Here are some things to consider that I’ve been examining in my own life

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Expectations that prevent us from appreciating people:

Pay attention to the little things, because when you really miss someone you miss the little things the most, like just smiling together and being appreciative of each other.

To be honest though, I learned this lesson the hard way. And it’s a lesson that still serves as a wake-up call to me nearly 30 years later…

For my 18th birthday my grandfather on my mom’s side gave me four lightly-used flannel shirts that he no longer needed. The shirts were barely worn and in great shape; my grandfather told me he thought they would look great on me. Unfortunately, I thought they were odd gifts at the time and I wasn’t thankful. I looked at him skeptically, gave him a crooked half-smile, and moved on to the other gifts sitting in front of me. My grandfather died two days later from a sudden heart attack. The flannel shirts were the last gifts he ever gave me, and that crooked half-smile was the last time I directly acknowledged him. Today, I still regret the little thing I didn’t say when I had the chance: “Thank you Grandpa. I appreciate you.”

Ungrateful and oblivious states of mind:

We don’t always need more, more, more. We need appreciation. Because we often take for granted the very things that most deserve our attention and gratitude. How often do you pause to appreciate your life just the way it is? Look around right now, and be thankful… for your health, your family, your work, your comforts, your home. Nothing lasts forever.

And remember that being grateful starts with being present. Because you can’t appreciate your life when you’re not paying attention to it. So practice appreciating where you are and what you’re doing on a daily basis: Love what you do, until you can do what you love. Love where you are, until you can be where you love. Love the people you’re with, until you can be with the people you love most…

It’s about honing a mindful presence, which at it’s core means:

  • Being aware of what’s happening in the present moment without wishing it were different
  • Enjoying each pleasant experience without holding on when it changes (which it will)
  • Being with each unpleasant experience without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)

Senseless consumerism:

Have incredible stories to tell, not incredible clutter stuffed in your closets…

Intuitively, you already know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that healthy relationships, experiences, and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life. Yet you live in a consumer driven society where your mind is incessantly subjected to clever advertising ploys that drive you, against your better judgment, to waste time researching and buying material goods you don’t need or even want.

And at a certain point, the excessive material objects you buy end up hurting the emotional needs advertisers would like you to believe they are meant to support. So next time you’re getting ready to make an impulsive purchase, ask yourself if this thing is really better than the things you already have. Or have you been tricked into believing that you’re dissatisfied with what you already have? Keep yourself in check, and save yourself some time!

Endless hesitation when expressing love and kindness:

Sometimes we hesitate to express our love and kindness simply because we believe there’s more time left than there is. Yes, sometimes, sadly, we wait until it’s too late. So let this e your wake-up call to not waste another day: If you love someone today, tell them. If you appreciate someone today, tell them. Nothing is guaranteed. Today is the day to express your love and kindness.

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