What can you bring fresh appreciation to today?
Every time Leon wakes up from his nap, I enter his room, go to put on his leash, and wonder, "where did you come from?!"
It's a surprise every time I enter his room and see him looking at me. I never imagined that I would have a dog right now, and it's special every time he wakes up. Every time I go to see him after a nap, I'm able to bring him fresh appreciation and lots of love. I think my ability to bring this fresh appreciation allows me to enjoy him and each day a little bit more. A puppy has made this practice easy and has helped teach me how I can find fresh appreciation in things I do every day.
There are a few key things that I do to allow me to freshly appreciate him:
- I reflect on when I first met him.
- I transition before entering his room and letting him out of his crate.
- I practice gratitude, understanding that he is not to be taken for granted, as he could leave us at any time.
I'll go a little deeper on each point above, as well as share how you might apply this to everyday activities in your life.
Love at First Sight
I remember when we first picked him up. It was such an exciting and overwhelming experience all wrapped up in one. We didn't know what we were in for, but we knew we were ready to bring him home and give him all the love we have.
I think back to that day every time I see him wake up. It reminds me of the anticipation and the joy I felt when first meeting him.
We may not remember our first cup of coffee, or the first time we met a friend, or the first time we made a certain dinner, but bringing to mind a prior, positive experience of something we've done can allow us to bring fresh appreciation to an activity, knowing this time it will be different. When we pay attention to those differences, we can freshly enjoy these differences.
Much of our day is spent reacting, and we may not necessarily know why we're doing something while we're doing it. Transitions are an opportunity to take a breath, and to make a conscious decision. When Mister Leon starts barking in his room, it triggers an opportunity to choose how I go wake him up. I can take a breath, be grateful he's alive, and go wake him up with love.
Transitions from one activity to the next, or one place to another can all be opportunities to make a conscious decision of how you wish to greet what comes next. Greet what's ahead with fresh appreciation, no matter how dull you perceive what's next to be. Notice something you hadn't before and appreciate it for what it is, good or bad.
As Granted vs. For Granted
As I wrote about before we ever met him, we will lose Leon someday. I never lose sight of this fact, and it allows me to take his existence as granted, not for granted.
When we take things for granted, we assume that whoever or whatever it is will be with us forever. Though we may not expressly think it, there's a bit of entitlement in taking things for granted.
The other option is to take things as granted to us. I take my health as it's currently granted to me, and deeply appreciate my healthy body. I take my shelter as granted to me, understanding how fortunate I am and that I'm not guaranteed anything. I take Leon as granted, understanding that he won't be with us forever.
When we shift to taking all we're blessed to experience and have to be as granted, fresh appreciation and joy becomes all the more possible.
These are three things that work for me to bring fresh appreciation to “everyday” experiences. All three of these may not work for you, maybe none do, but hopefully at least one does. If you’re open to it, I’d encourage you to use at least one of the ideas above to bring 5% more fresh appreciation to something you do today, I think it’s worth it. I hope you do too.