When you have to work eight hours a day, five days a week, without compensation for the hours you spend commuting, earning minimum wage, just to have enough to make rent each month, it can be easy to forget that you’re lucky at all. It feels, sometimes, like you don’t have a single luxury. You can rarely afford a takeaway or an evening in the pub. You might not remember the last time you went to a cinema or ate in a restaurant without there being a special offer on.
Those things are expensive.
And you’re exhausted.
And you’re not alone. Most people are like you. A horrific number of people are worse off than you. Realistically, to be as comfortable as you’d like to be, you need to be in top 20% of earners in the country.
And that doesn’t even mean you have to make a lot of money. Not millions. Not hundreds of thousands. But such a vast number of people work for a rate below standard living wage that nearly anyone working in a basic managerial position is in that top fraction.
So it’s no mystery you feel downtrodden. It’s overwhelmingly normal to have to compromise on your dreams so that your bills can get paid in the meantime.
During that time, it’s important to keep positive. Or the state of the world will ruin you.
Remember that you have a lot to be grateful for, whether you realise it or not. If you have clean clothes in your wardrobe, food in your fridge, a job that pays regularly, you are lucky. Even if it sometimes feels like the bare minimum. You just need to take time to stop and remember that.
So remember now.
Every contribution that people make to your life is special, even though it may be small and you may not notice it. But it makes a bigger difference than you might imagine.
You may not think twice about the guys who collect your rubbish bags, but they do an important job. If it wasn’t for them, you would be living in your own filth. Or you’d have to take your bags of rubbish to the dump yourself. Or find a way to recycle it all.
You almost definitely don’t spare a thought to the people that maintain the sewer system. In order to have functioning toilets in every house and business, it requires a complex and fragile structure. Lots of people do unpleasant work so that you can have this privilege.
If you are one of those people, don’t feel bad because others don’t recognise the difference they make to their life. You are the foundation on which this world is built. Without you, there would be nothing.
No matter what you do, take some time out to appreciate what others do when you’re not paying attention. Every time you take your bins to the kerb, be grateful someone else will take it the rest of the way for you.
Once you learn to notice and appreciate these things, all the little ways people help you will start to become obvious. You’ll become aware of the positive impact other people have on your life, whether they intend to or not, no matter how slight. And you’ll start cherishing every tiny gesture.
And you’ll realise that you are lucky to have your friends, to live your life, to be a part of this society. Although it’s not perfect, it does try to take care of people.
It’ll help you if you reach out.
Maybe more than you know, it already is.