Over the last month, I asked several people (some of them relative strangers),
“What is something that most people should be incredibly thankful for but usually take for granted?”
The answers I received were fascinating, thought-provoking and taught me more than I ever imagined. Some of them appear obvious at first — until you understand more of the ‘why’ you should be thankful.
I realized there are many things I take for granted daily — and you likely do as well.
Although I had done this just for my own knowledge and learning, the perspectives of some of them I had to share.
Here are the 10 that I took for granted and now give me a renewed thankfulness in many ways.
Memories serve as not only a place of reflection but a place of identity.
If experiences make you the person you are today, then memories of those experiences are the path to understanding and identifying yourself.
Without memories, you have no ability to know who you are and your place in the world.
Memories are your personal identification. If you lose them, it is infinitely harder — at best — to replace them than other forms of ID. Most of the time it’s impossible to get your memories back. Once lost, your personal identification to yourself is gone.
Be thankful for your memories — the good, bad and boring. They identify you to yourself.
They also give you the power to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
This one confused me. I thought carefully about the concept of being thankful for enemies.
I was told that your enemy may not even be a person. It might be an addiction, disease, insecurity, or life changing event.
Your enemies evolve you at the core. They force you to defend and endure more than you thought possible. You learn a lot through the experience of becoming the champion over your enemy, the best lesson is how to identify your enemy sooner to more rapidly avoid the fight.
Your foes also make you more appreciate and thankful for your friends.
“But what if I make the extra effort to be genuinely grateful for my friends?”
“It’s impossible to reach a level of gratefulness for friends and loved ones until you’ve confronted and won against your enemies. It’s a different type of thankfulness. It’s one you will never lose.”
Just like enemies, your friends aren’t just people.
I got it. Right then.
I never thought of this one, but it ties into memories and sensory.
From a few of the people who had lost senses, and individuals who had lost/gained several, smell was the sense they most appreciated.
Smell is one of the strongest triggers to memories.
Be thankful for the smell of a child, puppy, a loved one and all those seemingly insignificant smells that bring back beautiful memories.
Envy and jealousy are destructive. However, be thankful for both.
The good norm is feeling deeply and genuinely happy when someone attains something that makes THEM happy.
Are you feeling envy or jealousy? That feeling is an indication of some void deep inside that needs to be filled, and usually, has nothing to do with what you are envious of and more to do with the person.
Is someone jealous of you or something you have? It’s a reminder of what you might be taking for granted and should be thankful for it at that moment. It’s also a reminder to you that you might want to keep that person at arm’s length.
You can use jealousy for right or wrong.
Be thankful for it and use it for the right reasons.
6. ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
I literally thought,
They are signs that your immune system is working and fighting one of the enemies.
Many people don’t have an immune system that can combat the allergies that annoy you and me. Instead of a stuffy nose and runny eyes, they run the risk of death.
Be thankful that your immune system is well enough to get relief from the allergy pill you just swallowed.
Diversity is a hot topic right now and the person who mentioned it enlightened me with a new perspective.
Most people fight anything different just like they would an enemy or allergy. I’m not just talking about diversity of individuals.
The world has so many different things that happen to include people — cultures, food, plants, flowers, smells and memories.
Be thankful for diversity. Diversity is the path to experience, memories, learning and your own identity.
Imagine the world in which everything was the same. Everything.
It would be heartbreakingly dull.
Be thankful for everything different you see, smell, touch and experience.
This one didn’t seem unique at first until she explained it to me further. You’ll appreciate it and think of heroes in a different way.
I’m not talking about the flashy movie heroes or those that are working in the spotlight of high-profile causes.
I’m talking about the people in this world that are doing something — either out of passion or necessity — that will not only make your life better but will eventually save your life.
At this moment, there is a hero doing something that will forever change and save your life. Think about that. It blew me away.
They sacrifice and fight tirelessly for something you don’t even think about at this moment.
So if you don’t appreciate your hero’s efforts now, then why the hell are they doing it?
They know it will save your life eventually. A single life — that’s all that matters to them. The majority of them go unmentioned, unknown and unpaid and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Be thankful for your heroes — the ones that are doing something now that will save your life in some way. You’ll never know them, but they somehow know you.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s one of the cores of what makes you tick.
Why did you decide to explore the unbeaten path? Why did you try that exotic food that was still moving? Why did you unknowingly find a new problem that needed to be solved?
Without the pull of curiosity, nothing would happen. Nothing. Imagine never feeling that curious buzz in your head, heart and soul.
Without curiosity, you would not build one memory that becomes the identification of yourself.
Be thankful for your curiosity. Be grateful for the annoyingly curious around you.
All of that curiosity build your personal ID and the world you currently love or the one you long for in the future.
The teachers of the world spur curiosity. Teachers are some of the most curious people in this world and build countless memories each day.
We immediately think of teachers as those in a classroom that are fulfilling their passion to others.
Just like friends and foes, teachers come in many more forms than just human.
Anything and anyone that spurs curiosity is a teacher. As with everything in the world, good and bad teachers exist. Your memories of experience teach you the difference.
Be thankful for all the catalyst of curious — teachers.
I think sleep is just such a waste of time. Sleep was as an illness to me that needed a cure — until a chat with a wise and experienced man.
Sleep is the conduit to dreams.
Whether they awaken you from laughing or screaming in terror, dreams are a mashed combination of so many of the other things that you should be thankful for — memory, curiosity, enemies, heroes, jealousy, teachers and smell.
Dreams are reminders, experiences, and reinforcements for so many of the other things for which to give thanks.
Nightmares either remind you to be thankful for what is not your reality or to continue relentlessly down the path out of the nightmare you currently experience.
Hopefully, some of these give you more to be thankful for on this day of thanks. I am profoundly grateful for the different perspectives and am working to move these from ‘taking granted’ to ‘giving thanks’ in my daily life.
If you know someone that never seems thankful of anything or feels there is nothing in the moment to be thankful for, share some of these to hopefully give a renewed level of ‘to give thanks.
Because this started as an exercise of learning for myself, I would love to know if you have any other things we should all be thankful for but often take for granted.
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