I’m so aware that things can change in the blink of an eye. A freak accident could take a loved one from you forever. A close friend could be diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow. Your partner could decide to leave you next week. The possibilities are endless.
As I get older, these “possibilities” seem to become realities more and more. The naive innocence of thinking I was invulnerable has gradually been replaced with the grim realization that I’m really not invulnerable…and nor are my loved ones. Many people have learned this lesson at far too young an age through tragic experience. My heart goes out to them.
The gift in this realization, I realize, is I get to not take advantage of life. I can learn to let go of the little things my husband, children or friends do and instead appreciate the “big” things they do. I can be thankful for their smile, kind words and simple accepting presence. I can even appreciate my son and daughter’s staunch arguments (from afar of course) knowing they are learning to fight for themselves. I can take a moment to appreciate my mother’s perfectionism and see it as her way of letting me know she cares enough to critique.
When I slow down to remember what I could lose, it helps to remind me of what I have. Losing someone close to me would be heart breaking, however, I wonder how many of those close to me actually know this? How many of your loved ones would know how difficult life would be without them? Too often we get so caught up in analyzing and complaining about what we don’t have that we forget to see what we do have.
Although there is a time to tweak, analyze and try to fix what’s not working, there is also a time to simply be thankful for what is. When it comes to relationships, appreciation is a vital ingredient to keeping them nurtured and vibrant. Sometimes we forget to do the nurturing. As I think of all the people who have lost loved ones along the way, I’m reminded of the importance of cherishing those who still remain with us.
Take the time to appreciate. Don’t just appreciate in your head, but do so out loud, in a note and in your actions. Tell your loved ones you love them. Say thank-you when they are kind. Let them know what a difference they have made in your life. Do this today while you have the chance. You never know who will or will not be around tomorrow.
Challenge: Make the time to appreciate those in your life. Tell them, show them and act as though you are thankful for their presence. Showing appreciation does not mean everything is fine—it simply means that even with the struggles, you appreciate them.