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Last Updated on August 21, 2020

Why Taking Things for Granted Can Take Away Your Joy

Why Taking Things for Granted Can Take Away Your Joy

“When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.” –Unknown

Don’t let life just pass you by. Open your eyes to what is around you. You are here, at this moment—alive. But are you taking things for granted? If you are, it’s time to change all that.

It’s like in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is told at the end by Glenda the Good Witch that she had what it took all along. That’s like you. You have what it takes, now, inside you. Your journey anywhere starts within. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving, and with it, you can find joy.

Yet, taking things for granted can take away that joy. You lose your power and purpose. You don’t stop to smell the roses anymore. You don’t even look at them. You let go of the little things, and the rest goes with it.

But when you experience gratitude and joy, you flourish. You find yourself. You know who you are. You let yourself breathe when you feel the weight of the world on you. You learn to let go and appreciate the good rather than hold onto things that no longer serve you. And all of this is within your reach.

Here are five reasons why taking things for granted can take away your joy.

1. Selfishness

When you lack gratitude, you may find yourself thinking only of yourself. Your actions may be more selfish. You may isolate yourself from those you love and care about because you only see your needs. This action makes you more self-serving and living for the ego’s fulfillment rather than feeling true selflessness and joy.

When you have others on your agenda, you are less alone and happier. You have support, understanding, and compassion because you are also giving it. What you give comes back to you, in some way. And that is enough.

If you partake in more selfless behavior and see those around you for what they’re worth, you will be more prone to giving a helping hand. Then, you too will know that you’re not alone.

You have more reasons to live for. You have more people to share things with. You have goals that may better serve the world.

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With empathy, you can touch lives. Your own life can be transformed by being kind and considerate of those around you. But you can’t do all that if you don’t look at what you have. You have to lead with empathy, not with ego, and you will stop taking things for granted in your life. Then, you can give joy and receive it too.

2. Negative Emotions

According to Psychology Today, lead gratitude researcher Robert Emmons has found that gratitude reduces depression and increases happiness.[1] It is directly related to your mental health and the joy you feel.

This means that on a psychological level, gratitude can boost your moods and improve your overall wellbeing. Dopamine and serotonin are released in the brain, making you feel joy. However, it doesn’t take the place of psychiatrist’s recommendations if you do need medication, but it does aid anyone who tries it towards having a better life.

It’s okay to feel negative from time to time. But when you are feeling that way most of the time, you find yourself joyless and directionless. You lose sight of who you are and what you’re about. Your aims become less about your needs and more about what others expect from you.

However, a simple act of appreciation can change the outcome of your life and emotional well-being. You have feelings for a reason—they are meant to show you what you need. And if you don’t listen to them, they become louder.

Maybe the lessons your emotions are trying to teach you is to stop chasing whatever comes your way and see what you have. Appreciate how far you have come.

Mental health declines when you don’t live with gratitude. You may fall into a depression or find yourself unhappy with what you have. You may be stressed, not living for the right things, or feeling overwhelmed. You may see only your problems.

But if you choose gratitude, you also choose joy. You let in the positive and fix your focus. Your gratitude is your natural mood booster. When you see what you have, you decide to stay. You decide to keep fighting for yourself. You have a healthier attitude and way of being. This helps you overall.

This can aid with depression. This can aid with anxiety, worry, stress, and anger. You can take a step back and go, “Okay, this is what is good.” That is all you need to do to turn the situation around.

Then, you have that good with you in your heart when you make decisions. You look up with more optimism and feel lighter. You don’t have to carry everything that you’ve been carrying. Sometimes, it feels good to set it down and see what’s most important.

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3. Insecurity May Brew

If you don’t see your worth, no one can help you with that. It’s up to you to see what you have. It’s up to you to know that you may have imperfections, but that it is not the definition of who you are.

Your flaws are just another feature. They are not meant to detract from you. Your strength derives from your uniqueness in life.

