It Helps to Feel Grateful for the BasicsThe other week, I was struggling with a very unstable computer (yes, this is apparently a technical term).

It seems to be behaving itself now, and I am so happy! I take my word-processer, my email, and my internet access for granted, but when they aren’t available as easily as usual, I realize how much these tools add to my happiness and how much they contribute to my ability to work easily and smoothly.

One of the unhappy truths about human nature is that it’s hard for us to appreciate what we have, until we lose it. When we lose something like electricity or running water, or worse, our health, then it’s clear how mightily such things contribute to happiness and comfort.

In college, a friend told me about the “Lost Wallet Syndrome.” “No matter what’s happening in your life,” he explained, “if you lose your wallet, you think, ‘How happy I would be if I would only find my wallet.’ But then, if you find it, you’re happy for about two minutes, and then you’re right back where you started.”

One of my aims with my happiness project is to appreciate what I have, while I still have it. I don’t want to look back, after some loss or some catastrophe, and think, “How happy I was then, if only I’d realized it.”

I have so much to be grateful for that it seems a bit preposterous that I need to remind myself to be grateful—but I do. When things are taking their ordinary course, it’s so easy to take everyday life for granted.

Every time I sit down at my computer, I think, “How happy I am to be back at my computer, doing the work I love.” Now I’ve added a second part, “How happy I am to be at my computer, doing the work I love, on a computer that’s working properly.”

Do you find it hard to remember to appreciate the basics? What strategies do you use to keep yourself in a grateful frame of mind?