Creating a better and brighter future requires creating a future that everyone can appreciate and be grateful for. So, what do you need in order to be grateful?
To be grateful or to be ungrateful is a choice that each of us makes in each moment. Yet, it is certainly easier for you to be more grateful for some things than for others. One thing that makes it easier or harder for you to be grateful is your awareness. This is because:
Naturally, our bodies evolved to be more aware of things that change than things that stay the same. This is because being more aware of the changing presence of threats and opportunities in nature, such as short-lived opportunities to eat or to mate, supported our continued survival and evolution as a species. This fact also explains why rituals, ceremonies, prayer, and meditation. which direct our awareness to things that stay the same, require more effort than watching movies, with their changing sounds and images.
Living in the industrialized world, we are surrounded by marvelously consistent things. We access power easily and silently by plugging cables into electrical outlets. We access water easily and effortlessly by opening faucet valves. We readily access light with switches and dimmers. We cook, chill, and freeze food with ease. We also travel frequently over vast distances at high speeds using our planes, trains, and automobiles. To our hunter-gatherer ancestors, these would all be miracles to behold! Yet, how often are you aware of just how marvelous your life is in the industrialized world? How readily do you appreciate it and choose to be grateful for it?
The fact that things can always be better is something to appreciate. After all, if a real state of perfection was achievable, every change from that state of perfection would be a source of disappointment. Instead, we get to evolve as miraculous beings in an ever-changing miraculous world! Is that not something to appreciate?
For you to truly consider something to be good, you must appreciate it. And, for you to consider something to be better, you must appreciate it more than its alternatives. This means that creating a better future requires creating a future that you appreciate more than you are currently appreciating the past. One way to do this is to be more aware of all the things there are to appreciate. But, what is most important is for you to increasingly, continually, and consciously choose to appreciate each present moment. When you appreciate what is, you literally increase its value, making your ever-changing reality more valuable than your illusions.
To practice appreciating more, choose something that you are grateful for, something that you feel ambivalent about, and something that you dislike. Starting with the thing that you are already grateful for, take some time to reflect on everything there is to like about it and see if you can appreciate it even more. Once you’ve succeeded in amplifying your appreciation, do the same for the thing you feel ambivalent about. Reflect on what there is to appreciate about it and see just how much you can increase that appreciation. Then, once you’ve succeeded in doing so, do the same practice for the thing you dislike. See just how much you are able to appreciate what you previously weren’t appreciating, by consciously choosing to be more appreciative.
Before continuing on to Step 8 of this series, take time now and throughout the day to practice appreciating more. Start by increasing your awareness of what there is for you to appreciate in your daily life. Then, increase the amount of your appreciation, even for things you wouldn’t normally appreciate. The more you consciously choose to appreciate each present moment, the better and brighter is the future you are choosing to create.