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Are You Taking Things FOR Granted, or AS Granted?

Nov 20, 2022

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

                                                                                           -  Zig Ziglar


Thanksgiving 2022 will soon be upon us. 


It is certainly an understatement to say that 2020 has been an unusual, and in many cases, a very challenging year.


In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that spread across our country, it caused many of us to celebrate out last twoThanksgivings in a limited and very different way from how we have done in the past.


For me, this the first year I will be back around a table full of family and friends. 


However, what I realized today is, even though I consider myself to be someone who lives life with a high appreciation for what I have to be grateful for in my life, there are still things that I have grown to take for granted – one of those is spending holidays with family and friends.


Additionally, during the course of the pandemic, I have realized how I have taken for granted some of my favorite activities that are currently curtailed.  These include:


Going to my favorite movie theater and binging on popcorn as I watch a show, hanging out in the Whole Foods food court and running into friends, going to a Sunday church service full of happy and high-energy beings, going to my yoga studio and practicing with a room full of friendly yogis, sitting at a coffee shop and working on my computer, teaching a marital arts class full passionate students, going to a Broncos football game with my son and 76,000 of my closest friends, and finally, my mom and aunt’s annual visit to Denver from their homes in Wisconsin, to name a few.


There is, of course, some sadness as I write these words, but there is also a joy and awareness of the things I enjoy and a realization that I have an opportunity to value and appreciate them even more.


Said another way, rather than taking things FOR granted, I can do a much better job of seeing things AS granted.



 As we move into this time of Thanksgiving this year, I would encourage all of us to consider the following to ensure we are placing the greatest amount of value and appreciation on the things most important to us.


1) Slow Down – Many times we can miss or simply overlook the people, places and things that are most important to us because we are living life at such an accelerated place


If COVID-19 has done anything (yes, there is almost always something positive to appreciate, even in our times of great challenge), it has given many of us the opportunity to slow down and just “be,” noticing the things around us, maybe for the first time.


When we do this, there is so much we can become aware of and appreciate.  In doing this we open our awareness up to all of the things we have to be grateful for, and we even may come to see the blessings in things we previously labeled as “negative” in our lives.


2) Connect and be present when saying “thank you” – I don’t know about you, but for me, saying ‘thank you’ had in many ways has become a reflexive response of social norms, rather than a sincere form of expressing gratitude.


This recently came to my awareness during my weekly visits it to my local grocery store.  I often had my mind on my next errand as I go to pay for items and would not be entirely present with the people checking me out. 


While the checkers who are scanning my groceries are certainly almost always polite and professional in serving of me, they will usually respond to me in kind, running my items across the scanner with very little connection or pleasantries shared.  When they were complete, they usually would hand me my receipt with almost no eye contact and said, ‘thank you’. 


With this being the case, I decided to play a little game.  Since each of the checkout people have name tags, I began to address each of them by name when I approached their counter,


“Hi, Jennifer, how are you?”


In almost all cases, I would see them respond with a smile and a friendly conversation would ensue. 


When the process was completed, I would once again acknowledge them by name and express my appreciation,


“Thanks so much, Jennifer.  Have a great day!”


While I began this process to create a friendly exchange with the person serving me, I began to realize how this conscious practice of gratitude was positively impacting me.  Just that small interaction and a few words of appreciation elevated my state of being and got me set up for my next interaction and adventure.


The gift for me was really being present, in at least one instance, when saying ‘thank you’.  Where do you have an opportunity to be more present in your expression of gratitude?


3) Remember gratitude is not just a feeling, it is a practice – Several years ago, I was introduced to the practice of doing a daily gratitude journal as one of the last things I do before I go to sleep each night.


This simple practice was transformational for me. 


In his book, Thanks, author, Robert Emmons details the positive impact of recording just 5 items we are grateful for each day in a gratitude journal.  These include:

  • Better Sleep/Feeling Rested – Subjects who recorded items in their gratitude each night reported that they had better night’s sleep and woke up more rested and refreshed.
  • 25% Increase in Happiness – These same research participants actually recorded a 25% increase in their level of happiness than before their gratitude journal practice began. Anyone up for 25% more happiness?
  • Flourishing Relationships – Gratitude journalists reported distinct improvement in their relationships with their partners, workmates, family and friends. And finally…
  • Emotional Incompatibility with Negative Emotions – Positive and negative thoughts and emotions cannot co-exist in the mind at the same time. As a result, participants found that getting themselves in a state of gratitude allowed them to have a more positive perspective on life, reducing their level of negative thoughts and feelings.


So, this Thanksgiving season, my friend, wherever and with whomever you are able to spend time with this holiday season, make gratitude a practice, particularly with the little things in life – and particularly those things you may have taken for granted.


We are all blessed, indeed.  When we transform our thoughts about our everyday experiences and the people in our lives as being granted to us as gifts, rather than usual things that we take for granted, life transforms in a very special way.


Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


Chris Natzke

Black Belt Leadership Speaking & Coaching


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