Have you ever experienced losing an important file?
Some digital document that you’ve been working on for hours—a report or paper or excel spreadsheet—and suddenly your computer crashes or you accidentally hit a button and it is gone. Wiped out. All that hard work and time and effort, flushed down the drain.
It’s the worst.
That sinking feeling of knowing you are going to have to start all over.
I’m pretty sure it has probably happened to all of us at some point, but that sure doesn’t make it any easier.
I had one of those moments not too long ago. I needed to prepare for a presentation I would be giving the following week, one I hadn’t been too worried about, or spent much time preparing for, because it was going to be almost the exact same presentation I had given a few months prior. All the work-hours and hours of it—had already been done. All I would need to do was edit a few slides and I’d be good to go.
But when I went to pull up the file on my computer, it was gone.
Nowhere to be found.
I tried everything I could think of—searching by document type, checking the archive files, searching by every possible name. I even downloaded a document recovery program to search for deleted files on the unlikely chance I had accidentally moved the file to the trash.
And of course that’s when I started to freak out. This presentation had taken me at least four weeks to create. It was almost 200 slides. It was hours and hours and hours of work, just gone. By the time my husband found me, I was on the verge of tears. Or screaming. Or both.
Luckily for me he is always good in a crisis. He assured me that it had to be there somewhere, and that computers never actually delete anything.
His confidence renewed my hope, which had been all but lost, and after wracking my brain some more, I finally remembered that I had copied the missing file to create a different presentation, one that I knew was still there. All I had to do was restore that copied file to the original version, and I was good to go.
Crisis averted, problem solved.
And what did I do?
There was no celebration, no happy dance—I barely even cracked a smile. I just jumped right back into the task list I had been trying to complete before the crisis arose.
This response—or lack thereof—was not lost on my husband. He gently pointed out that only moments before, I had been in the throes of deep despair, but now that this huge problem had been solved, I didn’t seem any happier.
“Honey, your joy at solving your problem needs to at least match the despair you felt at not solving it,” he gently reminded me, “otherwise, what’s the point?”
In my haste to move on to the next thing on my list, I had completely forgotten about the importance of gratitude. Instead of taking the time to really appreciate and celebrate the little miracle that had just happened, I was already taking it for granted.
And I know that is not the kind of person I want to be, nor the way I want to live my life.
Marcus Tullius Cicero once stated, “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Along those same lines, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
In other words, our level of gratitude in every circumstance will also determine our level of joy.
And so my question for you–and myself–is this: when was the last time you stopped to do a gratitude check? Are you remembering to take the time to appreciate the little things, or are you so busy rushing through life that you’ve forgotten how much there is to be grateful for, and how important it is to celebrate the things that go right.
Chances are, there is more to be thankful for than you realize.
And taking time to celebrate those wins, those everyday victories, might just make all the difference in the world.