It was intrinsic when we were kids. We would stretch our arms out of the pram in reach of a sniff of those passing flowers. Now we hardly even notice them on our scram from the train station to our office. We’ve become so entrenched in our busy routine that we’ve convinced ourselves that we simply don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. And maybe it’s true, we literally don’t have the time to stop. But what if we didn’t need to stop at all in order to fulfill this ideal? Take that scram from the train station to the office, for example. Instead of ruminating about yesterday or rehearsing for tomorrow, what if we looked up into the sky and noticed how beautiful it’s shade of blue was? Or what if we made eye contact with the person passing us and connected for a moment with a brief smile? How about if we used those few seconds at the pedestrian light to focus on our breath? We bet you have time for them. In fact, we know you have time for them. Because the reality is, those things don’t cost us more time. All they cost us is our attention. We merely need to shift the spotlight from our monkey minds to the roses in front of us. And there are always roses in front of us. They come in all different shades, scents, and sizes, and while some may smell sweeter than others, we guarantee that there is always something to appreciate in our lives at every given moment. We know this for certain.
We thought we would share a personal anecdote which proves it. It’s about a very close family friend of ours. She immigrated from Spain to Australia by herself over 50 years ago. In that time she married, had two children, and built a wonderful life around her filled with loyal friends, an inviting home, and fulfilling work. In that time she also subsequently lost her husband and both her two beloved children and her world absolutely crumbled beneath her. She was left completely alone once more. The incredible thing is that if you had the privilege of crossing paths with her today, you would meet the warmest, bubbliest, most generous person you could possibly imagine. You would have no clue as to the depths of sadness that simmer in her heart. And it’s not that she is faking a happy facade. She is the most sincere and honest person we know. You see, she actually is a happy person, but that’s not to say that she isn’t carrying around a lot of sadness with her too. Her secret is that she constantly appreciates all the good and meaningful things and people in her life. Even amongst all the sadness and suffering that she experiences daily, she always manages to find something to appreciate every single day. And it’s not just her secret. It’s backed by science…
Appreciation is defined as acknowledging the value and meaning of something—an event, a behavior, an object—and feeling positive emotional connection to it. Research has shown that appreciation plays a significant role in one’s overall quality and satisfaction in life, independent of one’s personality trait or baseline gratitude level.
As you can see, it works. So we challenge you this week to invest your attention in all the things worth appreciating at any given moment. Remember, it doesn’t cost you any money, nor time. Only your awareness.