“It’s not a bad idea to occasionally spend a little time thinking about things you take for granted. Plain everyday things.” ~Evan Davis
Some mornings I open my eyes and immediately start thinking about everything I have to do.
I don’t notice the sun shining through my blinds.
I don’t imagine all the things that could go right in my day, as Srinivas Rao suggested in his awesome post How to Wake up Every Morning on Top of the World.
Instead, I immediately home in on my to-do list and all the mini fires I plan to avoid.
On those days when my mind goes into defensive pessimism mode—conjuring up everything that could go wrong and creating plans to circumvent those things—it feels imperative to go on that way. Like the stressing and plotting somehow gives me more control over the day ahead.
The irony is that while this type of thinking does nothing to avoid chaos and struggle, which are both inevitable, at least on some level, it actually creates the type of situations I’d prefer to dodge.
A busy, cynical mind is more apt to find problems than solutions.
Since I’ve been meditating in the morning again, I’ve been starting the day on a much more positive note. But I am by no means perfect, and some days I still expect the worst instead of creating the best.
So I’ve started focusing on all the little things that usually go right instead of the big things that could go wrong.
The reality is things could go wrong later, even if I start the day whistling over breakfast while birds and bunnies hover around my patio bistro set. Being positive isn’t a safeguard against the unknown.
It is, however, one of the best ways to fully enjoy the moment and create the next one from a place of peace and empowerment.
With that in mind, I’ve created this list of things that we often take for granted (some or all of which may be true for you). When you start thinking about everything you can’t control, it’s helpful to remember and appreciate all the little things that work in your favor most days.
The little things that usually go right:
1. You woke up breathing. No matter what happens in the hours ahead, you can come back to your breath for a sense of peace and presence.
2. You have the freedom to choose what you’ll do today, even if you have some limitations. Sometimes we take it for granted, but what we do on a daily basis truly is our choice.
3. You have a bed to sleep in. Even if you didn’t get as much sleep as you’d like to, you had the opportunity to rest somewhere relatively peaceful.
4. There isn’t a hurricane, tornado, typhoon, or other natural disaster going on outside your door.
5. You have the means to eat three meals today, even if one of them is Top Ramen (or spam and rice, as my boyfriend made on our first night in our new place).
6. Your roof isn’t leaking copious amounts of water directly on your head.
7. You have the capacity to feel, even if your emotions can be overwhelming sometimes—so much better than living life as a sociopath, for you and everyone around you!
8. Your shower works—with hot water—meaning you don’t have to go to work with bed-head or skin that smells like night sweat.
9. If you don’t have work to go to, you have endless possibilities for your future. Right now might be a little uncomfortable, but your future is completely open, ready to be seized and enjoyed.
10. The sun is shining, giving you all those feel-good brain chemicals. (The sun actually increases serotonin production—it’s a natural mood lifter!)
11. You don’t have Wicked Witch of the West syndrome, meaning that if it’s raining, you likely won’t melt.
12. Your closet didn’t catch fire overnight, meaning you don’t have to go to work naked or fashion an outfit out of hefty bags.
13. You have at least some of your senses, so you can enjoy your favorites smells, sounds, and/or sights.
14. You have access to entertainment, whether that means your favorite tunes, shows, or books.
15. If you drive, your favorite morning radio show is on and it’s so funny you almost don’t care about the gridlock traffic.
16. As for that gridlock traffic, the fact that you’re in it means you have a working car.
17. Your computer works, meaning you won’t need IT guys to come help you, disrupting your usual flow.
18. You have a cell phone, even if it isn’t an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. (Mine is none of the above.) Even a bulky, old-school cell phone that can’t connect to the Internet can make life world’s easier.
19. You have an office or workspace, even if it’s shared, meaning you can get things done relatively efficiently allowing for free time later this evening.
20. If you’re like me and don’t have an office or workspace, you have the freedom to work wherever you want. Go work under a tree for a while—you can!
21. You received some type of email that lets you know someone cares about you, even if it’s one of those chain emails your grandmother sends to the special people in her life.
22. If you didn’t get one of those emails, you have the capacity to send one (mass-emailed or personalized) to make a meaningful difference in someone else’s day.
23. You got a call or voicemail from someone you miss, giving you the opportunity for connection and even a little shared nostalgia.
24. If you didn’t get that call, you have access to a phone, meaning you can make one. Any day you connect meaningfully with someone else has the potential to be a great day.
25. Someone somewhere loves you, so no matter what happens in the day ahead, you’ll get through it with the support of people who care.
There’s a lot that goes right on a daily basis. I’m choosing to start the day embracing the good in the present instead of trying to predict and control the bad in the future.
Have anything to add to the list?