15 Things We Should All Be Thankful For But Take For Granted

Image via Unsplash/Julia Revitt

When was the last time you listed the things you’re thankful for without turning off your brain and staring into space with glazed eyes, unsure of what you’re even saying? No matter how corny it sounds, though, most people have a lot to be grateful for. Here are a few reminders of the simple things that we don’t always think about every day — but probably should.

1. Health

Everyone says it, but that doesn’t make it any less true: Health is something you never think about until it’s compromised. If you’re lucky enough to be healthy, take a second to appreciate the things you never think about, like how you can walk around and lift things and breathe without ever having to worry about it.

2. Home

It costs you money (rent, mortgage, heat, electricity, repairs, etc.) and it’s probably smaller and less sleek than you want it to be, but at least you have it. It gives you a place of safety and security, and you’re free to express your personality and make it yours rather than living in some nightmarish, Orwellian apartment block where the only decorations are posters of Big Brother, who is always watching.

3. Food

This one speaks for itself. Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined; according to the World Food Programme, one in every nine people in the world does not have enough food to lead a healthy and active life.

4. Smartphones

Maybe it seems like you mostly use your phone to text, play games and check your email constantly, but it can do so much more than that. It can give you directions while you’re driving, help you navigate a strange city on foot, allow you to deposit paychecks instantly, alert you to credit and identity scams, remind you when your grandma’s birthday is, keep you updated on news from around the world and make sure you’re in constant contact with your friends and loved ones. Sometimes it’s annoying to be so connected, but most of the time it’s a gift to have technology this advanced right at our fingertips.

5. Education

In many countries, education is a difficult thing to come by; in some, it’s nearly unattainable. Anyone who grew up in the U.S., however, had access to a free public school education during their entire childhood. As of 2012, 30.4 percent of Americans over the age of 25 had at least a bachelor’s degree, while 10.9 percent had a graduate degree.

6. The Internet

It surrounds us, penetrates us and binds us. It is the source of celebrity gossip, cool new recipes and ways to make charitable donations; it helps us go new places, find new apartments and track down old friends. Sometimes it’s terrible, but our lives would be a lot smaller without it.

7. Parents

Even though you spent years rolling your eyes at and being constantly embarrassed by them, they did a lot for you, whether it was paying for your education, putting food on the table or just the act of forcing you into this world.

8. Your Job

Yes, it’s boring and unfulfilling, and maybe your boss is demanding, and maybe sometimes you have fantasies of running away and becoming an Arctic explorer or an elephant trainer — but if you’re paying the bills and putting money in the bank, you’re still doing all right. In this economy, you could be doing a lot worse than making ends meet.

9. Time Spent Not Working

It may not seem like a lot of time, but at least you have it.

10. No Zombies

Celebrate the fact that the world has not yet reached a state of “Walking Dead”-style zombie apocalypse! In fact, it’s been almost 15 years since the turn of the century and there haven’t been any apocalypses so far.

11. Water

The simple act of turning on a faucet and having clean, drinkable water come out is something many people in developing countries can’t do. In Africa alone, 345 million people lack access to water.

12. Clean Air

The ability to breathe clean air without worrying about cancer, bronchitis or some other respiratory disease is something no one should take for granted. Clean air and clear skies also give us the chance to appreciate things like sunrises, sunsets, stars, full moons and meteor showers.

13. Animals

Your dog or cat loves you — they really do. In return for nothing more than food, shelter and attention, they have formed a lasting bond with you and will essentially love you unconditionally forever. It’s heartwarming, and you’re allowed to be as sentimental about it as you want. Be thankful for that drooly, furry poop machine!

14. Gadgets And Machinery

You don’t have to spend hours hunched over pieces of fabric sewing your own clothes, because machines make them for you. You don’t have to spend hours canning fruit or smoking meat or making your own cheese every summer, because you can go to the grocery store and buy food, and you don’t have to walk to that store — you can drive a car at high speeds and enjoy a smooth, comfortable ride. If 5 feet of snow fall in one day this winter, snow plows and snow blowers will dig you out. If they don’t, your TV will still entertain you. It’s pretty awesome.

15. Humans Haven’t Destroyed The World Yet, And Might Even Make It Better Someday

There hasn’t been a nuclear war so far. Maybe the glaciers are melting, but during the first nine months of 2014, more than 40 percent of all new U.S. power came from renewable energy sources. We could soon be printing organs for transplant on 3D printers. Even if the steps we’re making are small, they’re still steps toward a better world.