We usually follow how people have different baselines of health, with some being more or less appreciative of whatever condition they are in. Yet, aeons have men lamented the joy of comfort, which I sometimes think is ephemeral. The feeling is manifested in all circumstances that health is not valued until illness comes.
In other words, many of us are very bad at evaluating good health when we are lucky enough to have it. However, anyone who experiences this superlative gratitude is unlikely to hold onto it for long. Are you not with me that by that morning after the symptoms had subsided, you were busy with e-mails and working again, unaware that only twenty-four or forty-eight hours earlier you could barely sit up straight in bed, let alone your desk or workplace? Doesn’t that bother you? Are you so incapable of appreciating health and is there really anything you can do to change? However, you will certainly notice some people going through severe illness or injury experiences that completely change their outlook on life.
In fact, there are real costs to taking health for granted. First, it can make you less healthy, if you don’t take care of yourself as a result. On the other hand, maintaining a certain level of appreciation is a good way, especially since throughout the pandemic Covid-19, for example, there has been this language about how the (the only) people who die are the elderly or the people who are suffering. From pre-existing health conditions, as if we sow accept it or as if these deaths were more acceptable!
What I really want here from everyone is to stick with gratitude. It is clearly linked to improved life satisfaction, increased sense of happiness and a greater ability to form and maintain relationships, of course, among other benefits. It seems to me that learning to appreciate the daily blessings is really like being healthy or eating your favourite food. So is the ability to tap into a renewed source of contentment, especially since it’s always easy to find stress in life!
In this sense, one way to make the most of gratitude is to reframe the way people tend to think. Not to mention that there is an incomplete and definite belief in the true meaning of gratitude, which is that gratitude is a positive emotion that results from something good that happens to us. But I find it really an emotion, but also an act and an unlimited thanks that we can also learn, by developing habits that contribute to more continuous awareness, rather than a conditioned response to ever-changing circumstances. So how does that seem practical?!.... I don’t know that we can, but with every breath, we have in every moment, be grateful that we are breathing.
So, as you think about the meaning of gratitude you will also find it, closer to the historical concept of gratitude, which was associated with ideas such as duty and reciprocity — when someone does something nice for us, we are expected to return the favour. In this sense, being grateful for your body may mean doing your best to take care of it (and perhaps refraining from risky behaviours).
Hence, as we’ve seen in the past two years, how Covid-19 shows that anyone can get sick, possibly seriously ill. Now, the end of the pandemic looms, it is tempting to imagine that humanity is about to wake up in the morning after a catastrophic illness.
In the end, perhaps the simple act of remembering the health we still have in the wake of the pandemic can make a small difference in how we proceed, even if not as a community, then at least as individuals. And surely right now, every day you still get a golden opportunity to try and stay healthy...so take it!
Dr Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and writer.