If I ask you to share three things in your life right now that you dislike or create stress for you, could you do it? Of course, you could. What if I then asked you to share three things that you are very grateful for in your life? Could you come up with three things? Of course, you could. So what’s the difference between the two answers? The main difference is what you focused on. It started with the question I asked. Once I asked the question, your mind shifted to focus on either things you dislike and cause you stress, or things you were grateful for.
I make this simple point because most of what we focus on begins with a question that leads us in a particular direction. Guess who asks the questions most of the time? YOU DO!
While we should be focusing more on what is good in our lives, all those things we are grateful for, we often don’t. Instead we wake up in the morning immediately thinking about what we don’t have, what we can’t do, or what we don’t like. Well… if there is one time each year that we really need to think about what is good in our lives, it is this week… on Thanksgiving.
There is one exercise that I recommend at just about every speaking engagement I do. This is a gratitude exercise… which is to take one to two minutes each day to think of three things that you are grateful for. I love it because it only takes a couple of minutes, it costs nothing, you can do it anywhere, it instantly changes your state, and even impacts your body by boosting your immune system.
So… I was going to make this article about that and make that recommendation to you. However, I was recently listening to a podcast in which they were discussing what is called the Law of Familiarity, which states that if you are around anything enough, you will tend to take it just a little bit for granted. It caught my attention and got me thinking. Instead of thinking what I was grateful for (in my gratitude exercise I explained above), I decided to think about what I am taking for granted. Basically, a simple twist on the gratitude exercise, but got me thinking about things in a different way.
So this week, on Thanksgiving, try it. Think of one thing that you are around a lot that you have taken for granted. How about simple things, like central heat or air conditioning, having a car, access to a grocery store loaded with all types of food, or shoes on your feet? And how about the bigger things you take for granted… your job, your spouse, your family, or the fact that you have a heart in your chest that pumps 43 million times per year?
I remember complaining to myself one day about something trivial, possibly the weather, or maybe it was traffic. And I heard a news story about a woman in another country traveling hundreds of miles, on foot, with her two young children, to get to a refugee camp. Along the way, she had to decide which child to leave behind, as their water supply was running out. Wow! I was rocked. That shifted my thinking since that day.
We all have heard, and know, that we don’t appreciate what we have until it is gone. Why wait until it is gone? Imagine life without one of the things you take for granted now… give that some thought… and be grateful for that this Thanksgiving. It’s human nature to take things for granted, thus requiring us to make a conscious effort to reflect on, and be grateful for, all that we have. Do not let the Law of Familiarity adversely affect, or destroy, any area of your life. Happy Thanksgiving… and thank YOU for reading what I write.
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