It’s easy to get weighed down by inconveniences, hardships, or the unknown. Our world is full of these things, and sometimes, the weight can feel crushing. When you find yourself forgetting all that’s available to you, perhaps it’ll help to take stock of the most important things in life. Many of these things are free, guaranteed, and wholly in your control.
In no particular order of importance below, we’ve provided ten important things in life to treasure. Maybe you actively reflect with gratitude on these items or ideas, or maybe you could use a reminder. You may also be interested in creating a reverse bucket list for a lesson in gratitude.
Music can transcend barriers, time, and space that language sometimes creates. It’s no wonder, after all, considering music is likely as old as human existence itself. Even if you only have one or two go-to artists or you regularly listen to hundreds, one of the easiest ways to better connect with yourself and others is through music and sound.
You can easily recall memories, feelings, and more from just a few notes. And, you can share these experiences with others via concerts — either in huge mosh pits or from a humble stereo in your car. Here are some other simple things to be grateful for.
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2. Loved Ones
It’s hard to believe sometimes, but there’s no better evidence that time and space are relative than when you consider the bond you have with your loved ones. Though you may not always be able to be in the same room, state, or even continent as them, your connection can transverse all of this.
There may not be an adequate substitute for being unable to embrace and talk to those close to you face-to-face. However, we live in an age where technology is at least closing the gap a bit more. Handwriting letters to your loved ones can be special, too. Here are 12 other ways to care for someone when you’re far away.
3. Food and Nourishment
What better way to celebrate a milestone — or even just the end of a tough workday — than with a good meal? Food is one of the many ways you can nourish yourself and those close to you.
If even some of these shared experiences start with something as simple as a bowl of cereal, no meal should be taken for granted. Food is a blessing that many people live in fear of not having. Even if you can’t share a meal with all of your loved ones whenever you wish, video calls and chats can make this possible.
And, eating a well-balanced diet can never be underestimated for both your physical health and your mental health. Treating yourself on occasion is important, too, but shouldn’t happen so often that it no longer feels special. Shoot for a variety of food so you can hone in on what you and your body like best.
Many people underrate the security of a roof over their heads and a bed to lie in at night. Your home may not be your dream home. It may not be big, lavish, or easy to manage. However, having a place to take shelter from the elements — either physical or emotional — is essential to your survival. And, if you’re able, pouring just a little more time and energy into making your space your sanctuary can work wonders for your health.
Self-care can look like a lot of different things, and doing everything you can to create a space for yourself to thrive should never be minimized. This is even more crucial if you work from home. While it’s important for your space to be both functional and comfortable, you should have a good system for segregating work time and downtime.
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5. Learning and Education
Beyond free will, one of the most important things we have in this life is the ability to grow and change. And, what better way to connect more deeply with ourselves, our neighbors, and the world around us than learning new skills, concepts, and trades?
It’d be naive to say that everyone has equal access to the same education around the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for us to all learn what we can, when we can. No two people know or understand all of the same things in the exact same way, which is pretty cool. If you enjoy reading, here are some books on gratitude you may be interested in.
6. Natural Spaces
It’s easy to take something as essential as fresh air for granted. And, of course, our world would be robbed of this if it weren’t for an adequate number of natural spaces. These places, though readily available for us to explore, don’t exist solely for our enjoyment. It’s important, of course, to respect these spaces and preserve their dignity. If the roles were reversed, it probably wouldn’t feel too good if someone barged into your home, wrecked your belongings, and left garbage everywhere, would it?
You don’t have to travel to a national park or wonder of the world to experience the true beauty of nature. When was the last time you appreciated the trees in your yard? The wildflowers on your commute? Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective and a desire to just “be in it.” Spending a little more time outside can work wonders for your health, if even for just a few minutes a day.
7. Plants and Animals
Furthermore, natural spaces would lose much of their essence without plants and animals. Plants and animals allow us to bring nature indoors and create our own sanctuaries wherever we are. And, it’s likely the specific “animals” in your life hold quite a bit of significance. You probably would do as much for them as any of your family members (if not even more).
The same goes for enthusiastic plant owners, too. Even in the lonelier moments of our lives, bringing in living beings to care for adds purpose, responsibility, and value. Our pets often live selfless lives to make us happy. And, it’s likely everyone agrees they’re here for too short of time. If you’d like to show your gratitude to your pet, check out these 15 dog bucket list ideas.
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8. Culture and Discovery
Culture and discovery go hand in hand with learning and education. The world is a huge place, and though we’re all very similar, we’re all incredibly different, too. It’s important to recognize and appreciate the nuances and history of each and every culture — from food, to traditions, language, and more. It’s true that some cultures have dark pasts (even presents), but this doesn’t negate the need for widespread understanding.
Rather, it highlights the importance of preserving and perpetuating what’s pure, innocent, and good. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve felt connected to your own family’s ancestry and culture. Perhaps it’s time you reach out to your family members or recount some family stories. Or, maybe you’re interested in different holiday traditions from around the world.
9. Spirituality and Religion
No matter what you believe in or how large or small your faith or spiritual community is, you have the sole capacity to choose all of these things. It’d be incorrect to say that all belief systems make it easy for individuality.
However, if you’re lucky enough to be part of a community that allows choice, this is incredibly powerful. In these cases, you completely control what values and ideals your mind and heart subscribe to. This, in turn, determines how well you treat yourself, others, and the world at large.
Somedays, it may feel easier to believe in nothing at all, not even yourself. Of course, as you may know, faith comes down to believing in things you don’t fully see or understand. It can be difficult and painful, sure, but taking inventory of the small blessings in your life often helps when nothing else seems to be going right.
10. Your Health
We cannot always defend ourselves from every sickness or injury. However, appreciating the power that our bodies have — if we so choose to use it — is crucial. Curling up in a comfortable chair is a great luxury, but our bodies were meant to move and grow and change and carry us through life. Pain and age are inevitable, but we have so many opportunities to take charge of our health each day.
Will you try to forego the elevator? Aim for adequate sleep? Indulge in moderation? Listen to what your body is telling you? It’s not always the most fun thing to do, but your life — and the quality of your life — literally depends on it.
Everything is All We Have
You may not think you have everything you could ever want. But in the meantime, everything is all you have. Let that sink in. You constantly stand to lose everything that you own and everyone in your life, but you can constantly work to maintain and build upon these treasures, too.
Perhaps writing a thank you note to someone special in your life will benefit your outlook and help you express your feelings. For more bits of perspective, check out the rest of Cake, as well as the 35+ best birthday resolutions to try this year.