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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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