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Appreciation; See the Good Not the Bad

Appreciation; See the Good Not the Bad

“You have to appreciate what you do have” – I would be lying if I said that 3 years ago hearing that sentence over and over again did not make me angry.

But that is now something I have been working on for years; the ability to not take things for granted. This started when I was in a physical rehabilitation hospital for 6 weeks hardly able to move, speak, eat, etc. My body was literally shutting down. They say “you don’t know what you have till you lose it” and unfortunately this is true. I lost a lot and now that I have most of it back I appreciate it more. But over time you start taking those same things for granted. It’s hard not to because it eventually becomes hard to remember how it feels to live without those things.

Every so often my health starts “falling apart”, my financial situation takes a dump, or the relationships I have in my life become weak. This leads to depression where I may find myself thinking things like “why does my life suck so bad?” but I have learned that is the depression speaking. Depression is the first to forget the good you have in life. I have been feeling this way the last two months but I am remembering how lucky I am. I do have people in my life, I can think and communicate my thoughts, drive, speak, take a shower on my own, cook, feel the computer keys against my fingertips, breathe unassisted, walk unassisted, see the world around me, afford the medications that keep the machine known as my body running, taste my food, swallow my food, and I have a roof over my head.

Before I moved back from Colorado I always saw a homeless man on the corner on my way to the store. After it really started snowing and there was an average hi of 30 degrees Fahrenheit each day with occasional wind chills of -17 degrees, I was driving to the store and complaining to myself that my hands were so cold and my car’s heater was just not cutting it. Then, in the middle of this thought, I looked out the window to see that homeless man standing in the snow with a sign asking for food. I felt so bad about myself; I still do. To complain about something so small when clearly there are people around me with a much worse situation. I still wish I was not pinching pennies at the time so I could have bought him a nice hot meal, a coffee, hand warmers, a better jacket, so much things I needed but he needed more. Because even though my life felt like it was falling apart and I thought my struggle was so bad I had a truck to get me around in the snow, I had a kitchen to cook hot food in, and I had a home to keep me warm and shielded from the weather. How could I complain that “a cylinder died in my truck, why me, why me”. No matter how bad we think we have it there is always someone else who would kill to take our place. I try to remind myself of that simple truth whenever I start playing the self-pity game.

I am not trying to say we don’t have it bad, because we do, but you can’t always compare illnesses or situations; that would be like comparing a number to a color. If you told someone you had Multiple Sclerosis and they said “at least you don’t have cancer” would that not irritate you? Sure cancer sucks but so does MS in it’s own “special” way. What I am trying to say is that we need to look at ourselves, our lives, and not just see the negative but try to find the positives because if you even have the ability to read this then you obviously have something that someone else in the world does not. Even if you need someone to read it to you well, you still have something, someone, that someone else in the world does not. “Pain” is relevant to the individual and some may be able to handle the symptoms or loneliness associated with the disease but others may not. We cannot compare. We can only try to understand that whatever you do have in life, someone else does not, and maybe once you really think about it you will realize what ever it is that you do have? It would suck to live without it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Katroc
    4 years ago

    Matt, thanks for posting this. There are two things in my life prior to my MS diagnosis that changed my thinking on gratitude. I visited Haiti in the early 80s and now I love water more than anything. Then in 2007 I had my special needs daughter. It was then that I realized what is important in life. Not things, people and relationships. Your post made me think of a Kahlil Gibran quote that I have never forgotten.
    “Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”
    Keep up the great writing!

  • skcullers
    4 years ago

    Thank you — a much needed reminder. Got up this morning to cat barf and cleaning it up was going down the rabbit hole with thoughts of why me when it is so hard to stand on one leg using the other to grind the paper towels in the spot remover mess. Lucky I can stand on one leg even though it isn’t easy. The hardest part is after dealing with this for 25 years is always that wish to get a semblance of a normal life back. Your post made me realize I need to focus on what I can do and have , not the losses. Much gratitude!

  • Michraf
    4 years ago

    Thank you. This is an awesome article with a great reminder. Whenever I fall into a “why me” state or “my life completely s*cks” I am always reminded (by my husband) things could be worse. While I resent having this disease I try to appreciate what I can do. It could be gone at any time.

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