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How to Appreciate Your Life More

We can easily let our minds drift into looking for what’s wrong.

Key points

  • Learning to appreciate your life more takes real internal work, but the benefits are worth the effort.
  • Positive energy is infectious: If you project it, people will be attracted to it.
  • Rather than wallowing in self-pity, one can devote more attention to keeping things in balance.

The last couple of years have been a challenge, to say the least, and it looks like life will stay that way for a while. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, which is easy to do under our current circumstances, I am devoting a little extra energy to keeping things in my orbit balanced.

I am not one to close my eyes to problems, but sometimes my brain plays tricks on me, and I see problems where there aren’t any. Right now, I’m happy to be alive: I love my surroundings; I have a loving partner and pet-children I adore; we live in a lovely home on a lake, and strangers know my name and read my words. I have an admirable life by many standards, but sometimes that’s hard for me to see and feel.

It’s not an uncommon predicament, especially with highly sensitive people or perfectionists. When we have time on our hands, we can easily let our minds drift into looking for what’s wrong, not enjoying what’s right in front of us. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Out of necessity, I have created a few techniques for dealing with it. See if you can make these work for you.

  • Do daily appreciation exercises. These can be very simple. For example, just repeating the second paragraph of this post works for me. So does stepping outside and allowing nature to ease my soul. There is constant beauty around you if you look for it, even if you are in the heart of the city.
  • Look for what’s right. Instead of beating myself up about my perceived flaws, I go on a Sherlock Holmes-like search for what’s good. I glance at my books and their translations in other languages, all of which are sitting on my desk for this very reason. Likewise, it helps to display honorary plaques, diplomas, and other things you’re proud of having done or created to remind you of what you’ve accomplished.
  • Stop futurizing disasters. We all are worried about the future, but spending time imagining yourself living in a post-viral, zombie-infested world is not a good way to keep it from happening. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, just make yourself stop and remember something wonderful from your childhood—pony rides, carnivals, school dances—whatever makes you happy to recall.
  • Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. It is so easy to give to other people, but many of us expect too much from ourselves and don’t give ourselves enough credit. If you’ve succeeded once in any area, you can succeed again in a different area. You get life credit for what you have done; allowing yourself to feel those past successes will empower you, so you can redirect that energy into your current goals.

Life has been difficult, and that’s hard enough to deal with. Getting down on yourself will only make you (and those you love) feel worse. Energy is infectious, and positive energy is downright contagious. If you project it, people will be attracted to it, and life will become nicer. Appreciating your life more is real internal work, but the benefits are well worth the effort.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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