understanding. In fact, today I am thinking about all the things that we take for granted in our lives, those things that we never think about; our creature comforts that are simply a part of our every day existence.
What does it mean to take things for granted? Well it is when we fail to appreciate the value of something, be it a person, object, activity or emotion. When we do not understand the full value of these things, you treat it as ordinary, nothing special and expect them always to be available for us to do with as we please.
“The things you take for granted someone else is praying for”
The list is endless of all the things we take for granted. To name a few: our bodies, relationships, children, parents, our jobs, health, mental well being, running water, flushing toilets, traffic lights… These things are all a part of our daily existence and we often don’t give them a second thought, simple things we take for granted. I am not saying that this is wrong, because it is part of our human experience, one in which we sometimes live unconsciously, sad but true.
How can we become aware of the things we take for granted? What can we do about this behaviour? How is it possible for us to become more aware and perhaps more appreciative and grateful for the good things that are happening in our lives which appear to be mundane?
“Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had”
When you become aware of the things, you take for granted I want to encourage you to do the following:
- Sit with it for a moment. Don’t brush it off and move onto the next thing, rushing on with your life.
- Look at that thing closely and consider what value it has in your life, or what value it adds to your life. Perhaps rate its value on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Spend some time appreciating it. Now appreciation is different to gratitude. When we appreciate something, we look at its significance and value and admire it greatly. In fact, after a suitable period of appreciation the thing you are sitting with might even raise in value.
- Give thanks and practice gratitude. Allow yourself to connect emotionally with that thing which you have taken for granted and show appropriate gratitude for it. It may not be an outward demonstration but at least connect your appreciation and gratitude together.
Now it’s possible that you follow this little exercise, 30 minutes later forget all about its value, your appreciation, and to show gratitude… Well that’s ok you are human after all. However, the next time you become aware of the things you take for granted follow these tips again. Also train yourself to be aware and conscious of the small things in your life that bring so much meaning and blessings and align your spirit with gratitude, this will help you live more consciously each day.