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Published on September 1, 2020

How to Appreciate Life More and Be Grateful

How to Appreciate Life More and Be Grateful

When you look at your life, are you enjoying the moment? Can you really appreciate life? If not, what do you need to change?

Maybe you need to change everything.

Gratitude takes a simple shift in your mindset. Notice the positive things, and you’ll feel positive. Notice the joys, and you’ll feel joyous. Notice goodness of the life you have, and you have more things to look forward to.

Gratitude rewires the brain. The ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex are activated and “involved in feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, interpersonal bonding, and positive social interactions, and the ability to understand what other people are thinking or feeling.” [1] After that, your brain releases neurochemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which allow you to experience happiness.

You may start a day with negative emotions and perceptions, but choosing to be grateful can help you in many ways. Appreciation leads to finding determination and feeling whole, you see. It can help you love your life even at your lowest.

Appreciation is all you need to make the most of your life.

You can appreciate life more and be grateful in the following ways:

1. Give

When you give to others, you don’t immediately realize how much impact your life can have on them. That makes it more meaningful.

You can easily give to a stranger, a loved one, or anyone by merely showing up for them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have endless means to provide for other people. What matters is that you care.

Selflessness is so vital in becoming the best version of yourself. Why? You’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You’re living with meaning and purpose. You lose yourself in doing good, so you can think of yourself less while still getting to know yourself. It comes full circle.

When you give selflessly, ethics and empathy are the best tools to have under your belt. You grow and evolve and see what’s most important in life this way.

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Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what’s real and get lost in the fleeting, fake side of life. But when you give, you remember everything. You remember your why — your reason for reaching out to those in need. You are no longer alone, and your love for life just shines through you.

What should you give, you may ask?

Give your time if you can’t give anything else. In that sense, anyone can provide something valuable to others. You will feel grateful for all you can do in this life with what you have.

It doesn’t mean that giving will solve your problems or anyone else’s. Kindness in this world can do so many things that we don’t even know of.

You don’t do it for rewards. You do it because it feels right to give.

This is how to lead a life that you can feel good about.

2. Mindfulness

Sit with your feelings, your thoughts. Listen to what your gut is trying to tell you. Love yourself. Then, look around you and see what you have.

Focus on the senses, and ground yourself in things that make you happy. You can be at the moment if you do it more than you usually do. Thus, you can appreciate life and the small things that come with it.

Try to realize how tiny you are compared to the vastness of the sea or sky. There is much to be in awe of in this world. Forget what is false and fleeting, and see the brilliance of being alive.

Mindfulness is one trick that most psychologists and gurus use to help others get over their fears. It is about finding acceptance, going with the flow, and sticking with it.[2] Instead of focusing on what you’re afraid of or worried about, you need to cherish the moment and focus at present.

Here is a helpful guide if you want to learn how to live in the moment: 5 Reasons to Live in the Moment and Stop Planning Too Much

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If you are mindful, you can take control of your life by letting go. This will reduce your stress and increase your mental strength. Your life can improve when you know what doesn’t serve you anymore. Then, you may learn to appreciate life without depending on others.

3. Love Yourself

When you love yourself, you can be more grateful for the life that you have. You can rise to meet any challenge that comes your way. You just have to try to be good to yourself like you would to anyone else.

Self-compassion is key to surviving whatever you are going through. Once you feel that, you will know who you are meant to be.

According to Deepak Chopra, unconditionally loving yourself is about accepting your flaws, inner resistance and challenges, old wounds, etc.[3] It’s not about just plastering a smile on your face and faking self-love. No, you have to get real with yourself.

Being vulnerable takes some power and honesty. You may start loving yourself more if you genuinely face things and appreciate how far you’ve come.

Appreciate who you are as you are. It doesn’t mean that you are perfect or that you are worth it. When you accept yourself as a whole, you can climb higher than you ever imagine and view yourself with pride.

You got here. You made it this far.

What do you love about yourself? What about the imperfections — can you give yourself grace for some of them? Be patient with yourself and realize what you have to offer. No one can live this life but you.

You have your unique path, so try to love yourself and enjoy the ride.

