How appreciation can change your life.

I have a lot of blessings.

And if you’re living in the first world (or the third world, for that matter), I’m betting you do, too.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize our gaggle of gifts through the daily fog of bill paying and bumper to bumper traffic and spreadsheets and all that stuff that seems less than inspiring. But blessings, we’ve got. Good health, a roof over our head, plenty of food, clean water, people who love us — and these are just the basics. Most of us have far, far more. Infinitely more.

For me, this is all about appreciation. There aren’t many feelings that beat the warm glow of appreciation. It’s like love’s underrated little sister — and I believe it’s a major contributor to our overall happiness.

Back in the day, I used to find a seemingly unending list of things to bitch about. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, I didn’t have this, I didn’t have that, Starbucks was out of my favorite syrup. Whatever. “I hate my life,” was practically my catch phrase. Now, I can’t even imagine speaking those words. That’s blasphemy against the universe that went to all the trouble of creating me — for realz.

These days, I fill that mental space with appreciation, instead.

Being happy depends on counting our blessings — as often as humanly possible. It means counting them when your iPhone wakes you up in the morning, when you’re washing your face, when you’re stuck behind an old lady doing 35 in a 60 zone, when you’re singing the Frozen soundtrack with your kids, when you’re cooking mac and cheese ‘cuz you’re too tired for anything else. Count them, keep counting them, never stop counting them. I count them when I’m in yoga class, when I’m washing dishes, when I talk to one of my far-flung BFFs, when I’m watching my dogs run like little jackrabbits because they love the way the wet grass feels beneath their paws.

There’s something to be said for ENOUGH. For contentment. For sitting with this precious present moment and appreciating it and seeing it for its perfection. Not longing for something else or something more or something different, but feeling fulfilled with our many gifts. And don’t tell me you don’t have gifts. You have so. many. gifts.

We’re taught from a very young age (like, the delivery room) that nothing is good enough. America is all about growth, progress, success. We need better, bigger, newer. We’re told to strive and claw and work for MORE. MORE. MORE.

The problem is, wanting more is not conducive to happiness. Being content with what you have, is. This doesn’t mean abandon all goals and take to a hammock for the rest of your life. It means love and appreciate and give constant, neverending thanks for what you’ve got.

So start counting those blessings. When you run out of fingers, use your toes. When you run out of toes, use a calculator. Seriously, count and count and count some more. Write them down. Write them down every day, and your entire life could change. Because appreciating what you have elicits a flood of positive emotion into your life. I call that happiness.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart


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