In addition to continuing to be productive during the COVID-19 pandemic, we've learned to maintain bonds with loved ones and sustain rapport with colleagues and clients while adhering to varying degrees of social distancing. Given the challenges we face, life today is disconcerting or even distressing at times.
There is, however, a simple tool to help maintain equilibrium and foster happiness during trying times: active appreciation of what's good—from the smallest to the largest things, present and past. That's a lot of fruitful territory to plumb.
It's easy to overlook the small delights life offers. Say, for example, you purchased a new laptop last year that was everything you wanted in a laptop: its lines were elegant, the weight perfect, dimensions spot on, screen clarity sharp, and speed the best you've ever experienced. When you brought it home and began to use it, you noticed how much better it functioned than your old computer, which you promptly gave away. Now, however, you boot up your laptop in the morning and get right to work without giving it any thought. You might even be thinking about an upgrade.
Now, there's nothing wrong with upgrading your equipment. The thing is, though, it's surprisingly empowering to appreciate what you have in your hands right now. You don't have to do anything elaborate. If you, say, have a rose gold-colored computer, pause to enjoy that rich color before you dive into your day's first task. Just a brief acknowledgement of something that gives you pleasure is all that's needed.
Appreciating life's daily pleasures seems like a small thing. And it is. However, just like with money, small bits add up. And, according to an April 3, 2015 Psychology Today article by Amy Morin, appreciating what you already have enhances relationships, improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy and reduces aggression, leads to better sleep, and improves self-esteem and mental strength. That's quite a list.
Continually trying to satisfy a desire for more doesn't work. No matter how much you acquire, the itch for more rears up again and again. Appreciating what you have fills you like a much needed drink of water after you've been gardening in the hot sun.
So, take a minute to look around. What's one thing you see that pleases you? If you're outside in an urban environment, it could be the way shadows dance across a shop window, or perhaps the way a mother and son hold hands to cross a street. If your view is more pastoral, maybe a bee buzzing from salvia to fuchsia is a reminder of nature's unfolding. Inside, what's your favorite object in the room? Is it a photo of loved ones or perhaps an original painting?
There's no end to the things you can appreciate from your present and past, including people, events, sights, sounds, emotions and achievements. Just noticing the feel of your body as you walk around the block can be enlivening. Now is the time to appreciate what you have as we all work together toward an even better future.
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