Appreciate What You Have – My Experiences with Gratitude

Appreciation is feeling like you’ve got what you need and you are thankful for it.  It’s so important to focus on that appreciation and not on wants because what we have could be gone tomorrow.

Appreciating what you have allows one to be grateful for all that truly is. Our lives are directly made up of the things we have – the present; not all the things we want – the future. Thus focusing on what we have allows us to be grateful for the present and live in the moment of truest reality.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what your life would be like if you didn’t have certain things or people in your life?  Have you taken the time to show your appreciation for what those things and people mean to you and your life?

What Is Appreciating What You Have?

Practicing appreciation means you choose to think about what you already have and you don’t want more. First let’s look at the definition for appreciation: recognizing and enjoying someone’s or something’s good qualities. 

It’s often confused for gratefulness, which is to be thankful, showing appreciation for and returning kindness. You’re satisfied with the status quo, the material belongings, the people in your life, your career, and everything in general as well as its worth.  You’re happy with where you’re at.

Two people hugging - Appreciate What You Have - Gone Minimal
Two people hugging

Benefits of Appreciating What You Have

There are many benefits to being appreciative of what you have and not wanting more.  One such benefit is not coveting or wanting what others have.  In some aspects this is considered a deadly sin and you’re better off not coveting.  This also means that you’re comparing yourself to others, which is detrimental almost all of the time.  Some other benefits of appreciating what you have include the following:

  • Gratefulness
  • Happiness
  • Satisfaction
  • Positivity
  • Good mental health

This all sounds great, right?  Now let’s talk about how you can go about learning how to do it.

How To Learn To Appreciate What You Have

Learning to appreciate what you have is a way of thinking that can bring joy and satisfaction to your life. It requires taking a deep look within to learn our values and what’s most important to us and practicing gratitude for those things. By appreciating what you have, you can form a more positive outlook on life and find a greater sense of happiness and well-being.

To begin with, comparison to others must be stopped.  You have so many things to be appreciative for: from your family and loved ones to the place you call home.  Let me share with you some ways to help you learn appreciation for what you have:

  1. Journal about gratefulness a few days per week or even daily. 
  2. Volunteer to help others in need by building homes, distributing food, caring for animals, etc.
  3. Spend quality time with those you love.  The kind where smartphones and laptops are not involved!
  4. Take care of yourself.  Get plenty of sleep, exercise, spend time outside, and eat right.
  5. Practice mindfulness and compassion.

Doing all of these things at least weekly or even some of these things daily can get you into the mindset to practice appreciation. You might even feel better overall!

Friends dancing - Appreciate What You Have - Gone Minimal
Friends dancing

How To Practice Appreciation

Appreciation is a mindset that should be practiced consistently.  It’s not difficult to do, it’s just learning what actions will get you there.  There are a few actions to perform to get you started with practicing appreciation:

Focus on the positive things in your life and your memoryThis will help switch your mindset from learning only from negative experiences to thriving on beneficial ones.
Recognize positive thoughtsIt brings forth positive feelings.  That’s appreciation.
Enjoy the positive feelings and the mental powerThis can lead you to feeling safer, calmer, and happier.
Remember how you got there and build upon itThis practice will make you a more positive and appreciative person.

You can start accomplishing this in just a few minutes per day.  Use another quiet practice like yoga or meditation to help you focus your mind and thoughts into the actions above.  These practices can help change your mindset and your outlook-which can in turn improve your relationships with others and brighten their day!

Practicing appreciation means you choose to think about what you already have and you don’t want more.

Perspectives on Appreciation

Appreciation can be based on our unique experiences, with each comes a unique perspective on life and how on interprets it. Learning about different perspectives can help guide us as we develop an individual appreciation for what we have.

Appreciate What You Have Now

because you never know if (or when) you might lose it.  Don’t compare your life to others on social media or even next door.  Try not to focus on what you want or what you don’t have.  Anything can change-including us.  Look around you-do you have everything you need to keep you and your family safe?  Are your basic needs being met?  Appreciate that you’re in a good place, as many in the world may not be.  

Appreciate What You Have Today

because life can change in the blink of an eye.  The world changes and doesn’t wait for us to catch up.  Spend quality time with friends and loved ones today because tomorrow may not come, for you or for them.  Be flexible and go with the flow.  It’s human nature to want more, but we don’t always need more.  More doesn’t always bring happiness-in fact, it can bring sadness.  Appreciate that your needs are being met, realizing that others’ needs may not be.

Appreciate What You Have Before It’s Gone because

from jobs and pets to spouses and parents-we lose things and loved ones throughout our lives.  You never know when someone’s time is up-so spend that time wisely and gratefully.  Share your feelings with others and tell them how much they mean to you.  Show your appreciation to your coworkers and family members, show your pets some love.  Make positive memories that you’ll always cherish and appreciate. 

Here is a very insightful TED Talk on the Power of Appreciation:

Popular Appreciation Quotes

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” – Helen Keller

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” – John F. Kennedy

My parents are my backbone.  Still are.  They’re the only group that will support you if you score zero or you score 40.” – Kobe Bryant

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson

If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

Learn to appreciate what you have-before time makes you appreciate what you had.” – Unknown

Examples of Appreciation Areas – From Real People

I asked 5 family/friends what top three things they pause on and appreciate in life. Areas they reflect on and value in their day-to-day existence. Here is what I learned and what they shared:

Appreciation Area# of People
Supportive spouse2
Job flexibility2
Life experiences3

It’s so easy to want more, but it’s even easier to appreciate what we already have.  We are so lucky to live the lives that we do, to have shelter and nutrition, to be able to pay our bills and still have a little fun. 

Other Resources:

Appreciating what we have will keep us grounded and centered, focusing on people and experiences rather than wanting what the television and social media feeds us will make us better people worth keeping around.  What do you appreciate the most?

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