“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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.” 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 something—really 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.
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.
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.
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
- 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For
- Why an Attitude of Gratitude Is Essential (And How to Develop It)
- 12 Sad Things That You Should Learn to Be Grateful For Instead
Featured photo credit: Lina Trochez via unsplash.com