I was watching a Royals game recently and thought to myself, “This is nice. I love baseball.” Such a simple thing, yet totally worth my conscious appreciation. By acknowledging the moment in this way, I felt a bit more connected, as if I was wrapping my arms around the experience.
Perhaps it sounds trite, but I live for moments like this. Yeah, yeah, many things are more important than baseball, but that’s precisely the mentality that keeps us from embracing moments of joy.
I think many of us are married to stress. After all, it’s connected to our productivity, our alertness as a parent, our ability to form intelligent opinions, our motivation to exercise and/or eat healthy, our compulsive urges to “get ahead” and “to stay on top of everything”– the list could go on and on.
For those reasons, stress might deserve our thanks. So thank you, stress. Perhaps we can be friends, but I don’t want to marry you.
Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in our analytical minds. This is what allows us to solve problems. It’s good to solve problems. The shot of dopamine once the task is complete is energizing, keeping us coming back for more. But, if we aren’t careful, this can lead us to an all work, no play life. What’s that line in the The Shining? “All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I agree.
I had a drama history teacher back in college who made a great point. He said that most of our schooling is geared around developing skills associated with critical thinking, while the skill of appreciation goes to the wayside. I think he hit the nail on the head. To learn how to appreciate a piece of art, or even just a simple and sweet moment, are lessons we often don’t get enough of. That’s a real shame.
Let’s change that, and do life a little different. How about today? How about right now? Literally, take some time to smell the roses. Move away from your analytical mind. Punctuate the moment by consciously acknowledging your appreciation. Turn off the news. Watch a baseball game.
Small moments of appreciation can get us through the day. They can lift our spirits when we are down. Sure, this alone is not a psychological cure-all. But appreciation can make our lives a little bit better, a little more tolerable, and, who knows, maybe a little more joyous too.
At minimum, we owe it to ourselves to appreciate the little gifts of life wherever we may find them.
I took a college class “Psychology of Satisfaction” and still use thoughts from that class. Thank you for your always thoughtful observations.
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