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‘Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.’

We often look to the future to make us happier.  We think about the changes we want and that somehow we’ll be happier once they’re in place. Or we think we want more of something to make us happy, more money, more cars, more holidays, more tech. 

It might seem counter-intuitive but studies indicate that in reality these aren’t the things that make us happy. 

It doesn’t mean we don’t want to change or improve things in our lives, or indeed have more – but that those things alone are unlikely to increase our happiness and fulfilment, if we’re not happy now.

They may give us a temporary lift but all too soon it becomes the norm and we’re looking for the next thing, when we might be better finding ways to bring more joy, time and experiences into our lives.

Gratitude and appreciation can help us do this by focusing on what we have rather than what we want.

We can train our brains to look for the positive and the good and what we appreciate and are thankful for, and as we seek it out we will find more.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” ― Oprah Winfrey

Research indicates that one of the best ways to be happier right now, in the only time we know we have, is by practicing gratitude – or appreciation.

But how to do it?

15 ways to practice the art of appreciation

Choose those what appeals, try it out, pick and mix:

  1. Write a list of 3 or 5 or 10 new things you appreciate – daily or weekly
  2. Tell yourself why you appreciate each item on your list
  3. Appreciate yourself – at least one day a week make it about you
  4. Start with the big things and hone into the detail – you’ll never run out of things to appreciate.
  5. Reflect on the minutiae – find gratitude for the mundane
  6. Appreciate the people who’ve influenced you in some way
  7. Write a letter of gratitude to someone – send it, deliver it or keep it
  8. Tell one person a day something you appreciate about them – your spouse, partner, friend, family, colleague
  9. Write your list at the same time every day or every week
  10. Make your gratitude practice a habit by tying it to another habit like taking a shower
  11. Set the timer on your phone or use a productivity app to remind you to appreciate
  12. Share what you appreciate about your locality– show a visitor around
  13. In annoying situations dilute critical thoughts and irritation by finding some aspect to be grateful for
  14. Spend 10 minutes immersed in full on gratitude and appreciation of things around you right where you are – don’t writ, just experience
  15. Kick-start your habit with our ‘Appreciate to Accumulate guided gratitude mp3

Changeability Podcast CA36

You’ll find all of this and more in episode 36 of the Changeability Podcast, including:

  • 15 ways to build and hone your appreciation habit
  • Why you deserve your own appreciation
  • How to never run out of things to appreciate
  • Finding joy in the mundane
  • What Kathryn appreciates about Julian
  • A simple tip to help you, your marriage and relationships
  • What’s the OOPs Game and how to play it
  • How to never get annoyed at another driver again
  • Going on a rampage of appreciation
  • How to make good use of your time in the supermarket queue
  • How to quick-start your gratitude habit
  • How to supercharge your appreciation list

Links and resources