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Published on May 15, 2020

One Simple Way to Appreciate What You Have and Be Happier

One Simple Way to Appreciate What You Have and Be Happier

Everything becomes better when you appreciate what you have.

Practicing the act of appreciation – by choosing to think about what you have instead of what you want – makes life easier, happier, and healthier. The beautiful thing about appreciation is that the effect is immediate, profound, and always benevolent.

Appreciation triggers positive feelings. It is a mental action – an act of cognition – that acknowledges the value of a thing. That thing can be both subjective or objective.

Appreciation is an occurrent action and not a potential that must be possessed. But when practiced repeatedly, it develops a capacity for gratitude that improves your mental and social wellbeing.

You have countless reasons to be grateful and the moment you do, it immediately triggers positive feelings. However, you should view it not as an emotion but rather as a trigger to positive feelings like empathy, joy, and happiness.

For instance, giving thanks to a friend or genuinely appreciating his or her help can also give you a feeling of happiness.[1] These feelings can grow into emotions that create values and virtues over time.

All these originate from the realization that you constantly benefit from 1) the planet’s resources and 2) other people’s knowledge and experiences.

Not being able to express appreciation is one of the causes of ignorance. Taking things for granted is a bad attitude that diminishes the quality of gratitude.

Here is how you can change this.

Appreciation or Gratitude?

Gratitude has many definitions and many philosophers argue about what gratitude is; when the beneficiary is ought to express it and to which degree, and which positive or negative feelings or emotions it may produce.[2]

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There is also a difference between appreciation and gratitude.

Appreciation is more seen as a means of communication. You can fake it, even if you shouldn’t. You can say you appreciate something even if you really don’t.

Gratitude cannot be faked – either you feel grateful or you don’t.

In our context, appreciation is something more superficial – a mental action of a short-term duration – used rather lightly in everyday parlance. We mostly use it out of habit to show politeness but we cannot feel its power profoundly.

Whereas gratitude is a phenomenon of great depth – a power that reaches deep into our hearts.

But it doesn’t help if we lose ourselves into endless analyzations and argumentations about such a complex phenomenon.

We should rather just stick to the fact that gratitude, as a philosophical concept, is subjective and can express its power only to the degree of the individual’s capacity.

This intrinsic capacity cannot be attained through reading academic papers or listening to the personal opinions of some authorities (which both, without doubt, have their fair share in the field). But it is ought to be developed through self-practice, inward observation, and contemplation.

Only then can gratitude express its power effectively.

One Simple Way to Appreciate What You Have and Be Happier

How can we express appreciation and feel deep gratitude about it?

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3 Mental Actions to Prepare Your Mind for Appreciation

You can use the power of appreciation to put an order in your mind – making it organized, focused, and clear.

These three mental actions will improve your intrinsic values and overall mental wellbeing.

1. Use Your Past Instead of Letting It Use You

Before appreciating something, you need to recall a specific thought or event that lies in the past, like “this was a great help from this person”, or “I am so glad it’s sunny today,” and so on.

Focusing on recalling positive memories to express appreciation allows you to use your past in a beneficial, constructive way.

More importantly, with this mental action, you learn how to deal with your past and distinguish useful memories from useless ones and recall only the ones you can appreciate.

2. Recognize and Enjoy

At the very moment of recalling a positive memory, there is the act of cognition taking place. This is the moment where you acknowledge the “thing” as valuable and beneficial, resulting in appreciation.

This recognition fills up your present moment with gratefulness and enjoyment, which at the same time creates a past of positive nature.

This mental action builds a strong mental foundation, where you can achieve mental clarity and eventually recognize and enjoy some of your personal powers.

With this practice, you can express appreciation for literally anything you think is of significance to you. As a result, you develop a greater capacity for gratitude.

3. Build Valuable Prospects

In the moment of being in a grateful state of mind, there is a feeling of calmness, safety, and stability. That moment opens up an opportunity for a greater vision of what is important in your life and motivates you to take a courageous step and build valuable prospects for your future.

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The practice of the three mental actions will aim your thoughts in the right direction and create a constructive mental movement. Your mind gets sharper.

This practice is also great for reducing mental stress quickly and naturally.

Develop Gratitude Through Appreciation

Apply any of your personal truths or facts in the Mental Action #2.

