The Good Life: Pause, Observe, and Absorb Positives
Nurture a sense of awe and appreciation in your life.
Posted Jul 24, 2017
Wow experiences are awesome. Just ask anyone who just had their first child or finally married the person of their dreams… or, won the lottery! But the truth is that happy, meaningful, and fulfilling lives are born of an appreciation of everyday blessings. Savoring the taste of your morning coffee. Feeling awed by the flowers along the path to work. Or even appreciating that you can walk along that path, or anywhere. These are the kinds of opportunities that present themselves to us daily. But, way too often, we are just too distracted to notice them. With a little bit of effort and a lot of commitment, you can learn to more frequently embrace the positives life has to offer.
The key to carrying the goodness inside of you is to find a way to pause, notice what’s good, and “breath in” the good feeling it has to offer. Rather than waiting for inspiration to hit, make it a part of your daily life – like brushing your teeth. I can’t tell you what will work for you, but I can give you some examples. For instance, you might begin each day with prayer or meditation. You might say some words of gratitude before your meals. Or, you might take an evening stroll each day and use the time to observe the beauty around you, as well as reflect on the positives in your life. Personally, one reminder for me comes in the form of a bracelet that has a message on it that life is a blessing. Each morning when I put it on and each evening when I take it off, I reflect on the blessings in my life.
It’s essential that you approach your routine with an openness to the good rather than an admonition that you “should” be grateful. If you intellectually recognize a positive without feeling it, that’s okay. Simply observe this experience. Sitting a moment while focused on the awareness might open you to feeling grateful; or not. Again, simply observe your experience. Then move on. The idea is that by bringing your attention to positives and then gently holding your awareness there, you are nurturing a sense of appreciation.
You can no more create a sense of gratitude by commanding yourself to feel it than you can make a plant grow by pulling it upward. In fact, such force will kill them both. Instead, your persistent return to routines or rituals can nurture and coax along your sense of appreciation. There will be days when appreciating and being grateful for the positives in your life will come easily. And there will be days when you will need to be tenacious to even see them. Maybe your routine will connect with you deeply, or maybe it will be no more than an intellectual exercise. But the longer you do it with an open and curious approach, the more likely you will have a greater awareness of the goodness in life. Gratitude will become an experience you feel deeply in your heart.
To learn more about this topic, see this brief video by Dr. Becker-Phelps:
Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset in Somerville, NJ. She is also a regular contributor for the WebMD blog Relationships and is the relationship expert on WebMD’s Relationships Message Board.
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Making Change blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.
Personal change through compassionate awareness