Cindy and I are fans the television series NCIS. We’ve taken note of what are called “Gibbs’ Rules,” laid down by the show’s lead character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, for being an agent and dealing with life. (See http://www.gibbsrules.com.) Among Gibbs’ Rules, my favorite is Number 8: “Don’t take anything for granted!”
Number 8 came to mind when I returned recently from business travel to South America. It was then I noticed how wonderful our interstate highway system is! And it’s the same system I previously had whined about being too crowded and in need of repair. Instead, I now see it as not very crowded, in great shape, with drivers who, for the most part, follow the rules!
I had become too familiar with something—too accustomed to its being there. I had begun to take it for granted.
As the English writer Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
Clearly, we don’t want to take our kids for granted because when we do, we are not:
- giving them our full attention
- remembering to engage them in thoughtful conversation
- letting them know what we appreciate about them
- interacting with them in a wonderful way
For you and me, the beauty of noticing we are taking someone or something for granted is—in that moment—we no longer are! Then we can begin to interact with that person or circumstance in a way that’s consistent with how we want to be in the world. We can treat each person, each conversation, and each moment as though they matter.
Once you’re keyed into noticing, you’ll be able to catch yourself more often, and eventually you’ll be interacting with your kids and with everyday life in a more effective way.