The Things We Took For Granted- Why We All Need Gratitude in the Middle of a Pandemic

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Before Coronavirus cancelled life as we knew it, many of us were at our jobs in the service industry, hospitality or travel, annoyed with certain coworkers, and dreaming of different careers.

Some of us were enjoying a booming economy, looking forward to well- earned vacations or never having to shave our legs again after six to eight laser hair removal sessions.

I found myself watching an Instagram Live video with Cardi B late one night and the famous rapper said, amidst a Coronavirus rant expressing fear and sadness, “Man I wanted to go get lipo!” The economy has been good for many of us.

Some of us were rushing our kids off to school every morning, silently criticizing the teachers methods. Now some of us would take a teacher with a criminal record over the homeschooling alternative.

Some of us were thousands of miles away from our aging parents and grandparents, putting off visits because we still have plenty of time.

Some of us were bracing ourselves for fully booked Airbnb reservations and fat deposits landing in our bank accounts, Spring breaks, and peak rates in the hotel industry. Some of us were already lamenting the increase of tourism traffic to our towns.

Some of us were wishing for better local restaurants, with healthier options, or more options that cater to the diet du jour. Now we’d happily eat a burger and enjoy a beer on the patio at Rod’s Pub and Grill. He has the best fries.

It’s like that saying, “if we all threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” I think many of us are realizing that we’d like to take our old problems back in exchange for these new problems of pandemic proportions.

How blessed we were, and may we never forget what Coronavirus has taught us so quickly: perspective.

What a privilege it is to have our kids education and day care on the shoulders of someone else. How luxurious it is to spend an hour or two and $65 to have someone manicure your fingernails and paint them a pretty color. What a treat it is to meet a friend at a restaurant, and enjoy a meal you don’t have to cook or clean up.

What a pleasure it is to go out and about, get all dressed up, and listen to live music or stand up comedy, or smuggle in your favorite snacks to a movie theater and see the movie you’ve been looking forward to for months.

It’s a gift to get together with friends and family, and to hug them freely. A gift to go to your nieces birthday party, or your friend from high school’s wedding.

Even the joy of people watching in a crowd is something many of us took for granted.

This isn’t to say we’ll never experience these simple pleasures again, because we will. Some of us just aren’t sure when. Life will go on, as it always has, and as it always will, with new adjustments and we will adapt.

It’s too easy to fill our heads with an endless stream of terrifying news headlines and articles, and to panic about the future. It’s good to be informed, but panic isn’t going to help you or any of us. Let’s take a moment instead to consider the things we took for granted, and to remember to not make that same mistake, and to actively practice gratitude for everything that remains.

Plus, according to Harvard University, gratitude can actually make you happier, and we could all use a happiness boost right now. Gratitude can even improve depression, sleep, heart health, as well as lessen aches and pains.

Things change in the blink of an eye. We never know when they might change rapidly again, so now more than ever let’s remember to cherish the good times, and know and trust that the hard times will pass. The good times come and go, so notice them as they are happening. The hard times, too, never last, and always bring the greatest growth and perspective.

We will come out wiser, stronger, and gain a renewed appreciation and gratitude for the simple things and for life itself, if we choose to.

Let this be the reminder of the century not to take our privileges and blessings for granted, and to realize how spoiled and blessed so many of us are to have jobs, family, friends, money in our bank accounts, food in our cupboards, toilet paper in our bathrooms, and disposable income. Nothing is ever perfect or exactly as we want it, but you often don’t realize how good you had it until you don’t have it anymore.

Let this be the reminder to count our blessings, even and especially, mid-pandemic. Whether it’s the feeling of sunshine on your face, technology to connect you to loved ones and a world of information and entertainment, or fresh air in your lungs, flowers blooming outside your door, and things that make you laugh, let’s remember how quickly things can change, and to not let these blessings slip away without slowing down to really, fully appreciate them.

Let us hold on to the pleasure that remains. Our relationships, our friendships, our family, our communities, art, music, movies, books, food, shelter, nature, flowers blooming, dancing, and good health. Musicians, DJs, authors, and comedians are doing livestream events. People are banding together to provide free food, make face masks, offer free digital therapy sessions, and to create financial relief for those in need. Pollution is rapidly decreasing. There are blue skies in Beijing and dolphins in the Venice canals. Flowers are still blooming right on time. Cakes are still being made.

So, how do you put gratitude into practice?

You can think it, sure, but putting it in writing and making this a physical act helps us make it a habit we’re less likely to forget.

This is the perfect time to start a gratitude journal. You can also share three things you are grateful for, out loud, with your partner or kids every day. You can write down five things you are grateful for each day, put them in a jar, and then read them at the end of each month. You can share your gratitude list on social media every day, and encourage others to join you.

Let this be a wake up call to commit more deeply to gratitude and not waiver from that commitment, no matter what is happening around us, or how many things we might change if we could.

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