A few weeks ago, we talked about learning to appreciate the smaller moments that make life wonderful. Before we can really revel in those moments, it helps to take a look at the things we take for granted. We never realize how much we truly have until it’s gone. Here are just some things we take for granted, and why we’re so lucky to have them.
7 Things That You Should Never, Ever Take for Granted
We humans are a very “wantful” species. We want more. More money, more time, more energy, more friends, even more shoes. Just more. We take for granted all the things that we do have, never really learning to appreciate just how privileged we are on so many levels. Like I said above, though, we can change. We can take a good hard look at our lives and learn to appreciate what we have, starting with these 7 things that you should never take for granted.
1. A conversation with our parents
Of all the things we take for granted, the simple ability to connect with our loved ones definitely tops the list. Even if we’re feeling blue because you can only connect through a phone call or text, we’re very fortunate that they’re on the other end to receive it. Many would give anything for the chance to hear their mother’s voice or see a “dad joke” pop up in their inbox. We should never take even the smallest chance to connect with our parents for granted because they won’t be with us forever.
2. The ability to just get up and go
I saw this wonderfully meaningful meme the other day where a guy in a red car wishes for a sportier car. Then a guy in an old car wishes for a new one, followed by a guy on a bike wishing he could afford a car. Next, a man waiting for the bus wishes for a bike. It ends with a man in a wheelchair wishing for legs. The point is to remind us that we all have something another wants, and to be grateful for what we do have.
However, the man at the end gives us all another reminder of something that we take for granted- the ability to just get up and go. Whether we drive, take the bus, grab an Uber, hop on a bike, or just use our legs, we have options. The fact that we can leave our homes at all is something we should never take for granted, especially when you consider that between 20-40 million people currently live in slavery because of human trafficking.
3. The sound of our children’s voices (yep, even when they’re really loud)
Let’s be honest, we all wish our kids came with volume control at times. Preferably one with a mute button! Hey, it doesn’t make us bad parents, wishing sometimes they’d just be quiet for five minutes so we can finish a conference call or hear what the news is saying. Just remember, it’s a privilege to hear those voices, even when they’re being obnoxiously loud.
Just like many sons and daughters would give anything for a single moment with their parents, too many moms and dads would move the planets just to hear their child’s laughter one last time. On the other side the spectrum, millions of couples dealing with infertility would gladly deal with interrupted Zoom meetings if it meant fulfilling their dreams of becoming parents. So, never take your children for granted, even when they’re driving you totally bonkers.
4. Clean water for cooking, drinking, and showering
Water is one of the few things that we actually need for our survival, and one of the simplest things that we take for granted. When we need some for cooking, we turn on our tap and there it is. Need to get clean after a long day’s work? Hop in the shower and turn the knob to hot. Thirsty? Pop a cup under your water dispenser, hit a button, and voila- clean water.
Did you know, though, that over 780 million people worldwide don’t have that luxury? Even right here in the US, 63 million Americans don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. Do the math. In a country with about 333 million people, that’s an incredible 18% who go without clean water. As the Water Project explains, “Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease.” Consider that the next time you fill up a pot to boil pasta, suds up in the shower, or gulp down a cold glass of H20, and I bet you’ll stop taking it for granted.
5. The means to make healthy food choices
Healthy eating is incredibly important to me and my family. I avoid processed foods and choose organic produce whenever possible. However, I know that it’s a privilege, being able to make those choices for my family. I know that I should never take it for granted because over 820 million people worldwide go to bed hungry every night. That’s nearly 1 billion people who would love to have anything to fill their bellies, organic or not.
If you think hunger is just a problem in “underdeveloped” nations, think again. An incredible 41 million people (about 11% of US households) suffer from food insecurity every year. Sadly, after current events and an unprecedented number of lost jobs, that number will likely rise for 2020. For those thinking, “So what, they get food stamps, they should be fine,” consider this- the average person gets $5 a day in food stamps. A day. Not a meal. A day. So never take that healthy meal for granted.
6. A boring night at home
Ever have one of those nights where you just can’t settle into anything and feel like you’ll go mad from boredom? None of the movies on your dozen streaming services appeal to you. Not a single one of the thousand books on your Kindle scream out, “read me!” The entire house is clean from top to bottom, kids are in bed, and there’s just nothing to do. Hey, we’ve all had those nights. They stink, right?
The next time you’re feeling bored out of your gourd, try this. Write down all the reasons why you have the privilege of being bored. Your work is done for the day and you’re financially secure enough that you don’t have to spend the entire night working on “side hustles” to make your rent. You have a roof over your head that isn’t leaking. Your kids sleep through the night on their own. A million and one things came together just right to give you the opportunity to be bored. Don’t take it for granted.
7. Time to spend with our family
I bet sometimes we all crave a little less time to spend with our families, right? Certain events keep us locked away indoors with no one but each other. Maybe an illness keeps us at home. Perhaps it’s a hurricane warning, a blizzard, or even a busted car. Whatever the reason, we find ourselves with no choice but to spend quality time together.
Rather than cursing the universe for taking away your option to leave your home, be grateful that you have a home to stay in. Many don’t. Others wish they could be home with their families, but work in “essential” industries and don’t have that luxury. Some don’t even have families to spend time with and struggle with loneliness day and night.
If you really think about it, there are probably thousands of things that you take for granted every day. We all do it, so don’t think I’m standing on a pedestal lecturing here. We’re so used to wanting more, to living in a society that tells us we never have enough. When we sit and consider all that we have, though, we’ll stop taking so many things for granted and realize that we really are quite fortunate.