This week, I discuss how to avoid taking things for granted by earning everyday luxuries.
Table of Contents
- What Do You Take For Granted?
- Make The Small Luxuries A Reward And You Won’t Forget Them
- Gratitude Makes You A Stronger Individual
- Reading List
What Do You Take For Granted?
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus
Taking things for granted is the human condition. We see the comforts of modern times and fatally assume we will always have such treasures.
Now, you may be diligent. You may recognize your family, friends, intelligence, and other gifts are not to be abused, ignored, or squandered. Regularly practicing gratitude is difficult but essential to being a healthy individual.
However, everything from the food you eat to the air conditioning in your home is not automatic or simple. So often and quickly taken for granted, these small luxuries must also remain at the forefront of your mind. Thus, you must remember that man does not enjoy warm food, endless entertainment, or technological wonders in his default state. In his default state, man dies because of rotten teeth at the ripe old age of 20.
Our Collective Lack of Gratitude
Unfortunately, weak individuals assume our current comforts do not require maintenance or protection. For example, they wrongly assume they will always have tasty, affordable food without capitalism. Thus, they freely attack the very economic system ensuring products are universal and inexpensive enough to keep them healthy and alive.
As individualists, we must avoid the fatal error selfish and short-sighted people make. Nothing is guaranteed – everything can be lost or taken away. By making small luxuries a reward, you can protect yourself from the ingratitude of our present culture.
Make The Small Luxuries A Reward And You Won’t Forget Them
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
The reward mindset involves doing something you don’t like to earn what you do. If you go to the gym, you can play video games. If you finish your work, you can have a snack, and so forth.
The reward mindset involves pursuing the extras of life: the games, the television, the snacks. However, you will lose sight of the things you take for granted: the warm showers, your heated home, background music, and so forth.
Therefore, if you make the small luxuries of life the reward, you are more likely to appreciate the little things you typically take for granted.
Why Should You Pursue This Path?
Firstly, when small luxuries are the reward, you begin to appreciate those luxuries. For example, if you earn a warm shower after a hard day’s work, you will value that shower more. How? By reflecting on the luxury of having running water that is heated to fulfill your wants. You may think this is no big deal, but any casual glance at human history shows such a luxury is a rarity. Thus, you should appreciate it.
Secondly, if you want more of a challenge, then shifting to smaller luxuries as rewards will provide it. Rewarding yourself with “excess” pleasures such as video games, TV, and internet browsing are indulges, and your mind is aware of it. However, if you work hard to earn the smallest of luxuries, you humble yourself. You’ll understand how life is hard, and even the slightest joy requires immense effort. Once you grasp this concept, you’re less likely to waste time or indulge in ingratitude.
What are some small luxuries you can pursue?
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Warm showers
- Desserts (you make yourself)
- An opportunity to go down an educational rabbit hole
- Time to work on a junk project (like a game you won’t release)
Once again, these may seem silly, but that’s the point. Being able to go down an educational rabbit hole? This is a small luxury built on the back of technology you didn’t make, information you never crafted, and free time made possible by human advancements you didn’t develop.
These are small luxuries worthy of your appreciation. When these luxuries become the reward of your hard work, you will pay attention to them.
Not Everything Can/Should Be A Reward
Of course, not everything should be a reward. For example, don’t make showers a prize. Make warm showers a prize. Don’t make eating a reward. Make desserts a reward.
For example, you should be grateful for the time, cars, and roads that give you the chance to visit your grandma. However, communal enrichment should not be an arbitrary goal to motivate you. It should be an end in itself and empower you to self-improvement and humility.
Gratitude Makes You A Stronger Individual
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” – G.K. Chesterton
Gratitude involves appreciating what you have, so you are less likely to waste your resources, abuse your community, or ignore what is meaningful. When you admire small luxuries, you are less likely to complain, experience bitterness, or give up.
If you find yourself complaining too often or being ungrateful around those who matter most, then cut back on your indulges. Take cold showers until you earn a warm one. Work without music until you earn just one song. Exercise as hard as you can, then reward yourself by looking at the sunset.
Become an individual, and you will not waste what you have.
- Finding True Happiness by FR. Robert Spitzer – Happiness comes from generosity and gratitude. This book will break down why virtue is crucial to experiencing true happiness, especially in an age of such anxiety and ingratitude.
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Up from Slavery, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Reading about the lives of slaves and former-slaves helps me realize one thing: life is better than it has ever been. When I inundate myself with stories of the past, I protect my mind from ingratitude. If you read these autobiographies and truly appreciate the progress that has been made, you will complain less and appreciate more.
“Take full account of what Excellencies you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.” – Marcus Aurelius
- What are small luxuries you are grateful for? Which small luxuries do you take for granted?
- What activities support your health, communal wellbeing, and purpose? How often do you participate in these activities? How can you ensure your life is full of these pleasures?
- What are your life goals? Do you take having a purpose in life for granted?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.