Follow the path that is your own. Don’t compete or compare. Just be yourself. Make a list of not only what you have, but also what you would want someone to say to you.

For example, use positive affirmations:

  • I am worthy.
  • I am imperfectly perfect.
  • I am full of wonder and joy.
  • I know who I am.

Add to the list, and you will find yourself more able to withstand anything. Find yourself naming your wins and not focusing on your weaknesses. You summon more strength that way.

You must not take for granted the journey you’ve been on. It’s because of you, not anything else, that you are still standing here. That has to count for something.

You can feel secure by knowing that you have a lot to offer. You can choose to please others or please yourself. In the end, you have to live with yourself. And if you can do that, you’ve won.

Then, your emotional well-being will no longer suffer. Appreciation creates authenticity. Do not be focused anymore on being someone you’re not. Listen to who you are and find some value in that. That is where you can find joy.

4. Resilience May Be Stifled

What have you achieved lately that you can be proud of? Do you see your power in doing so and that anything is possible?

Resilience may be stifled if you don’t see the good that you have to offer, the tools you have around you, the people you can count on, and the opportunities available to you.

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If you decide to keep going, find some reassurance in knowing that you can be imperfect and still follow your path and make a difference.

What decisions have you made lately where you were not afraid? Are you trusting or living in fear?

Greater Good Magazine at Berkeley explores the idea of gratitude through hard times as a “psychological immune system.”[2] Gratitude acts as a shield towards what we are going through, as we become more resilient over time.

Think about the ways you have succeeded in life already, what you have to give, and use that as a shield.

See what’s around you, and that can make you realize that despite struggle and hardship, you’ve got this. You can do this. You can master this. As the poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley goes, “I am the captain of my soul.”

If you are struggling, remember that others would easily trade places with you. It doesn’t mean that the road you walk isn’t difficult. It just means that you should appreciate what you have before it’s too late.

Nothing can shake you if you know what you have. That is truly how you find some meaning in life, no matter what. That’s how you let in the joy.

5. You’re Less “in the Moment”

When was the last time you watched a sunrise or sunset? When was the last time you really felt the rain? When was the last time you smiled at a stranger? When was the last time you really felt somethingreally felt alive?

If it’s been a while, it’s time to tap into the moment. Make it count. Because right now is all you are promised, and you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You only know what you can give right now.

If you take things for granted, you are less “in the moment.” You are less present. You miss out on the things that matter and the people, places, events, and things that are happening because you’re not appreciating them. You miss out on the joy from the simple things.

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When you’re taking things for granted, there are consequences—the memories that could have been made fade away, the people you could have held close leave your side, and the opportunities to be your bravest, best self go away. That’s because you must choose to be here.

This is about mindfulness. Psych Central discusses how gratitude is about being mindful, observing yourself without judgment in anything you go through, and learning to show yourself some grace.[3]

Gratitude is a meditation you can do each day starting with a simple gratitude list. What do you have right now that you can use? You can also ground yourself—focus on your five senses and notice the little things you were missing before.

Living in the moment brings you what you need. You see clearer if you take the time to feel each moment. You can find gratitude in each situation, even for just being here.

It doesn’t mean it will be easy. It just means that you were here, and people will know it by how you lived your life. It doesn’t solve everything, but it’s a start.

So, stop looking away from the sunrise and sunset. Stop walking so quickly past the scenic views. Stop ignoring those who love and depend on you. It’s all happening, right now. That’s the reason gratitude works. It keeps us sane. In all the world’s madness, we know who we are because we experience that joy. That joy is yours too.

Final Thoughts

You can have joy today. Just find gratitude rather than take things for granted. Then, you will have what you need. That’s when life happens—that’s when you wake up and feel at your best because you know what you have and what it took to get here.

The world will keep spinning. But if you stop and take a look around now and then, you will see all you have.

More to Remind You to Be Grateful

Featured photo credit: Lina Trochez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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