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Last Updated on November 27, 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

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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