Remember the Jones’s who have lived next door to you for a decade, shading the sun from shining on your own home? Well, they too have moved away – tails tucked looking for higher ground and perhaps now, you really will have no excuse to overlook all the things you have in life. Turn on the television, listen to the radio or read the local news, and it becomes pretty obvious that the economy is not improving.
For so many of us, in the midst of raising families and making plans for life – this news could not come at a worse time. With the hikes in gas, come cut backs for things like vacations – necessary simply to make it from month to month. And suddenly you find that hating the car you drive, loathing the house or apartment you live in, disliking the boss, resenting your job. Comparing yourself to the metaphorical Jones’s and feeling bothered by the minimal increase in your savings account are - all for not. There isn’t much you can do about it now, and all of us, are smart to begin the new task of appreciating what we have.
In so many ways, it is sad that people cannot appreciate health until they are sick, money until they are poor or people until they are lost. Maybe that is just the inkling of human nature. More likely however is the fact that all of us, as a society, have become so consumed with belongings and net worth that our inner, spiritual worth has been overlooked and underused. So perhaps, there truly is a silver lining in the clouds of a recession and monetary struggles.
Firstly, the time has come for all people to begin standing up and taking notice of all that they do have in their lives. If you are reading this, chances are you have everything you need in your home to be comfortable. You are likely connected to the world, able to gather information and both literate and competent. Remember, there are millions of people who cannot read, write or even know what a computer is let alone have access to one. How many do you have? What other PDA’s do you have in your home? A cell phone by chance, maybe an I-POD? How many days do you forget to realize how easily you can connect to loved ones near and far? How simply you can satisfy nearly any urge you have to connect with people or even to explore some pretty cool shopping venues from the comfort of your own home?
Another way to begin appreciating what you have is to realize just how much you can live without. Only in a recession, that follows so many years of prosperous living – can we truly be given the gift of seeing the excess that surrounds us. Now that you may be cutting back or pinching pennies, you see how easy it is to do. Your life of luxury, may be slightly less luxurious, but pretty awesome anyways. Once you realize that you can live without the designer coffee, or the pricey resorts of the Caribbean – you appreciate your favorite Folgers and day at the lake even more.
Learning to appreciate what you have, also means setting new priorities. There aren’t many opportunities in life where we can be forced into the corner to decide once and for all, what’s really important. What is most important to you? Do you feel blessed or do you often overlook that most important thing?
You can also learn to appreciate the little things in life when you rinse, reuse, and recycle. When you cannot afford something, you find other ways to make things work. Its amazing how living in a recession, can be an eye opening experience for anybody from the ages of 7 to 77. You realize just how much you took granted, how much money you can save by reusing cups and may even flirt with cutting coupons. Learning how to live with less, and to learn less into more – is a pretty stunning transformation of self. At some point, you may even feel guilty about how wasteful you used to be.
Appreciating what you have is also about learning self-control. Living within your means and being happy there. Before, you may have felt cheated if you didn’t get everything you wanted. Yet now, you can truly find the balance of having self-control over what you do, what you buy. Instead of looking for constant entertainment in the hustle and bustle of a social life – you may find that rocking on the front porch with a friend playing guitar is more satisfying and much more fun.
Appreciation shouldn’t come at someone else’s expense. It is far too easy to realize that there are millions upon million of people that have less than you do. Feeling good about your life because of their hardship is not appreciation. Instead, focus on what makes you happy, what makes you feel relaxed, and all the ways you can enjoy your life with what you have.
Oscar Wilde, puts it in perspective when says, “The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine your life without one!” When you start thinking about deducting your blessings, you will stripped down to the core of who you are and able to know for sure what you need to be happy, and what you are entirely unwilling to live without.
Maya Angelou says that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. Making a life takes appreciation, gratitude for everything - from the air you breathe to the last dollop of toothpaste you squeeze out of the tube. And regardless of how bad the economy gets, how much you have to learn to live without or how distant your wants are – the one thing nobody and nothing can take away from you, is your ability to see the beauty and blessings you do have.