I’m continuously fascinated by how fortunate we are to live in the time we live in, to be living the way we live, and to think and behave the way we do as a result.
I often feel like a kid the way I observe things and people around me…including myself.
Most of us don’t worry about basic comforts:
- We live in climate-controlled environments
- We have appliances that help us prepare our food and keep our it from spoiling, others to wash our clothes and others still to entertain us
- We have many means of transportation available to get us to where we want to go
- We can go out and buy the food, clothing and any other material goods we want
And it’s all wonderful, as long as we remember to notice. But we often don’t.
So much of what we use today was not available 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 years ago or more. But how often do we stop to appreciate what human innovation has made available to us? Nearly every basic—and not so basic—desire is available and ever-increasingly affordable and convenient to get and use.
How often do we stand in awe of our running water, our paved roads, our homes, our many communication services, even of our ease in heating or cooling our homes and offices?
How often do we think about just what it takes to make a car available for us to drive? A computer for us to use?
Not often enough.
I’m ashamed I used to be blind to much of it, too busy with my life and my priorities to take a moment and appreciate just about everything I have access to.
Worse yet, I’m ashamed of how often I’ve felt entitled to these things as though they constitute a birth right, despite the reality that all I did was be one of the lucky winners of the birth lottery: born at the right time, in the right place, to the right people and circumstances.
While I’m pleased at my continued awe at the water that comes out of the faucet every morning, I find I need to work to sustain my attention toward just how great things and services available to me are, even when life throws me a curve ball, or two, or three.
How do I stay thankful? By going without from time to time.
I’m more grateful for what I'm coming to take for granted when I take a holiday from using it. For example, I take a holiday from:
- My favourite shampoo by using a cheaper or no name brand
- My bathtub by taking showers instead
- Our car by walking, biking or taking public transportation
- Heating or cooling by using less of these or by turning them off completely and experiencing the changing daily/nightly temperatures
- A glass of wine in the evening, going for tea instead
- My computer & smartphone, by picking up a book instead
…and yes, even swapping out fancy toilet paper for the cheapest stuff available as a reminder that my grandmother used to use pages from the Sears catalogue or old newspapers when she visited the outhouse as a young girl.
These holidays from 21st century luxuries keep me grounded, reminding me that I’d be fine without them and to be grateful that I have access to them when and if I so choose.
I find these holidays also make me more patient and understanding when things don’t go quite as planned…unlike the people & events Louis CK describes below. I promise, it's pretty funny, maybe even pee-your-pants funny. :)