It’s can be really difficult to have gratitude for something you didn’t know you actually had. In the digital age, our time and attention can be very limited, bouncing back and forth constantly. It is not often that we get a moment to pause and think about not only what is going on with us, but what isn’t. “Hmm, what would it be like if I didn’t have ______ right now.” For me, the most recent example of this is a relatively crippling headache. In my 29 years, I’ve never had frequent headaches and definitely never one lasting more than a few hours. This week, I’ve had a headache for six straight days.
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
Having this constant pressure in my temples for the last six days has made me realize how incredibly amazing it is to not have a headache. That may seem a little silly, but I promise you this: I’ll absolutely appreciate having a clear, constructive mind as soon as this pain goes away. I’ve been to the doctor and I don’t have any symptoms of a more serious issue – so it’s likely a virus or stress that may be causing it. Regardless, refocusing and taking intentional time to appreciate the things that I do have despite the headache is what helps get me through it.
The only way that we can be more aware of the things that we don’t know we have, is to take a moment to pause and consider them. A great way to do this is to spend some time quietly, avoiding distraction (some may call it meditation or prayer) to process our current state. Taking some time to mentally list the things that we’re grateful for. At times I’ve used writing as a way to bring awareness: At the end of the day I’ll write 100-200 things down that I appreciate having in my life. It’s amazing what you’ll come up with during this practice – and also quite interesting to see what things may take up a lot of our time during the days, yet are omitted from the list. The first time I tried this exercise, I wrote down a list of over 200 things I was grateful for and not a single item pertaining to social media made it on the list. It made me consider how I was spending my time and if it was in alignment with what I felt was truly important.
It is true that shoveling snow makes you appreciate the beautiful, warm summer so much more – and this philosophy applies to most areas of life. If you don’t have a headache today – take a moment to appreciate it, I know I will.