Appreciating What I Have

What makes you happy?
A new car, big house, bigger pay packet, lots of holidays?
But is this true happiness?  Or is it just surface satisfaction giving momentary illusions of happiness?

Ask anyone who seems intrinsically happy, no matter what is going on in their lives, and you could be sure that somewhere in their answer is the fact that they are grateful for and appreciate everything they have – even if they don’t have the apparent trappings of wealth.

Appreciation not only helps us feel good, but it really does contribute to a sense of happiness.

Take a moment to think of all the things you have today that you can be grateful for and notice how you feel.

Don’t you feel better than you did a minute ago?  You see, it really does work!

There is a popular belief at the moment that where your attention goes, there your energy flows and so you create more of the same (the Law of Attraction).  So, if you concentrate on all the good things in your life, your focus will be positive and you will draw more positive experiences to you.  Think about this on a practical level.  If you appreciate your partner, treat them in a positive way, they’re going to respond equally positively by doing even more to make you happy because it also makes them feel good about themselves.

Isn’t that a situation we’d all like in our lives?
Well, guess what?  We can all have it.  It’s simply a matter of choice.  We can choose to appreciate or we can choose to complain:

‘A person who sets his or her mind on the dark side of life,
who lives over and over the misfortunes and disappointments
of the past, prays for similar misfortunes and disappointments
in the future.  If you will see nothing but ill luck in the future, you
are praying for such ill luck and will surely get it”.
Prentice Mulford (1834 -1891)

Isn’t that a sad way to be and yet so many of us are actually doing this without realising it.  We replay past grievances over and over, we expect bad things to happen, arguing that if we’re prepared for the worst and it doesn’t happen, we’ll be alright.  Yet all this does is rob us of feeling happy and content with each precious moment of our lives.

Read the following story (I’m not sure where it came from) and think about how you could now ‘choose’ instead to be happy and to show appreciation for even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things in your life today:

The 92 year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock  with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied  even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.  As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

“I love it!” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs Jones, you haven’t seen the room, just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.  “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind.
I already decided to love it.  It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up.  I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.
Old age is like a bank account: you withdraw from what you’ve put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories”.

Happiness is not a by-product of the circumstances or belongings in our lives.  Happiness is a state of mind we choose to have by appreciating what we’ve got.

Rather than waiting until old age makes us more appreciative of what we have now and what we have had in the past, try the exercise below and see if you can change the way you think so that you end up being more grateful for what you have and create more of the positive in your life.

Coaching Clinic – Exercise

“You create your own universe as you go along”
Winston Churchill

1. Each evening take a few moments to write down at least 5 things you can be grateful for that happened that day and 5 things you appreciate in your life in general.  Eg I found a parking space straight away!
Having the freedom to drive myself where I want to go when I want.
2. Instead of wanting to control your life to the ‘n’th’ degree, make a conscious decision to relax more and appreciate life’s gentle flow.  Recognise those aspects of your life over which you have no control (eg the cost of petrol going up) and concentrate instead on developing a grateful attitude towards them. They’re going to be there whether you like it or not, so make it easy by finding the positive in each situation.  I admit this is a tricky one but perhaps one approach for the petrol scenario could be “because I don’t want to pay huge petrol bills each week I’ve now decided to walk more where possible and that way I get exercise without having to go to the gym”.
3. Think now about those things you can control.  What is it about them that you appreciate and like?  Eg I can control the food I eat and I choose to eat only healthy things so I feel and look better.

4. Is there someone you have been meaning to thank or show your appreciation to?  Decide to do it.  Write them a letter or phone them up.  Not only will you feel good, but you can bet they’ll feel even better!

I appreciate you reading this and wish you a happy week as you look at your world through grateful eyes!

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

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