The Importance of Not Taking Things for Granted
- 30 November 2008 by Author 0 Comments
The Importance of Not Taking Things for Granted
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 11/30/2008
Those things we take most for granted are often the things for which we should be most grateful. Especially in this privileged country where the blessings enjoyed by all have come through the sacrifice of others, and the blessings enjoyed by many come because of the absence of limitations prevalent in other countries.
Our freedoms are often taken for granted, and consequently, we assume they will always be there. But as we observe the trends granting increasing power over our lives to governmental authority, we can only pray and hope that the day will not come when we look back longingly at the freedoms once enjoyed here.
Those who wear and have worn the nation’s military uniforms are often taken for granted. But it is imperative that we acknowledge that at this time of no conscription that they wear the uniform and shoulder the attendant responsibilities of their own volition. We are not just free because of the wars and conflicts they fight or have fought, but also by their very presence and vigilance they ward off other threats to our liberty and our very existence. We are direct beneficiaries of their service. We can only surmise how differently we may have emerged from the cold war had we not maintained such a powerful global military presence.
As the nation struggles through the current financial difficulties, we realize how generally good the economy has been for the past eight years. Something we have again taken for granted. The media have painted a different picture during that time of how bad the economy was. Every report from employment to GDP growth rate was scrutinized to the point where, regardless of the positive elements, it was somehow twisted to where miniscule pejoratives eclipsed the positives. It could be that there was an agenda behind such uniformly negative reporting, or perhaps it’s just that bad news sells better than good. But then again, maybe we’re just too gullible as a people and swallow the headlines rather than reading, digesting, and thinking through the details on our own.
Sometimes what we take most for granted are people whom we love and assume will always be there for us. Then when they are not, our hearts yearn for their return, whether they departed of their own volition or because of the frailty of mortality. Even eighteen years after my mother’s passing from breast cancer and five years after my father died there is still not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them, long for their insights, wisdom, and their nurturing encouragement.
These are but a few examples of what we sometimes take for granted, but perhaps the best thing for each of us to ponder what applies most. What blessings, privileges, and relationships do you most treasure and would be most bereft of if they were no longer in your life? Tell those who most profoundly touch your life how you feel, and then have the wisdom to bask in the warmth of those relationships as often and as much as possible. For those blessings, both tangible and abstract that are not relationship based, do as the early Pilgrims did. According to William Bradford, “he did fall down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing.” Ultimately, since all blessings are bestowed by God, we express our deepest gratitude to him for our country, our state, our families, and the blessings that are ours to enjoy.
Chuck Swindoll made a statement years ago that has profoundly shaped my attitude about life, and about gratitude itself. He said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
The realization that we have control over our attitude will not only significantly enrich the quality of our lives, but it will lead us to what Eniko Jordan last week called the “attitude of gratitude” which we celebrate this week. That same attitude precludes the possibility of taking things for granted and causes us to acknowledge our dependence upon each other and upon God for the blessings that are ours.
Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.