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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

One Simple Way to Appreciate What You Have and Be Happier

One Simple Way to Appreciate What You Have and Be Happier
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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.

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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

More by this author

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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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