So today I'm going to talk about gratitude, and about not taking things for granted. I've said in a previous blog that we all filter out the things we see every day, no matter how spectacular they may be. This especially applies to the places where we were born and brought up. The person who has had Kings College Chapel in Cambridge as their backdrop (and other similarly gorgeous buildings in that town) their entire life is not going to appreciate it as much as the tourist. Likewise any landmark you can think of; the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, Stonehenge. Familiarity breeds contempt, or at least indifference.
The same can be said with any aspect of day to day living. You take for granted the everyday things you do, the people you see, live with and care about. You do, see, and interact with these things and people every day and gradually you stop really seeing them and you stop being in the moment. Instead you are on automatic pilot, but life is continuing whether you are present in your mind or not.
I've also said before that cliches have become well known and oft repeated for the simple reason that they are usually true. We do take things and people for granted just because they are always there. It takes absence to make the heart fonder and that is because, as another cliche says, you only realise how much something means to you when it is gone - or you are. So if you have lived in a place like Cambridge, Paris, or Rome, you only realise how special your city is when you go somewhere else. You only understand the depth of history you have been walking past every day when you are somewhere else that perhaps does not have the same depth. You only understand the beauty of those buildings when you are living where the buildings are all utilitarian.
The same of course goes for people. No matter how much you may love the people you are with, you will begin to take them for granted for no other reason than that they are always there. And it's only when you are separated that you appreciate them again. This does not mean that you love them less, or that you do not appreciate them as no doubt you do. But when was the last time you thought about it, or said it? When was the last time you took a few minutes to be thankful for the people in your life and to remember what they do for you, or to really look at the Colosseum or whatever it is you are walking past and ignoring. We complain about the tourists staring at things and getting in our way and yet we should also stop and stare and appreciate our good fortune to have such things in the world. We should take the time each day to think about the people and things in our life and to be thankful they are there.
Life happens, whether we want it to or not, time passes whether we acknowledge it or not. Each and every moment will never exist again, not exactly like the one before or the one after. Nothing lasts forever, another cliche that is so true. It's a source of comfort for the bad times, a reminder to make the most of the good times. It's something to tell ourselves each and every day. Nothing lasts forever, so we should take the time each day to remember the things in our lives that make them special. We should take the time each day to be thankful for them, to stop taking them for granted and to truly appreciate them. Even in the worst days - and I've had enough of them to be able to speak from experience - there is something to be thankful for. Not that I can ever remember anything during those dark times, but perhaps if I remind myself every day that nothing is forever, and take stock of all that I have to be thankful for, perhaps those dark days will be easier to endure.
So give it a try, first thing in the morning or last thing at night, spend some time thinking about all the things and all the people you are grateful for. I'll bet once you start you'll find that it's a lot more than you realised.