Appreciating The Ordinary

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Lately, I have been making a special effort to notice and appreciate things that I normally wouldn’t … things that are everyday occurrences that we come to take for granted.  I have also been making an effort to look carefully at things I see so frequently that I often overlook, like all the photographs all over my house.

Last week, I was raking and noticed a tree root partially above ground that had three new green leaves growing from it.  It seemed a little out of place surrounded by a sea of yellow leaves that had already fallen to the ground.  I saw it as being symbolic of so many things … life is constantly evolving and is full of surprises, there is always hope for a new beginning, and so on. The week before that, I sat and watched a beautiful blue jay that was sitting on top of my hedges for a bit calling to other birds.  I found myself wondering what the bird was trying to convey. Sometimes I have discretely observed my kids doing their homework or something else that they do on a regular basis.  In the process, I noticed some things I hadn’t before, like how my one son runs his hands through his hair frequently while doing his homework and that he smiles when he understands what he is doing.  These are just a few of many examples I could share.

It’s too easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and lose track of what’s really important. Being more mindful of my surroundings has made me feel more appreciative of the little things that I often overlook.  It has also helped me not to be so lost in thought sometimes, which I tend to do.  My thoughts sometimes wander to thinking about the things in my life that I wish could be different than they are now. So not letting my mind wander helps me to be more in the “here and now” and think about all the positive things for which I am grateful.  I recently learned about how being grateful positively affects how well our brains function, which is always a plus!  I will continue to try to be more mindful of my surroundings and be thankful for even the most ordinary things, as it seems to be having a positive impact on me.  I hope you will do the same.

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Optimism

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It can be very challenging at times to be optimistic and positive, but it really can make a difference. Certainly, life throws us plenty of curve balls that get us feeling sad, angry, hurt, disrespected, disappointed, frustrated, and what have you, and it’s OK to feel all of those things.  What’s not good is to dwell on those negative feelings for too long, which is often easier said than done.

Not only is it not good for us physically to hold on to all that negativity, but it’s all too easy to let it affect other relationships and other aspects of our life.  Negativity at work can spill over into our home life and vice versa.  Anger towards our spouse can be deflected onto our kids.  Our view of ourselves and our success or productivity can be affected, too.  It’s very easy to fall into a rut of negativity, being critical of others, looking for things to go wrong, etc.  It does take conscious effort to be positive and optimistic when everything seems to be falling apart, but it can be done, and it definitely helps.  The power of positive thinking can be very strong.

Stopping to think about things for which you can be grateful is a good start, even if it is something small.  Coincidentally, I just bought a new wall hanging that has one of my favorite quotes on it … “There is always always always something to be thankful for.” For a while when I was in a pretty bad rut, before going to bed every night was writing down in a notebook at least one thing I was grateful for and one positive thing that happened that day.  It definitely helped.  Channeling any positive energy this might bring about can also help, especially if you can put it towards either doing something that makes you feel good (singing in the car always works for me) or doing something that would make someone else feel good (a random act of kindness, for example), which will in turn help you feel better.  Even smiling and laughing more can trick your brain in to feeling better.  Your brain will react the same way, even if you are fake laughing or just smiling for no reason whatsoever.  So don’t be afraid to give that a try. Finding ways to distress and let go of all the negative energy will certainly help as well.

Some people are naturally more optimistic than others, and I often wonder if they have a more positive outlook on life because things seem to be going well for them most of the time, or are things good for them BECAUSE they are so positive and optimistic.  Perhaps they become a magnet for attracting positive things and other positive people.  It can’t be just luck or coincidence.  I’m sure part of it is not waiting around for other people to make positive things happen and make them happy. They (we) try to be proactive not only with positive thinking but also in our actions, whether things are going well or not, maybe not all the time but as often as we can. It IS challenging at times, but it’s worth the effort.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.