Learn more about How to Love Yourself And Embrace Who You Really Are.

4. Hyperfocus on the Positive

When you have a positive outlook, you become productive. When you look at what’s good in life, you can do more with it. When you stay hyperfocused on the positive, you can achieve anything.

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You appreciate life more when you have this mindset because you choose not to focus on its negative aspects every second of your waking day. You look at everything around you, figure out what you can use, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is an act of kindness that I or someone I know has done?
  • What is an experience I can look back on and feel good about?
  • What has made me feel happy lately?
  • What activities have I enjoyed?
  • What’s a positive thought about myself and my life?
  • What healthy choices have I been making?
  • What good things can I do more of?
  • What can I appreciate even during the days when I feel like giving up?
  • What good can gratitude do for me?.

5. Make a Gratitude List

You’ve probably heard of this one before, but it’s not easy to make a gratitude list. Still, that’s precisely what you should be doing.

Write down everything you are grateful for at the end of each day. Stay open to how life progresses and how your attitude or beliefs change before it’s too late.

The things you are grateful for don’t have to be colossal. It can be something that has happened in your past or is happening right now. It may even be something that you are looking forward to.

There are also simple ways to create a list. In truth, some of them were even used by children. For instance, you can play “rose and thorn” every day.[4] What was the lively (rose) or awful (thorn) part of your day? Try to find more roses than thorns whenever possible.

More importantly, you can write a gratitude list anytime, any day. No matter what your reason is, just write it. Then, you will find yourself feeling genuinely grateful for the things you have written down.

6. Take a Break

Have you spent time with the people you care about lately? Have you chosen to look around you and see how good your life is?

It doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep evolving appreciate the now. In order to develop, you have to know what’s worth fighting for. The quickest way to do that is by taking a break to enjoy life more.

Whether you take a vacation or go to your backyard to experience the wonders of life, take the time to do so. Perhaps you just need to exhale and know that you are safe. Maybe you were missing out on things before, or there was a version of yourself you would like to get back. Whatever it is, you can gain it all by showing gratitude.

Explore nature. Take a trip. Get out of the house. Put down your smartphone and look up in the sky. Take the more scenic route and find a way back to what matters.

7. Celebrate Your Wins

Please take note of what you have achieved in life and what you continue to do well.

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Doing so says a lot about you. It entails that you have a reason to get up in the morning and keep going. With that perspective, you can do anything.

You can also be grateful for any accomplishment, even if it’s as simple as being alive. You are still here; you will always have something to say.

Even if you can’t succeed at everything, whatever progress you have made matters. It tells an important story about not just who you are but who you can become as well.

You are resilient, worthy, and good enough. All you have to do is see it — see your value — to appreciate your worth and shape your life’s narrative.

8. Stay Thankful

You may not know how far a simple “thank you” can go.

When you appreciate everyone, you make more profound and more meaningful connections. When your life takes a positive turn, you cannot forget the people who have helped you along the way. After all, if you can remember them, you can remember yourself. You can choose to keep giving and showing up for life because you know who supports you.

Furthermore, say thank you to life itself. Be grateful every time you walk outside. You can decide to make it a good day just by being grateful. You get this one life, and what you do with it is up to you.

Your life has value. If you give up, you will never appreciate life. Your time is short, so every little bit matters.

When you give thanks, you make meaning. You pick out parts of your life that are still good and hold onto them despite everything. Then, you pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else. You can pay attention to the world and its beauty even if you are dealing with a mess by simply being thankful.

Final Thoughts

It’s not always easy to see what’s right in front of you. It’s easier to complain, close off, and be blind to the beauty that this life has to offer.

However, when you open up, you recognize that you are never alone. You have enough. You ARE enough. And that’s the power of appreciation.

Appreciation can fill you with positive thoughts and emotions when you think you have nothing. It’s the fuel that can help you keep going.

More on Appreciating Your Life

Featured photo credit: Nazym Jumadilova via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

How To Overcome Jealousy for a Happier Life How to Appreciate Life More and Be Grateful Why Taking Things for Granted Can Take Away Your Joy 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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