Many of us are savoring things we used to take for granted. Walking, maskless, down the sidewalk, smiling at neighbors and getting a little lift when you see them smile back. Having a bite to eat and sharing plenty of laughter with a good friend at a favorite restaurant, indoors. Attending an industry tradeshow, witnessing a cherished child's graduation ceremony, gathering for worship with your spiritual community— all in person.
Each small thing in an expanding array of activities opening up for us provides a pinch of exhilaration. And at this juncture, I believe, the key to flourishing as we move forward is to not fall back into taking any of life's blessings for granted. But how do you do that? I have four suggestions: make connections, express gratitude, savor the small things and do good deeds.
We now have renewed opportunities to meet and connect with people. Even just showing genuine, cordial interest in what a stranger has to say while chatting in a checkout line can be uplifting. The encounter will not likely lead to a lifelong friendship, but it can be one of many positive moments in a day that contributes to a positive outlook overall. As restrictions lift and we explore more and more, we'll have many opportunities to make these connections. And sometimes they do lead to long-term, mutually supportive relationships.
It's easy to dismiss small things that are positive, especially if you've just lost a huge merchant account, a partner turns out to not be holding up their end of your agreement, or your day isn't going as planned in some other way. There's a temptation to dig into a negative state of mind, maybe even lash out at someone. And even when you're having an ordinary sort of day, it's easy to just carry on with what needs doing without paying particular attention to small delights. But it's often in those small, positive things that a rewarding life is built. Did your partner just arrange flowers from the yard into a lovely bouquet? Take time to notice how the colors, the shapes, the smells of those flowers. Did a colleague drop off an article likely to interest you or tell you about a new sandwich shop? Take a moment to savor how much these little things add to your life overall.
Noticing what you appreciate is a great thing. Spending time expressing your gratitude for those things provides even more benefits in terms of enhancing your positive outlook. Some folks write down several things they appreciate every day, from something as small as finding a parking space on a congested street to something as big as landing a major account you've been working on for months. Others gather with one or more family members or friends weekly to do the same kind of sharing. Either way, these activities add to your positive-outlook bank.
It is common knowledge that volunteering in your community doesn't only help those in need; it also helps you. Also, doing small things on the spur of the moment, such as helping an elderly man load groceries into his car, have the same effect on both giver and recipient. Some people even set aside one day a week and say, "I'm going to do five good deeds today." And with that intention set, the opportunities to do good things seem to rise spontaneously throughout the day.
Another thing I just thought of is how refreshing it is to learn something new. That could be a good topic for another Inspiration column.
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