Felix held his toy in his mouth. He walked over to his food bowl, placed the toy on the ground and ate the food that was present in his bowl already. He then took his toy again and walked back to his bed that lay there waiting for him, unmolested. The clock struck four, he looked at his guardian who walked over, slipped a collar on and took him for his walk. During the walk, his guardian was never far away and he could run back any time to receive words of affirmation and sometimes, even a treat!
Felix then saw a dog, seemingly homeless, looking thin, dirty, weak and hungry. She did not look like she had eaten for days nor cared for. Felix wondered where she was going to sleep that night. Felix then ran back to his guardian, seemingly grateful for the things he had taken for granted.
Reflect on your life at this moment and consider what you take for granted. The ability to breathe without effort or lack of oxygen. The ability to have a powerful device in your hands that your parents could not have fathomed when they were your age. The availability of clean water, the freedom of speech and thought, and the ability to find any information you seek at a touch of a button.
The fact that you can think, the fact that you can read this article, the fact that you are able to reason in and out of situations – all of this is what gives you the ability to improve your circumstances and become better. It’s important to appreciate this ability because it is a genuine ability. Not everyone is so lucky.
It is easy to get immune to the wonders of the world, be it modern, olden or natural and take things for granted. Remember when you bought/got something new, something that you desired for a very long time. Recall how it drove, inspired and changed your perspective when you were striving to obtain it. Once you had it, how long did it take for you to take it for granted? Psychologists call this hedonic adaptation where the feeling of awe and desire fades away with time.
It is possible to retain that sense of awe, desire and appreciation eternally and that is through Gratitude. Through the practice of Gratitude, adopting the Attitude of Gratitude, you will be able to enjoy the feeling like it was the first time. It is so easy to take things for granted when you do not practice Gratitude.
Seriously – what you take for granted, others wouldn’t even think to dream of.
Take a little time today to remember that you’re blessed with the capacity to use logic and reason to investigate situations and circumstances. This gives you unthinkable power to alter your circumstances and the circumstances of others. And remember that with power comes responsibility.
Be sure to use your power to help yourself to enjoy your journey called life. While you are empowering yourself, use the opportunity to raise others around you up along the way. As said in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” You may see many people in life giving all they got to achieve what they want (you may be one of them), finally getting it, taking things for granted over time and do not have a sense of fulfilment at all. Attaining achievement without fulfilment is the ultimate failure.
The difference between achievement and fulfilment is subtle but distinct. Basically, gaining achievement is what you do for yourself whereas getting fulfilment is what you do for others. So be sure your power to not only elevate yourself, allowing you to become the best version of yourself, but also to use it for others, elevating them, allowing them to become the best versions of themselves. Never take what you have for granted just like you should never take the people in your life for granted.
The question you may like to ask is, what happens when what you have taken for granted is taken away from you? How would you feel then? Would you feel like you have lost something? Would you feel betrayed by life? The reality was that it was never yours to start off with. If you have practised gratitude, apart from being grateful for the moment it was in your life, you would have realised that the future is unpredictable and nothing was ever guaranteed. We entered the world with nothing and we will surely leave the world with nothing. In the end, we carry only our experiences, relationships and sense of fulfilment, not our jobs, possessions or sense of achievement.
So learn how not to take things for granted. Always practice gratitude. Understand that what comes into your life (even with seemingly hard work and effort) is through Grace. The present is in our possession – but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.
Felix took many things for granted in his life until he saw the hungry homeless dog before he realised how lucky he was. What are the things that you take for granted in your life that you would do well being grateful for them instead?
“Hold sacred your capacity for understanding, For in it is all, that our ruling principle won’t allow anything to enter that is either inconsistent with nature or with the constitution of a logical creature. It’s what demands due diligence, care for others and obedience to God.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.9