The student news site of Lake Stevens High School

Valhalla

The student news site of Lake Stevens High School

Valhalla

The student news site of Lake Stevens High School

Valhalla

Be grateful for what you have

A reflection that makes people prosper in life
Junior+Abigayle+Cozad+embraces+her+cat%2C+Luna%2C+who+brings+her+a+source+of+happiness+in+her+life.
Shannon Epler
Junior Abigayle Cozad embraces her cat, Luna, who brings her a source of happiness in her life.

You’ve all heard it before. Don’t take things for granted, they’ll be gone before you know it, etc. At the age of 16, I don’t know much about the world and how it works, but if there is one thing I know, it’s that this is very much true and that there are ways to help combat it. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve sleep, mood, and immunity and can decrease depression and anxiety.
Some context about my life is needed. I grew up in Bellingham, Washington, about an hour north of Lake Stevens. I was born to two high school dropout addicts who were not anywhere near being close to being ready for children. Because of this, I was the victim of child abuse and neglect. I entered the foster care system when I was about three years old. In December 2016 at the age of eight, I was adopted by a distant relative. She became my true mother.
In November 2021, my adoptive mother was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer, stage 4. My mother had the diseased kidney removed, but the cancer came back and had spread. She began treatments, including chemotherapy. For the majority of the next two years, life was almost perfectly normal. Aside from her losing weight and having less energy than normal, she was perfectly fine. She worked normally and made the most delicious food (she was the best, argue with a wall). We went on our annual family camping trips in Eastern Washington in the summer. No one would have been able to tell she had cancer from looking at her.
In early November 2023, her health declined drastically, and she was placed on an oxygen tank. She lost ⅓ of her body weight and had next to no energy to complete daily tasks. Her health continued to decline until she was placed in a hospice home on Nov. 29. I visited her that night, and she was a shell of her former self; she could barely stay awake or drink water. I went home not knowing what to think or feel – completely numb. On the early morning of Nov. 30, my mother passed away at the age of 57.
Just like that, I lost who I hadn’t realized was the most important piece of my life. With her passing, I no longer had the assurance of an amazing dinner or someone to answer the silly, random questions that would spurt into my mind. I had no one to watch me progress in life or to celebrate my feats with. I had taken my own mother for granted.
While this is an extreme example, I know I’m not the only one with regrets of taking something for granted. Junior Matthew Murray discussed his regrets of not being grateful for something he experienced.
“The most memorable thing I’ve taken for granted happened three years ago, when my little sister was born,” Murray stated, “It changed my daily life.”
A newborn sibling was a learning curve for Murray, and it taught him a valuable lesson in life.
“As she grew up, I learned how to take care of a baby sibling,” Murray said.
While it is great that people can recognize when they have/are taking something for granted, not everyone knows how to change that. Here are a few strategies to help you become grateful.
“I make sure I’m not taking something for granted by taking care of that thing/person. I always try to remind myself that I’m very privileged to have the life I have. Some don’t have as much privilege. Staying grateful for the things in my life has affected me in good ways because I don’t take things for granted. It’s caused me to keep a positive mindset throughout my life and always be mindful of the things I have that others might not have. I also think that it pushed me to be kind to others around me and not judge other people,” junior Abigayle Cozad explained.
Murray had similar advice on how to stay grateful.
“[Don’t] avoid new things or people. Don’t be afraid to get involved and make something you’re grateful for,” Murray advised.
The moral of the story is: you have to take initiative to keep yourself from taking something in your life for granted. It’s bound to happen to all of us at least once in our lives because we’re human. There is no way to prevent it from happening, but there’s a way to recognize you’re taking it for granted and then take steps to fix it.
Take time to reflect on yourself and your life to see what you may not be as grateful for as you should be, and change that.

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