“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” says the song.
And I think that’s true for most of us, most of the time.
We go through life somewhat mindlessly, not really appreciating what we have until it’s taken from us.
- We don’t notice the blessing of heat or A/C until it breaks.
- We don’t appreciate our comfy bed until we spend multiple nights in the ER.
- We don’t notice how wonderful baby snuggles are until our babies grow up.
- We don’t appreciate breathing until we get a cold.
- We don’t notice the sunshine until clouds appear.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
There’s nothing stopping us from appreciating what we’ve got while we have it!
Two things help me to see what I have before it’s gone, and maybe they’ll help you too.
1. Remember that things will change.
Often, we don’t appreciate what we’ve got simply because we think we will have it forever.
But pretty much nothing in this world is forever.
Babies grow up.
Children leave home.
Bodies wear out.
I know this can be sort of a depressing line of thinking if you dwell too much on it, but I think it’s a useful tool to help motivate us to see what we have right now.
Shortly before Lisey was born, something happened to someone else (a long story that’s not mine to tell!) that reminded me there was no guarantee I’d have more babies in the future.
Because of that, I treasured Lisey like she was my last baby, soaking up the newborn snuggles, making sure to notice and appreciate all the lovely things about her baby self.
I remember often sitting for a few extra minutes after burping her post-feeding in the middle of the night, just memorizing the warm feel of her sleeping on me.
I did the same with Sonia.
And then with Zoe.
The realization that things could change made me appreciate what I had in the moment.
And it made me not take those babies for granted.
I paid attention!
Which is my other point:
2. Pay attention to what’s good.
Humans are pretty prone to paying attention to the things that are going wrong.
That’s useful to some extent, since we often need to address/fix the things that are going wrong!
But sometimes this means we don’t pay attention to the things that are going right.
I am just as guilty of this as the next person, but I feel better when I make a point of noticing the things that are good, or even just the things that are not going wrong.
Some things that are not going wrong examples:
- none of my appliances are broken right now
- I can breathe (no cold at the moment!)
- I can exercise (my body is still young enough to move easily)
- No one has been to the ER recently
- My car is working great (no breakdowns or flat tires)
And some “pay attention to what’s good” examples:
- The sun came out
- This coffee is delicious
- Zoe and Sonia want hugs, even though they are teenagers (!)
- Lisey gave me a compliment
- My pastor preaches encouraging sermons
- Our church has great opportunities for serving in the local community