Friday, October 8, 2010

Appreciating your Life

"Joy has nothing to do with material things, or with man's outward circumstance... A man living in the lap of luxury can be wretched, and a man in the depths of poverty can overflow with joy.”
William Barclay

In this week’s post, we continue to explore ideas and distinctions for overcoming patterns of greeding and for ‘wealthing your life’ with true inner and outer wealth.

Accepting and appreciating your self

According to the father of Cognitive Psychology, Dr Albert Ellis, psychologically healthy people are usually glad to be alive and accept themselves simply because they are alive and have some capacity to enjoy themselves and appreciate their lives. “They refuse to measure their intrinsic worth by their extrinsic accomplishments, materialistic possessions and by what others think of them.”

This ability to appreciate your life circumstances and situations is a life enhancing adaptive coping strategy. It helps you overcome obstacles and buffers you against greed, stress and difficult life circumstances.

Sometimes patterns of greeding are a futile attempt to cope with stress or problems in life – “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping” syndrome. But as we’ve seen in previous blog posts (e.g. Overcoming the hedonic treadmill), the satiation of desire never feels as good as the desire itself, leading to a vicious cycle of wanting more and more. Alternatively, by accepting and appreciating your self and your life and focusing on gratitude and appreciation you can overcome the life denying enemy to happiness of greed and selfishness.

The Blessings of Gratitude

Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California-Davis has spent the last decade studying gratitude. His research has shown that people who regularly practice grateful thinking are more than 25 percent happier, suffer lower levels of stress, are healthier and even sleep better. And I think you'd agree that these are all incredibly life enhancing things.

The practice of gratitude has also been found to be incompatible with negative emotions, and can inhibit feelings of envy, bitterness, anger, and greed. You simply can’t do greeding and other negative emoting while focusing on gratitude and appreciation. The expression of gratitude also stimulates moral behavior, such as kindness and helping, and increases social bonding.

What can you do?

So to increase gratitude in your life, use the easy and very beneficial Positive Psychology exercises covered in earlier and upcoming blog posts. For instance, make a practice of counting your blessings via a daily Gratitude Journal. In this process you write 3 or more things each day that you feel blessed with in life and really savour and appreciate them. Keep it beside your bed and fill it in each evening before sleep. Review it each morning.

Or use a Gratitude Rock or Item as a trigger to remind yourself to remember things you feel grateful for. I use a small beautiful rock I found on my favourite beach. I’ve placed my Gratitude Rock on my kitchen bench and every time I see it, I make a habit of using it as a reminder and trigger to think of something I truly appreciate about my life. It’s such a life enhancing thing to do, it feels great and I highly recommend it.

You can also send Gratitude Letters, emails or messages to those who have helped you and you appreciate. Just imagine how life enhancing receiving an unsolicited message of gratitude or appreciation will have been for one of your friends, family, mentors, colleagues or loved ones. And the wonderful thing is, giving gratitude has as much benefit and positivity for those who send it as for those who receive it.

Inner Wealthing - A spirit of generosity

In a sense it’s about creating and evoking a spirit of joy and generosity in your life and your interactions with others. There’s always something or someone you can feel grateful for or towards.

Generously celebrate your blessings, savor them and focus on the positives in your life. Even in the midst of the worst of life’s challenges, you can always choose to place your focus on past blessings and future possibilities. And truly, isn’t that incredibly life enhancing!

Awareness Questions – Savouring Gratitude

Ask Yourself:
  • What are the blessings in my life? Who and what can I show appreciation for?
  • What positive aspects of my life and my self can I fully savour and appreciate?
  • How can I focus more on the delights and abundance of the simple joys in my life?

with appreciation and joy,


  1. Beautiful post, Grant! The quest for "things" is in the opposite direction of the quest for true inner and outer wealth.

  2. Thanks Jean and Gareth, your appreciation is appreciated and fills me with life enhancing gratitude :-) Truthfully, writing a blog and sharing learnings is a wonderful part of inner wealthing. It allows me to connect with like-minded people and to re-focus my mind on generative ideas and directions. So thanks again for reading, sharing and continuing to be part of this 'life enhancing' blog journey.


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