When the Awesome Becomes the Usual

Tales of a Pink Bathroom

My bathroom used to be pink.  I mean Easter egg, pastel pink, with pink plastic tiles with little gold flecks in them stretching most of the way up the wall.  Above the tiles, the previous owner had inexplicably painted the rest of the wall a screaming pistachio green.  There was a pink toilet.  And gold and ivory fixtures.  And a faux “shower curtain inspired” shower door that was actually rippled as though it were a curtain that had just been casually pushed back.

It was a travesty. When we finally got the money to renovate and started demo, the blue tarp stapled to the stripped walls looked infinitely better than anything that had been there before.

I didn’t realize until it was redone what that old bathroom had been doing to my spirits.  Getting ready each morning in the new bathroom, I felt something I’d never felt before: relaxedNot like I wanted to kill something.  I hadn’t realized I’d been spending every minute in the old bathroom gritting my teeth, but I did now, because suddenly I could start the day without feeling vaguely aggravated from the get-go.

Fast-forward to two years later.  My husband recently came across some photos of the house from when we bought it.  I didn’t even recognize the old bathroom as having been in our home.  I cringed when I saw it again.  I couldn’t believe it had ever looked so awful, or that we had ever managed to live with it day in and day out.  And suddenly, I felt a new sense of gratitude for the bathroom we have now.  I used to get that burst of gratefulness every time I walked into the redone bathroom, but now it’s just another room in my house.  I don’t even “see” it when I’m in it; it’s just a backdrop.

The trouble is, I’ve gotten used to it. As with any shiny new toy that gets boring the longer you have it, I’ve come to take my pretty, undisgusting bathroom for granted.  I appreciated the hell out of it when we first got it, but since then I’ve forgotten how incredible it felt the first time I stepped foot in it.  It hasn’t stopped being awesome, I’ve just stopped seeing its awesomeness.

 

Appreciation Depreciation

In financial terms, “appreciation” means an increase in the value of an item or asset, while “depreciation” means the gradual reduction of that value.  Sometimes, this increase or decrease is based on tangible changes to that item.  The value of your house increases if you make improvements to it but decreases if you let it fall into disrepair. Other times, nothing inherently changes about the thing itself; what shifts is the way the market evaluates it.  The U.S. dollar is worth more or less on any given day, but it’s still, in the end, just a dollar.  Our valuation of it changes based on external factors we consider important.

In everyday terms, “appreciation” means realizing what you’ve got and being thankful for it.  And it tends to decrease the longer you have whatever it is.

That was the case with my bathroom, the latest of a million little things I started out being super-thankful for and then gradually came to take for granted.  The thing itself is the same as it’s always been, but my appreciation of it has decreased just because it’s not new to me anymore.  It was only when I got a sudden reminder of the way things were that I found myself appreciating anew just how good I’ve really got it.

 

The Way We Were

Now my husband and I are talking about taking the old pictures of the house and framing them, so that we have a picture of the old bathroom in the new bathroom, the old living room in our current living room, etc.  They would be interesting conversation pieces, but what I like most about the idea is that they would be a tangible reminder to me to look back, from time to time, on the way things were, so that I can fully appreciate how they are now.

Stop for just a second and consider where you were a few years ago—before your new house, before you met your significant other, before you had a GPS.  Whatever it is, big or small, chances are there are tons of ways in which you’ve got it better now than you did before.  Our lives over time contain a series of incremental improvements, most of which we take for granted as soon as we’ve got them.  Just pausing now and then to reflect on how things are better than they used to be is a powerful way to make your everyday life seem just a little bit more incredible.

How many of the things you take for granted now would the “you” of 5 years ago think were just awesome?

Image: John Morgan / Flickr

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.