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Last Updated on November 27, 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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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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