Thursday, June 7, 2007

Seize the moment

This question arrived in my inbox a few days ago, but it's taken me a while to come up with a great answer.

"I recently hurt myself and I've since learned to appreciate the feeling of being pain free. When everything is fine how do you remember to appreciate what you have?"

If this were an easy question to answer countless poets wouldn't have waxed and wained about it endlessly. When everything is going along perfectly it's all too easy to take your blessings for granted; the health of your loved ones, the relative soundness of your home, even the simple things like a morning kiss. Sometimes it takes an accident or an injury to remind you of what you have and how it should be treasured. OK, maybe treasured is too strong, how about simply appreciated? In truth though, it shouldn't take a catastrophe to make you aware of the world that surrounds you.

All you need is a subtle mind shift, and maybe the creation of a habit or two. When you stand in the shower in the morning, instead of going over your list of to-dos, take a minute to make a mental list of 5 things for which you are grateful. Don't have five minutes in the shower? Make your list just before you fall asleep, or in the moment before you finally have to open your eyes, or whenever you are doing a mindless task. If you have a ton of spare time, feel free to write this short list down, maybe on days when you are feeling under the weather it can help make you feel more positive.

Thinking positively is just the first step. Being aware is the second. When you drive down the street, take a moment to notice a pretty yard or a nice house. When your child yammers on non-stop in the car, appreciate the fact that he is yammering, one day he'll be a teen and you won't hear more than grunts out of him. When a friend wears a nice shirt, tell her! Taking a minute to notice and making a note, mental or verbal, is what is going to help you appreciate the minutia of daily life. It's what makes living life a million miles an hour bearable, and, dare I say it, pleasurable.

How do you make sure to take notice of your world? What do you do to make sure you don't take things for granted?
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