Forgetting to Remember
In case it isn’t obvious to you already, let me confess that I am in fact a Pinterest Junkie. In addition to my craft interests, I also enjoy the funny entries and quotes. One I’ve seen with some regularity of the latter category is: “What would it be like if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”
On more days than I care to admit, my life would be pretty awful if this happened. Like most people, I seem to forget to remember often enough to take stock in what I have to be grateful about. The end result of this is probably not that, God will open the heavens with a lightening curse and take everything away. That doesn’t make the result any less dramatic. Because what happens when I forget to remember is that, I distance myself from the joy of truly embracing all that I have. It’s there for me to experience and when I fail to recognize its true value, I get less joy.
There is a pretty funny old episode of the TV show Friends in which Alec Baldwin plays Phoebe’s new boyfriend Parker (you can check it out on YouTube). He is over exuberant about everything to the point that it drives everyone in his path crazy. His need to comment jubilantly about every small detail and experience causes Chandler to utter “Somewhere there is someone with a tranquilizer gun and a huge butterfly net looking for that man!” I’m not suggesting we all become a slightly less annoying version of Parker. But I am thinking that there is a substantial impact on our mood when we regularly remember not to forget what is around us right now in our lives.
I also have a word of caution. Sometimes I notice that people remember to appreciate what they have by way of comparing their lot to what others don’t have. An example of this is “Well, at least I’m not like that person I saw in the wheel chair.” Another is “There are people starving in some third world country and my belly is full.” While I appreciate the effort to be grateful, it comes at the cost of finding value only as a measure against someone else having a worse set of circumstances. This approach is more likely to produce relief at best, guilt at worse, and in either case, not much joy.
It’s admirable to notice the less fortunate but not as a means to bolster one’s own circumstances emotionally. The way to feel good about what we have is to simply focus on what we have whether or not anyone else has or doesn’t have the same. Authentic value comes from owning the voice that bestows it, as opposed to temporarily renting it from an outside source. As long as we depend on something outside us to determine what we find valuable, our happiness is subject to whether or not that outside source wants to continue to validate our need.
The new year is for most of us, off to a robust start. We are back to our routines, normal schedules and responsibilities. To avoid having the conversation with yourself in December of 2016 about how much of the year seemed to escape without your notice, this is a perfect time to begin incorporating some “taking notice of what is around you” time. All it takes is the willingness to remember that this is all you know that you have- right now. Acknowledge it and if possible, be grateful.