50 Everyday-But-Overlooked Things to Appreciate

Photo by Krikit/ Flickr

Imagine Thomas Jefferson, or even Natalie Wood, coming back to life today and seeing all that we have. They’d be stunned by the abundance and ease with which some of us live our lives (and that’s true even in this trying economy). Yet we barely notice the “wow” factor, taking our amazing world for granted–or worse, filling our brains with thoughts of what’s gone wrong.

I’m a big believer in the physical, emotional and spiritual power of appreciation. For one thing, it just plain feels better to think good thoughts than bad or neutral ones. (I’m convinced that feeling good is an important way to stay connected to our higher essence.) For another, I know that focusing on what’s working in your life brings more of it to you. Whether you think, as I do, that it’s by the law of attraction, or simply that identifying what you enjoy motivates you to go after more of it, there’s a greatness behind gratitude. “Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good,” Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, echoing this notion that all gray matter is best spent pondering the positive.

Don’t think you have much to appreciate as the new year gets underway? Here’s my back-of-the-envelope list of fabulous things to applaud. No doubt once you give it some thought you can easily add 50 — or 500 — more.

Our Bodies/Health:

  • We breathe,
  • circulate our blood,
  • remove waste and
  • grow new cells all day every day without trying.
  • Legs take us everywhere we want to go.
  • Fingers write, chop, type, fold, feed and do a million other things we ask, without fail.
  • Should something burst or shrivel inside us, doctors open us up and fix it.
  • Stick tiny pieces of plastic in your eyes and suddenly you see brilliantly.
  • Or, have laser surgery and skip the plastic altogether.
  • Our life expectancy is so far beyond what people could have imagined even 100 years ago.
  • Our physiology includes the ability to have delicious, mind-blowing sex.
  • Sex that no longer inevitably leads to pregnancy if we don’t want it to.

Crazy Technology:

  • Five seconds after pushing a button, a classic book or a new bestseller appears on a screen in our hands.
  • Brain-fog on the name of an actor, astronaut or anarchist? Pull a device from a pocket, tap a few keys — and, voila! (Thereby saving many a dinnertime argument.)
  • “Mail” something to the other side of the world and the person reads and responds in seconds.
  • See what’s happening inside a eagle’s nest or at a local city commission meeting while sitting in PJs at home.
  • When we’re short on cash, money flies out of the wall of the bank — even at 2 a.m.
  • Or go for weeks without any cash, instead tossing around a little piece of plastic.
  • Drive in the wrong direction and a gizmo in your car (or on your phone) yells to spin you around, miles before you might have noticed.
  • Cameras on satellites in space let us see pictures of foreign galaxies, or our own streets.

Abundant Food:

  • We have flour without growing/milling our own wheat,
  • sugar without physically chopping down the cane,
  • and veggies without tending and weeding all day.
  • Not to mention water for drinking piped right into our homes.
  • Beautiful, various foods are available at huge supermarkets (Is anything more gorgeous than a market produce section?) — a far cry from the tiny corner store my grandparents owned.
  • A kitchen gizmo keeps food frozen or cold.
  • Another heats a meal without our having to gather wood and start a fire. (You probably used them today without realizing how awesome they are.)
  • We can eat when we don’t feel like cooking — something our ancestors could not do.
  • And select from Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Asian fusion, American…
  • Someone figured out how to turn a few ingredients into a molten chocolate soufflé — then top it with ice cream!

Basic Living:

  • Our homes stand strong, regardless of the wind, snow, or sleet bearing down.
  • What we call a starter house would not long ago have been termed a mansion.
  • Water runs into our bathtubs and showers, enabling us to be the cleanest people ever on this planet.
  • We sleep in comfy beds, covered with clean sheets, cozy blankets and soft pillows.
  • When it’s freezing out, we stay toasty inside.
  • Scorching out? AC keeps us cool.
  • We needn’t get wet in the rain, thanks to a roof — or those portable roofs we call umbrellas.
  • Our big daily dilemma is deciding from our vast selection of clothing what to put on, not that we have literally nothing to wear.
  • Shoes not only protect our feet and help keep them moving — they’re gorgeous to boot.

People and Pleasantries:

  • If you’re in a relationship, you have a partner with many gifts (even if you sometimes overlook them); if not, you know there’s someone out there waiting for you.
  • You have fabulous friends whom you can always rely on.
  • With a (mostly) safe society, we move about with ease.
  • Thanks to traffic rules (and people who obey them), we glide through each intersection. (Ever been to India?)
  • Your neighbors are wonderful. (If you don’t know them, make it a priority to get closer this year.)

Old Technology That Should Still Astound Us:

  • Television sets, where (at least occasionally) interesting entertainment is at the click of a button.
  • Cars get us farther in an hour than we used to get in days.
  • Planes fly up in the sky!
  • Books transport us to another world or enlighten us that that world exists in the first place.
  • Yes, we can now email and Skype. But the ability to pick up the phone wherever you are and hear the voice of someone on the other side of the world is still incredible.
  • Flush toilets. If you haven’t appreciated yours lately, it’s time to ponder the alternative.

29 Simple Pleasures
10 Ways to Maximize Your Joy
Practice True Gratitude

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Fi T.
Fi T.9 months ago

Treasure what we have

Monica Buchanan
Monica Buchanan10 months ago


Ben Oscarsito
Ben Oscarsito10 months ago

Well, I appreciate that I have a home, food to eat, clean drinking water, that I'm pretty healthy, my friends...in fact I don't take anything for granted...thanks!

Carole R.
Carole R.10 months ago

So true

Jennifer E.
Jennifer E.3 years ago

We are certainly surrounded by incredibly convenient things! Our ancestors had a lot more physical input for most of what we do today with minimal input. The other area I am daily thankful for, is the beauty that surrounds us. Sunsets and sunrises; flowers and those mobile flowers, butterflies; birds, insects, creatures which are so amazing when watched! If you are feeling blue, go and watch an ant trail for a while, or a wasp building a nest - I never fail to be fascinatd by how industrious creatures are! So much to learn from the natural world! And mostly, they are just finding things to eat and somewhere to be safe at night! Both simple and complicated at the same time! And VERY well worth beind thankful for!

Gary C.
Gary C.3 years ago


Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

most are true, some aren't, some with be our downfall

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

Thanks for the article. It made me stop and appreciate a lot of things.

Nicole Gorman
Nicole Gorman3 years ago

It's always helpful to have someone open our eyes to what's around us.

Giovanna M.
Giovanna M.3 years ago

I'm not sure why Nathalie Wood should be stunned by most of the things in these lists. Maybe because she's dead? If that's the logic of it, then I can assure you I'd be twice as stunned if she did get back from the dead herself.

As for Thomas Jefferson, he'd probably be stunned by the ammount of noise, pollution, probably by our devastating new weapons and ways of killing, for the lack of honor in current welfare, for how tobacco is regarded nowadays, etc...

One can be stunned for many reasons, both good and bad. As for sex, I'm pretty sure both Jefferson and Wood had the physiological equipment to enjoy good sex too; and although maybe less effective than nowadays (although this could be discussed if one goes back to some stories about the recent increase of teenage pregnancies posted here), in most eras and culture there have been ways to have sex and avoid pregnancies. The point is, up until now getting pregnant was not the nuisance it is now, but primitive pork-gut condoms have been in use for ages, so have been abortive infusions.

I'm happy the author is so grateful and happy, I admit I'm sort of blue today, but I do believe 3/4 of the listed things would not particularly stun anyone who is not in a "grateful" or new wave mood.