Have you ever had something taken away from you only to realize how much you appreciated it after it was gone? I ask this question every time I start one of my speeches and seminars on appreciation. As I pause and wait for people to respond, many hands go up.
Most of us have taken someone or something for granted. We only truly realized how much that person or situation meant to us after the fact. For example, at the age of 23 my professional baseball career ended abruptly when I blew out my pitching arm. I was in my third season in the minor leagues with the Kansas City Royals, and just like that my childhood dream was over.
I realized looking back on my 18 years in competitive baseball that I had only one major regret. I pushed myself so hard that I'd forgotten to enjoy the game. I was so focused on "making it" and on overcoming my weaknesses, I had not taken much time to appreciate what I was doing along the way.
We often waste way too much of our time and energy focusing on what we don't like, what we're worried about, or what we think needs to be fixed, changed, or enhanced. We live in a culture obsessed with "bad stuff." Just turn on the news, listen to the conversations and negative attitudes of the people around you, or pay attention to the thoughts in your own head.
The Power of Appreciation in Your Life
What if we stopped this negative obsession and started paying attention to what and whom we appreciate, right now? Imagine how this simple but profound shift in focus could transform our lives, our families, our relationships, our careers, our work groups, and more.
Our life experiences are functions of what we pay attention to. Each and every moment we have a choice to where we place our attention.
I am not advocating that we deny, avoid, or run from the challenges, issues, or even the pain in our lives or around us. It is important that we are able to confront, face, and deal with these difficulties. However, we don't have to obsess about the bad stuff and let it run our lives. We each can consciously choose to focus on the good stuff in our lives, with others, and most importantly towards ourselves.
There are great things happening in your life and around you all the time. You interact with amazing people each and every day. But, this is only "true" if you choose to recognize it, acknowledge it, and live it through your thoughts, words, and actions.
Here are my top 5 principles to living a life filled with appreciation and enjoyment:
We don't have to wait until everything is handled. We don't have to wait until we get it all perfect. And, we don't have to wait for people to do things exactly as we want them to. We can start appreciating life, others, and ourselves exactly as we are, right now. Don't wait 'til it's too late!