Nothing lasts forever, but doesn’t it seem like a bad joke that the tough times seem to stretch on and the good times go by in a blink? There are many reasons for this; some can be worked with to create different results. One reason we experience things this way has to do with our ability to disengage from the tough times and have deeper contact with the good ones.
This might sound strange. Why would we have a hard time connecting to good experiences? However, it is true. We can be challenged in letting go of negativity and connecting in with positive experiences.
It is common in personal development workshops to have people sit with their eyes closed, do some deep breathing, and then do something like taste a piece of chocolate or a raisin. In this exercise, participants allow themselves a long time to do something that they might otherwise have done in just a few seconds.
It is a great way to get in touch with the lost potential of each moment as well as to help open up the senses.
Similarly, in our day-to-day lives, we might stop paying attention when “everything is fine” or “things are running smoothly.” We might gloss over the days where things go according to how we planned them and fixate on the bad traffic one night, the mistake made by a coworker that caused us to work late, or the moodiness of our child.
We might do things like tell the story of these tales of woe over and over again—or at the very least, run over them again in our heads. We might spend a lot of time thinking about how to fix them—in some cases, necessarily so. However, do we put equal attention and energy into the things that work, the people who are showing up in a good way, the parts of life that are waiting to be savored?
Here are some reminders that will help you get the most out of your day-to-day life.
Rebalancing: Often, we are just looking in the wrong direction or giving too much weight to the bleaker side of things. We can rebalance our perspective on life with the following tools.
Lean a bit in the other direction. If you talk (to yourself or others) about the negative stuff, try adding something positive to the conversation. If you are looking at what is not working, look at what is working. Conversely, if you gloss over the more challenging stuff, make a point of giving that its time as well. This cultivates flexibility in perspective and helps us recognize the choice we have in the way that we perceive or focus our attention. Ultimately, we can choose to look at things in a way that provides us with what we are looking for in life.
Put things in perspective. Just because something is wrong in one moment does not mean it has been and always will be for all time. If someone acts like a jerk—maybe they usually don’t, or maybe most people usually don’t. If you find yourself getting caught up in one aspect of the present moment, sink in a little more deeply and see what else is there.
Appreciation Skills: Appreciating the varied experiences of life is part of what makes life rich and prevents us from resisting whatever is coming to us in the present moment.
Look at what you have gained from a difficulty. After a difficulty has passed, it is easier to see how it was helpful overall to your life. After we have done that for a while, we can begin to appreciate our challenges more, even in the moment. We can know that the hard times, sometimes even more than the good times, offer us some amazing gifts. This decreases our resistance and fear and helps us become more connected with what is.
Keep your focus. In any given moment, there are many different ways that we can direct our attention. When we learn to align and realign with what is in our highest and best interest, then we are able to steer clear of much of what might send us off on emotional or mental tangents that have little to do with what is happening in the present moment.
Send love to those who have made your life difficult. If you want to be a ninja of peace, send love to the people with whom you are struggling in the present moment. This frees you from engaging with them and does so in a way that keeps you away from more stories in your head, mental chatter, or rumination.
Appreciating your life is first about being connected more deeply to it and then learning how to cultivate the states that bring you the most joy and pleasure. To do this, we need to stay away from some common bad habits (such as overthinking), learn to be honest with ourselves, and find authentic ways to connect with what we want.
Appreciation is one key to a happier life. Learn about another – that of presence – in my article here: >>> “Developing Presence in Your Day to Day.”