As 2019 draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on the year; the ups and downs, highs and lows. While it would be quite easy to get caught up in regrets about missed opportunities, or situations which could have been handled better, I do have an overall feeling of gratitude for the year that has been.
I have been blessed with so many opportunities, many which I never would have imagined at the start of the year, and an amazing group of family and friends to share them with. In the last chapter of his Autobiography, G. K. Chesterton said that the “chief idea” of his life was “the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted.” This is a sentiment I definitely want to embrace, but experience proves that it’s much harder than it sounds.
There have been so many times when I’ve found myself wishing I was somewhere else, or doing something other than what I was doing in that present moment, because of some actually quite trivial annoyance. On a hot day in the middle of summer, I’ll long for cold nights and warm campfires, and on a rainy day in the middle of winter, I’ll wish the sun was out. In one way or another, even at the best of times, I can never seem to be completely satisfied with the world in which I find myself; there’s always something to complain about. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, and I think that the significant technological advances that have taken place in smartphones, the way they affect the way we interact with the world has a big part to play. For example, if we find ourselves in an uncomfortable social situation, lost for words or feeling bored, how often do we pull out our phones and reduce our experience of the world to the small screen in front of us? We might feel like we’re making meaningful connections with our friends in another place, but we’re missing what is right in front of us, in that unique, unrepeatable moment. We’re almost always able to access a view of the world which is different, and potentially better than what we are experiencing right now, and this makes it harder to be grateful for where we are and what we’re doing in the here and now.
This past decade has seen significant changes across all areas of life; the world stage of politics is a very different place to what it was ten years ago, as is the way we interact with our fellow human beings. And while living conditions are probably the best they have ever been for the majority of humanity, there seems to be an increasing attitude of complaining. This is particularly noticeable in the realm of social media, where people seem to complain about anything and everything. Could this be the result of having nothing else to complain about? We have become so used to having everything we want, almost instantaneously, that we are losing the virtue of patience. We have so much to be grateful for, but unfortunately, we seem to take most of it for granted.
As we stand on the verge of a new decade, one of my resolutions going into the 2020s is to try my best to take things with gratitude, and not for granted. There are always going to be bad things going on in the world, and we are never going to escape completely from suffering and heartbreak, but gratitude for all the good things we do have will always make the world that little bit brighter.
I invite you to join me in this resolution. Let’s welcome in 2020 with gratitude. Gratitude for another year of opportunities, gratitude for all our family and friends, gratitude for blazing sunsets and starry skies, gratitude for the breath in our lungs, and the beat of our hearts.
I want to finish by saying I’m so grateful for you! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it! Cheers to a happy, joyful, and grateful new year!