What makes it so difficult to appreciate the simple pleasures of life? Why do we so often focus on the things we want, instead of reflecting on what we’re given? It seems we’re in a constant state of yearning for things not yet achieved, spinning our wheels in a never-ending pursuit of that one special tonic that we believe will make us happy. But as we furiously chase that shiny new object, we spend less and less time enjoying our life.
Most of what we’ve attained in our lives were once dreams or goals. We longed to have our beloved children. Our deepest desire was to be a homeowner. We hoped we’d finally land a decent job. Yet when we achieve our goals, we still find it difficult to appreciate life. Taking the best things in life for granted is not new, but you can recognize the magic of daily tender mercies with five principles to help you live a joyful life.
Here’s how to bring magic in your life by learning to appreciate what you have:
Live in the Moment
Being mindful is a state of focused attention on the present. When you live in the moment, you’re able to fully appreciate all the details of your life. The morning sunrise, a chirping bird, your child’s smile, and even your food becomes more enjoyable. Tasks that once seemed tedious will be more fulfilling when you focus on the present. In fact, research has shown that being present in your daily activities allows you to appreciate life and be more effective in the pursuit of your goals. But being mindful takes practice; therefore the best way to start is by doing one thing at a time. Single-tasking helps you remain focused on the present. So take ownership of your time, and remember the Zen Proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
Embrace the Power of Giving
We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive.” But this adage is more than just a religious axiom parents use to induce small children to share. Throughout history, scholars and philosophers have agreed that true happiness lies in helping others. Lending a helping hand to someone less fortunate enables you to appreciate what you have in a more meaningful way. Studies have shown that the act of altruism releases pleasurable endorphins known as a helper’s high. Whether you’re giving your time or your resources, helping others can increase life-expectancy, reduce stress, and improve your mental health. Doing good things for others elicits strong feelings of self-worth and satisfaction which can help you appreciate yourself and your current situation in life.
Develop a Gratitude Mindset
Gratitude is a mindset and emotion that enables us to view our lives through the lens of hope and positivity. Developing a practice of being thankful allows a stuck mindset to release itself from the burden of focusing on the half-empty glass. Not everyone is instinctively appreciative, but you can develop a grateful mindset with a daily practice of acknowledging the blessings in your life. Making gratitude a habit will enable you to focus on your goals without dwelling on your failures.
Keeping a nighttime gratitude journal or practicing a morning thank you mantra are great boosters that will help you sustain a positive mindset and appreciate your life. Once you’ve established a gratitude habit, you’ll develop a deeper satisfaction with your life, and feel less anxiety about your future.
Embrace Your Challenges
No one’s life is perfect. As we navigate through the bumpy roadblocks in life, we all deal with failure, loss and sometimes tragedy. Yet if we allow ourselves to view these struggles as character building opportunities, we can experience tremendous growth during the unexpected detours on our journey. One of the surest ways to find contentment is to be thankful during the most difficult times in your life. When we understand and appreciate life’s challenges, a peaceful security emerges from knowing that the inevitable trials we face can ultimately be endured.