Do you take time in your life to appreciate the simple things?
While this can be easier said than done, especially these days, sometimes it’s the simple things in life that bring the most happiness to us. It’s all about taking the time in life to appreciate this stuff.
How I Learned How to Appreciate the Simple Things
A few years ago, my left ear got plugged up, and it was difficult for me to hear out of it for about 48 hours. It was scary and challenging. Thankfully everything was okay, it’s all clear now, and I’m able to hear just fine out of both ears.
Having this happen was yet another example of how easy it is for me to take something simple but essential (like hearing) for granted.
Sadly, we often don’t appreciate the simple things in life until they’re threatened, impacted, or taken away from us somehow, which is an all too often occurrence. Sometimes people don’t realize how important the little things are until it’s too late.
Think of all of the simple (and not so simple) things that we weren’t or still aren’t able to do because of the pandemic…and how much impact this has had on our perspective.
But what if we took the time not only to appreciate but also acknowledge the simple things in our lives all the time in an authentic way? What kind of an impact would that have on our lives, our work, and our relationships? Dramatic, to say the least!
The book A Thousand Things Went Right Today by Ilan Shamir is all about this phenomenon. The book invites readers to take a look at the little things in life humorously. It highlights the importance of appreciating and focusing on positivity in life instead of the negativity we so often see in society every day.
Think about all the simple things that have fallen into place just today to allow you to be sitting here, reading these words right now.
With this in mind, there are two crucial things that you can do right now (and in an ongoing way) to alter the experience of your life, your work, and your relationships extraordinarily.
Two Things That Can Help You Appreciate the Simple Things in Life
1) Be Easily Impressed
It doesn’t have to take much to be easily impressed. In fact, by actively paying attention to the positive things around us in life, we can be easily impressed by the beauty of life.
To be easily impressed (i.e., to truly appreciate the simple things in life), we have to:
- Look for the good stuff.
- Appreciate the small miracles that occur around us all the time
- Focus on the fantastic aspects of people and situations
- Let go of arrogant, erroneous notions like, “I already know that,” or, “I’ve seen it all,” or, “No big deal.”
When we’re hard to impress, we also make it hard to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled, which are fundamental parts of a happy life.
When we are grateful for the things around us, it makes us feel more positive, gives us more energy, and helps us acknowledge the goodness that occurs in our lives. It helps people feel positive emotions, build stronger relationships, and appreciate their lives more. It also leads to more optimism and less negativity and can even make people less depressed.
When we allow ourselves to be easily impressed, life gets much more fun and interesting.
Appreciation is fundamentally subjective. People and things are only valuable (or not) based upon our perception of them.
If you’re interested in living a life filled with passion, success, and gratitude, it’s in your best interest to allow yourself to be authentically amazed all the time.
Remember that life is a miracle and that people are incredible. You are fantastic.
These things are only valid if we pay attention to them and allow the greatness of life, others, and ourselves to impact our lives.
2) Be Hard to Offend
Being hard to offend is not about us abandoning our values or convictions. It’s more about choosing to allow other people and things to be precisely as they are, without resistance to judgment.
We take so many things personally that have nothing to do with us at all. The more we react to something, the less freedom, and peace we have.
Take a moment to think about what offends you or triggers you. Are there specific situations or people that trigger you?
When I get really “triggered” by someone or something, if I make it all about the other person or the thing I’m focusing on, I usually miss the real gift, the lesson, and the point (i.e., the shadow or mirror that this “negative” thing is showing me about myself and life).
When you take the time to look deep inside and find out what triggers you, it allows you to become more self-aware, enabling you to understand deep down what sets off those feelings and emotions.
We are not victims of the people or circumstances in our lives.
It is crucial not to let people have power over your emotions and feelings. You must let people be responsible for their own emotions.
Remember: others don’t have the power to offend us. As Eleanor Roosevelt so brilliantly stated, “No one can make me feel inferior without my permission.”
This same phenomenon is true about being offended. It’s a choice we make, and we have the power to choose not to be offended in almost every situation.
Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) have these two things flipped upside. In other words, we’re often tricky to impress and easy to offend. And, as you may have noticed, this doesn’t work so well for us and those around us. We can start flipping this around (becoming more easily impressed and more brutal to offend) by appreciating the simple things.
Action Idea – Appreciate the Simple Things Right Now
Take a moment right now to pause and put your attention on all of the simple things you can appreciate at this moment.
Look around where you are, go within yourself, and scan your life right now – focusing on what you appreciate. You can think about these things, talk about them with someone else, or write them down (on a piece of paper, in your journal, in a word document, on my blog or your blog, on social media, and more).
It doesn’t matter what form it takes. It’s about putting our conscious attention on some of the many simple things we can appreciate at this moment.
While “simple,” some of these things may be significant (your health, your job, your most important relationships, etc.) And, even if you focus on basic stuff (the fact that you have a computer or device that allows you to access this article, that your eyes work well enough to read it, that the electricity or battery power running your computer or device is allowing it to function, and more), your ability to recognize and appreciate the “good stuff” in life is directly related to your level of fulfillment and enjoyment.
The Importance of Practicing Gratitude
Never underestimate the power of gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a great way to appreciate the little things in life. It can help you feel more positive emotions, and doing so can help improve your psychological health.
We always choose what we pay attention to, what we focus on, and what we appreciate (or don’t). Commit to yourself to enjoy the simple things in your life in a genuine and ongoing way, and see what happens!
Click here to learn more about the importance of being grateful.
I have written five books about the importance of trust, authenticity, appreciation, and more. I deliver keynotes and seminars (both in-person and virtually) to empower people, leaders, and teams to grow, connect, and perform their best. As an expert in teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence, I teach techniques that allow people and organizations to be more authentic and effective. Find out more about how I can help you and your team achieve your goals today. You can also listen to my podcast here.
What “simple” things in your life can you appreciate right now? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below, or directly on my blog.
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This article was published on May 18, 2010 and has been updated for 2021.