  1. Sit still and concentrate on your body.
  2. Apply Mental Action #2. For example, recognize that you feel no physical pain in your body.
  3. Express appreciation for your health and enjoy that moment.
  4. Dwelling on this recognition, witness your present moment with gratitude and observe its capacity growing within you.

This practice can trigger a number of positive feelings and emotions, which will end up taking you to the state of serenity.

You know this profound state of feeling calm, peaceful, and untroubled – where nothing matters and everything is just fine because all that matters is that peaceful, harmonious state of being?

This state doesn’t require the illusion that everything in life has to be positive and perfect. Harmony is the balance between good and bad.

Capture this moment – this state of serenity, and use it to your advantage.

Everyone’s goal is to remain in the state of serenity for as long as possible, no matter what type of personality one has and what activities one does. The point here is:

  • To recognize the power of gratitude that has brought the serenity upon you.
  • Be grateful for the capability of your recognition.

The benefit is twofold.

Why Appreciation Is Important

To appreciate what you have, like your health, achievements, and so on, is important. But equally important is the fact that genuine appreciation is one of the key qualities for a healthy social life.

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Regardless of your personality type, you can always use appreciation to maintain and improve healthy social relationships.

Expressing appreciation is an important element for enhancing some of the most important social skills like relationship management, respect, and empathy.

As mentioned before, appreciation must be expressed genuinely – it cannot be just a mere appreciation communicated as some rhetoric technique. The mere appreciation might leave an impression, but it can never develop a capacity of gratitude.

Furthermore, when you truly appreciate what you have, you develop your affection towards it at the same time. This, in turn, enhances your empathy and you become more capable of listening to and sharing other people’s feelings. When you find yourself in this empathic state of being, you automatically mitigate the risk to behave inappropriately – a great method to eliminate bad attitude.

On the other hand, you can also appreciate what you don’t have like a disease or other malady. You learn to appreciate that life hasn’t given you anything you can’t handle like some desire or a job you wish for but aren’t ready to commit to yet.

Final Thoughts

I am concluding again the benefits of the first exercise with the three mental actions as shown above:

  1. Use your past in a smart way by finding positive memories and save yourself the dissipation of your mental energy.
  2. Practice your capability of cognition by identifying all possible things to be grateful for and enjoy them to the fullest.
  3. Ignite your imagination by creating your next constructive mental move with enthusiasm and motivation.

Practice this exercise continuously and your mind will sharpen. Remember, expressing appreciation and feeling gratitude is a mental activity – it can be done anywhere, anytime, quickly and efficiently.

You can use it as a sort of prayer – addressing it to a higher power or applying any esoteric meaning that works for you. Once your capacity of gratitude has grown, it’ll become easier for you to find joy even in the smallest things.

You will find a way to appreciate anything that life confronts you with because gratitude can teach you how to count your blessing and not your burdens.[3]

Your life is (or will become) serene. You should appreciate what you have because you have a lot.

More on Appreciation and Gratitude

Featured photo credit: Diego PH via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Giving thanks can make you happier
[2] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Gratitude
[3] Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life

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Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Start Living Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Start Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career? If you’re ready to take responsibility for your life, then you need to tap into some principles for success.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their passion and purpose way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you reach your goals and live a rich life on your terms.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand[1].

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work[2].

Give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life and help you focus on goal setting.

2. Focus on Your Strengths

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

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Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

To use this principle for success, take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it. Is it what you really want? If it’s what you really want to be doing, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP, the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life, it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut[3].

Silencing your inner critic is one of the best principles for success.

    To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

    This is one of the principles for success that will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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    5. Embrace Your Inner Self

    Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid people will find out how odd or strange we are. However, our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths.

    Odds are that you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

    • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
    • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
    • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

    The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

    Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

    6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

    I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you, but you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

    To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

    Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

    A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

    Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

    Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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    7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

    Pretend I’m your fairy godmother, and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

    What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

    8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

    Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time[4].

    Furthermore, a Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere[5].

    What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

    These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

    9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

    Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

    This is one of the most powerful principles for success for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

    Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

    “You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

    To learn more about how to get off autopilot and take specific actions towards your goals, check out this video:

    10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

    Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

    Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

    You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, and you can succeed again.

    Final Thoughts

    Eleanor Roosevelt said,

    “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

    Following these principles for success will help you find the time and energy to achieve your goals and live with clear intention.

    Stand still, get quiet, and listen. Your life is constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rock star potential in life and business. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

    More About Success in Life

    Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

    Reference

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