How Learning Appreciation Will Change Your Life
Yesterday was a rough day for me. I had a difficult time with hearing constructive criticism from some of my clients. Driving home, I was pissed. Not only is it hard for me to hear anything negative, but it's especially hard when you feel like you did your best and it still wasn't good enough. I wanted to drown my feelings in a pint of Ben and Jerry's and vent to my husband for a half hour.
But on my irritated drive home, while I was muttering to myself in the car, I looked over and what I saw completely changed my outlook. There was a man on the sidewalk in a wheelchair, barely getting by. He obviously had a rougher day than me, and likely a much harder life. I didn't feel pity for him, but instead saw the truth of the situation. And the reality of my life hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was, bitching about getting "less than glowing" comments (that are probably true, which is why I was so triggered by them), and this man cannot even walk. Really? I can't complain about 20 minutes of criticism when I have so much to be grateful for.
I think we all can relate to having a bad day and many of us have experienced not-so-positive feedback from our bosses, colleagues, or for my therapist friends out there, our clients. It sucks to hear that stuff. But let's be real, we live in America, many of us have shelter, a job, food, use of our limbs, and a full life of friends and family. We don't really have that much to complain about compared to millions (actually probably more like billions) of humans that get by on so much less, and are happy! Perspective is everything.
The point is that true growth is hard. It hurts our egos to hear what we need to improve on. But if we take our pride out of the equation and look at the bigger picture, it's clear that there are always things to feel grateful for. That perspective will save you a whole lot of anger. Instead of ruminating on things that go wrong, learn from what you did or didn't do, and move on. Open your eyes to the fact that life isn't always easy or beautiful, but looking it at with negativity will only keep you bitter and stuck. Who wants to live like that?
So today is a new day and I have let go of the anger I felt by being confronted with some hard truths by my clients. I want to thank the universe for showing me that I have a million things to feel appreciative for, and so do you. No matter what goes wrong (death, illness, loss, pain), there is always something to feel grateful for. Even the little things like the smell of your morning coffee, the way your dog looks at you with undying devotion, or getting a text from your best friend. Those are the moments we tend to overlook but also make life so sweet.
It may take some reaching at times when you feel so low that you feel you will never smile again. But that appreciation will change your life. Make it a daily practice to remind yourself of what you feel grateful for. I do it before I go to bed, as I'm saying my prayers. You can do it on your drive to work or maybe while you brush your teeth. For the couples out there, it can be incredibly bonding to share what you appreciate about each other.
Of course there will be times when we all will get angry or defensive. That's okay! After you give yourself time to be mad, look around you. Look at the bigger picture. It's amazing how that frustration will lessen if you simply appreciate other parts of your life.