Gratitude and contentment (as in satisfaction, not apathy) are the key ingredients to a more positive outlook on life. Such emotions take the place of envy, jealousy, dissatisfaction, and feelings of inadequacy, which have no bearing on a healthy state of mind, body, and soul. But feeling grateful and content can be tough; it may not happen overnight. However, a great way to begin is through daily recognition of these seven things we often forget to be thankful for each day.
If you’re reading this, then you’re alive. You were able to wake up this morning while someone else out there was less fortunate. Do not take that fact for granted. So how about you add being grateful for another day to your morning routine along with brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and eating breakfast. What a nice way to set the tone for the rest of your day–and it literally takes two seconds.
You may not be the epitome of good health. You may not be a world-class Olympian, have an incredibly strong immune system, be able to sprint up ten flights of stairs, run a marathon, or have absolutely no health deficiency or illness at all. Regardless, there is always room to be thankful for the health that you do have, even down to the very basic. For instance, being able to walk, run, see, taste, touch, feel, hear, smell, talk, and do certain activities, which someone out there is unable to do but you take for granted.
3. Basic Needs Met
This is probably one of the biggest things we take for granted, right up there with life itself. When was the last time you were grateful for the food on the table, a roof over your head, and the clothes on your back? Food, clothing, and shelter are basics we all need. But when they are easily attained, we forget to be thankful for them. You may not eat at a five-star restaurant every day, wear expensive designer clothing, or live in a mansion; but if you have the basics of these things, remember that someone out there may not. They may be struggling to attain one, two, or even all three of them.
Our lives are full of different kinds of relationships: friends, family, co-workers, doctors, teachers, coaches, etc. When we focus on the trying relationships we have, we forget to recognize and appreciate the more positive ones, especially those we have with our friends and family. Whether the relationship is current or in fond memories, they touch our lives, define us, teach us, shape us, and carry us through difficult times.
5. Talents and Abilities
No matter who you are, there are things you can do that not everybody else can. Maybe it’s an artistic, musical, athletic, or intellectual ability. Or maybe you’re perceptive of others’ emotions, have an eye for detail, take amazing photographs, bake a great apple pie, or know how to make stuff. Whatever it is, even if you’re not the best at it, there is still room to be thankful. So instead of being hard on yourself, remember that there are people out there who were not blessed with your particular talents and abilities. However, they have others. The bottom line is to appreciate and use those that you’ve been given.
6. Lessons Learned
Whether it’s from life experiences, studying and meditating on God’s Word, hearing a powerful speech, conversations with people, or an insightful book, we acquire life lessons in different and sometimes unexpected ways. Remember, someone out there hasn’t had the experience or opportunity to learn a life lesson that is already embedded in you. Now imagine yourself not knowing certain life lessons? How would your perspective change? How might you be different in how you act and react? Clearly, lessons learned are an intimate part of who you are. They help you grow and develop into a wiser and more mature person.
If what you know are not lessons about life, then they are concrete facts. You may not be a genius or savant, but you have knowledge of certain facts that someone else may not. So there is always room to be thankful for every knowledge that you gain and continue to gain, be it at school, work, leisurely reading, etc.
Taking things up a notch, if…
- You’ve survived a near-death experience,
- You have no serious health condition,
- You’re able to get adequate nutrition, be sufficiently clothed, and live comfortably with a roof over your head,
- You are surrounded by a lot of positive, caring, and loving relationships,
- You’re gifted at something,
- You’re blessed with great wisdom,
- You are highly knowledgeable about one or more topics
…If you are able to check off even one of these things, then you should especially, by all means, be thankful for it each day and allow gratitude and contentment to be the foundation to a more positive and enriched life.