Last week my left ear got plugged up and it was difficult for me to hear out of it for about 48 hours. It was scary and challenging. Thankfully everything was okay, it’s all clear now, and I’m able to hear just fine out of both ears.
Having this happen was yet another example of how easy it is for me to take something simple, but very important (like hearing), for granted. Sadly, we often don’t appreciate the simple things in life until they’re threatened, impacted, or taken away from us in some way.
What if we did appreciate the simple things all the time, in an authentic way? What kind of an impact would that have on our lives, our work, and our relationships? Dramatic, to say the least!
The book A Thousand Things Went Right Today, by Ilan Shamir, is all about this phenomenon. Think about all the simple things that have fallen into place, just today, to allow you to be sitting here, reading these words right now.
With this in mind, there are two important things that you can do right now (and in an ongoing way) to alter the experience of your life, your work, and your relationships extraordinarily:
1) Be Easily Impressed – In order to be easily impressed (i.e. to truly appreciate the simple things in life) we have to look for good stuff, appreciate the small miracles that occur around us all the time, focus on the amazing aspects of people and situations, and let go of arrogant, erroneous notions like, “I already know that,” or, “I’ve seen it all,” or, “No big deal.”
When we’re difficult to impress we also make it hard to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled. When we allow ourselves to be easily impressed, life gets much more fun and interesting. Appreciation is fundamentally subjective. People and things are only valuable (or not) based upon our perception of them.
If you’re interested in living a life filled with passion, success, and gratitude, it’s in your best interest to allow yourself to be authentically amazed all the time. Life is a miracle. People are incredible. You are fantastic. And, these things are only true if we pay attention to them and allow ourselves to be impressed by the greatness of life, others, and ourselves.
2) Be Hard to Offend – Being hard to offend is not about us abandoning our values or convictions, it’s more about choosing to allow other people and things be exactly as they are, without resistance of judgment.
We take so many things personally that have nothing to do with us at all. The more we react to something, the less freedom and peace we have. When I get really “triggered” by someone or something, if I make it all about the other person or the thing I’m focusing on, I usually miss the real gift, the lesson, and the point (i.e. the shadow or mirror that this “negative” thing is showing me about myself and life).
We are not victims of the people or circumstances in our lives. Others don’t actually have the power to offend us. As Eleanor Roosevelt so brilliantly stated, “No one can make me feel inferior without my permission.” This same phenomenon is true about being offended. It’s a choice we make and we have the power to choose not to be offended in almost every situation.
Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) have these two things flipped upside. In other words, we’re often very difficult to impress and quite easy to offend. And, as you may have noticed, this doesn’t work so well for us and those around us. How we can start flipping this around (becoming more easily impressed and harder to offend) is by appreciating simple things.
Action Idea – Appreciate the Simple Things Right Now:
Take a moment right now to pause and put your attention on all of the simple things you can appreciate in this moment. Look around where you are, go within yourself, and scan your life right now – focusing on what you appreciate. You can just think about these things, talk about them with someone else, or write them down (on a piece of paper, in your journal, in an electronic document, on my blog or your blog, and more). It doesn’t really matter what form it takes, this is about putting our conscious attention on some of the many simple things we can appreciate in this moment.
Some of these things while “simple,” may be quite significant (your health, your job, your most important relationships, etc.) And, even if you focus on very basic stuff (the fact that you have a computer or device that allows you to access this article, that your eyes work well enough to read it, that the electricity or battery power running your computer or device is allowing it to function, and more), your ability to recognize and appreciate the “good stuff” in life is directly related to your level of fulfillment and enjoyment.
We always have a choice as to what we pay attention to, what we focus on, and what we appreciate (or don’t). Make a commitment to yourself to appreciate the simple things in your life in a genuine and ongoing way, and see what happens!
What “simple” things in your life can you appreciate right now? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.