Why We Should All Be More Appreciative

Everyone wants to be happy.

Well, not necessarily, but I've never met anyone who wants to be unhappy so I'll assume that everyone does want to be happy. (I think there's a logical fallacy in there somewhere.)

Appreciation is the feeling of happiness. I think happiness and appreciation is the same thing, but described in a way that makes their similarity difficult to spot.

When we feel content, it's because we are appreciative of what we have. We feel happy because we understand that we have everything we need in life.

Appreciation is described as an act. Therefore it is understood as something that can be induced by choice. e.g. "Be Appreciative."

Happiness, on the other hand, is described as something we feel and an effect of our outside circumstances. It's not that this framing around happiness is exactly incorrect, but it is a little misleading, and this framing makes it so elusive to achieve.

"What makes you happy?" What a difficult question to answer. It is so difficult to answer because happiness is a result of what we do, not a result of what we receive.

To put it more precisely, happiness is a result of our feelings towards our outside circumstances. But what happens to us (something we receive) is not the same thing as how we interpret what happens to us (something we do).

How we feel about something is largely controlled by the narrative we decide to use to describe the events that occur to us.

"I have to take out the trash. It's so much extra work to tie up the heavy trash bag and haul it across the yard."

"I get to take out the trash and feel the sense of accomplishment of tidying up my house."

"I have to walk the dog. There goes another 15 minutes of my time."

"I get to walk the dog. Not everyone has this privilege of being able to walk, or own a dog."

"I have to go home and give my baby a bath. I'm tired from work and all I really want to do is relax."

"I get to go home and give my baby a bath. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to go home early enough to spend quality time with family and give my baby a bath. I have the time and space to spend time with people I love."

Both interpretations are accurate but one will make you happier than the other. Why pick the negative one? We have a choice.

The reality is that being appreciative is a practice we can always employ, and happiness is the feeling that results from the practice.

The alternative would be to practice ignoring all the things we could be appreciative for, focus only on things that make us unhappy, and get stuck in a loop wondering why nothing good comes our way.

Of course nothing good comes our way if we don't practice appreciation. We'll miss out on everything good that happens to us.

Everything good is already around us if we just practice appreciation. We don't even have to wait for good things to happen. We can begin experiencing happiness right now.

Focusing on "without"

What can you not live without, that you already have?

It is in recognizing that we can have these things taken away from us, and in appreciating the fact that it is not taken away from us that we are able to be content.

There are so many things around us that we take for granted, but we would instantaneously notice how valuable they are once they are taken away from us.

Recognizing and appreciating something's existence, is much better than just recognition.