We all have our ups and downs.
If you struggle to stay positive, whether you’re just in a bad mood or are feel trapped in the midst of crippling depression, appreciation can help. Gratitude and appreciation consistently rank among the best and easiest happiness habits you can use to lift your mood and boost your quality of life, both in the moment and over the long run.
The problem is: when you feel down, sometimes it can be hard to find things you want to appreciate.
In this post, I’ll share a few secrets to help you find something or someone to appreciate, right now, even if you don’t think you have anything going your way.
Related Post: How To Use Positive Affirmations to Change Your Life.
How To Appreciate Life and Be Happy, Everyday
Be Grateful for the Small Things
One mistake people make when they first start out appreciating their life is they tend to gravitate towards the ‘big things’ that they have going on. It’s natural to want to look at your major life events, and your big dreams.
The problem is, a lot of times, when we think about our top goals, they don’t always seem to be panning out.
When you break it down, however, you can always find something that’s going well, and if you narrow your focus to concentrate on what’s going well (and not whatever challenge or problem appears to be looming over you), you’ll be able to step back to appreciate it.
For example, maybe you have a goal to get a promotion, but you just got passed over for one of your coworkers. Instead of feeling glum, you can look for the aspects of your job that are going well – maybe you did a good job on the last assignment, or your boss gave you a compliment. For any big dram, there are a million ‘little’ steps that give you the chance to feel proud and accomplished along the way.
To some people, this feels trivial, or like you’re giving up your dream for a smaller goal, but that’s not the case. What’s most important is the act of appreciating, not the thing that you appreciate.
When you practice the act of appreciation in any form, your mood begins to lift, your brain chemistry changes, and you begin to hardwire a more positive outlook into your mind. In the short term, that helps you to feel a bit better, right now, but in the long term it also makes you more able to see opportunities, make better decisions, and, of course, feel more grateful, peaceful, and fulfilled with whatever is going on in your life.
Related Post: I have everything: Why am I not happy?
Find Things You Take For Granted
Since it doesn’t matter what you feel grateful for, another tactic is to find simple, everyday things that we almost always take for granted.
This can be anything:
- Clean, running water.
- Plenty of food.
- A safe place to sleep.
- The ability to read and learn.
- A healthy body.
- The air you breathe.
It is so easy to overlook these everyday facts of life, that we forget how lucky we are to have them. Take some time to put things in perspective. The median income (a teacher’s salary, for example) in the U.S. or Europe puts you around the top 1% of global income. If you know where you will sleep tonight and don’t worry about having enough food to eat, you’re better off than much of the world’s population.
Appreciate what you have, don’t take it for granted.
Look To Nature
Another tip is to always look to nature. No matter where you are, the beauty of nature is close at hand. Go for a walk in the park, and pay attention to the details of every tree. Appreciate the lines of the flowers in your kitchen, or the sound of birds outside your window.
Even if you live in a city, you can always find a plant or animal nearby. If you have pets, practice feeling grateful for them.
Reconnect with nature in any form, and you will activate a feeling of warmth and well-being inside of you. Appreciate it everyday, and you’ll soon find yourself smiling more often, feeling calmer, and staying in a more positive mood.
Focus on Past Progress
Another great strategy is to focus on progress that you’ve already made. This can be progress towards a goal you’ve set for yourself, or even as simple as recognizing the need to change an aspect of your life.
For example, you may feel depressed right now, but even this action – just reading this article – shows an awareness and desire to change. Even that small step is progress from where you may have been previously, and it’s ok (dare I say encouraged) to pat yourself on the back for taking that step.
Again, it doesn’t matter how small the action seems. What matters is the act of appreciation. It’s the shift in your mindset that will change your mood, and, gradually, transform your life.
Appreciate The Future
Lastly, if you still can’t find anything to feel grateful for, right now, then you can always turn to the possibilities and opportunities the future may hold.
Give yourself permission to daydream a little here. Recognize where you are, but then recognize that you always have the ability to change and move forward towards a new aim, and a new life.
One of my favorite quotes by Jim Rohn talks about how where you are, right now, is all but irrelevant to where you’re headed. It’s the direction that’s most important.
You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.Jim Rohn
So, if life sucks right now, that’s ok. Dream a new vision for your future, appreciate your ability to make the shift, and then start moving towards your dream.
Learn more about how to improve your presence of mind, or read this post on how to be at peace with yourself for more great strategies to help lift your mood and feel more fulfilled.