Research Paper By Dana Ashkar
(Life Coach, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Many of us today, are surrounded with a dark cloud of negativity. We focus our attention on what is not working well in our lives, what we don’t like about others, and even about ourselves.
Happiness is distant, it is something that happens in the future, one day, once we get a promotion, a baby, a fit body, or find our soul mate. As much as happiness is crucial for living a better life, we think of it as dependent and conditional on a number of factors.
Don’t get me wrong; pursuing our goals is important to grow our lives. However, wellbeing and happiness come from a deep sense of appreciation, acceptance, and acknowledgement, not from achievement.
Today I will show you ways to raise your levels of appreciation, acceptance, and acknowledgement. Building on each, to create a framework that will support you change your life into a happy life.
Almost all our discontent comes from the fact that our current situation we are living doesn’t match our expectations; acceptance is the first step towards happiness. Acceptance is an empowering action that gives you the ability to accept things, events and people as they are. Not all your problems are avoidable or solvable; you often don’t have control over many circumstances. But one certain thing is that you can control how you encounter a certain situation. Are you going to accept it or fight it?
Acceptance is not submission; in fact when you are in acceptance, you are simply being present and mindful of all the lessons and blessings unfolding. Acceptance removes doubt and judgment, allowing you to redefine situations as neither good nor bad, fair or unfair, but simply as is.
Take any difficulty that you have encountered whether it was emotional, financial, or professional. The situation is labeled as “difficult” only by how you have perceived it, due to your chosen state of being. And this state of being can only be real if you consciously chosen it to be. There is no right or wrong way of being; it is only your choices and thoughts that determine what you will be experiencing in life.
Choosing acceptance as your way of being eliminates fear, doubt, and anxiety. On the other hand, resistance initiates those harming emotions, because by avoiding a certain unpleasant situation you are actually inviting it to become reality. Resistance and acceptance are polar opposites; the choice of “being” is totally yours?
Choosing the state of acceptance will with no doubt change the scenery of your personal life; you will see the good, the lessons, and the beauty in everything and come to acknowledge their existence.
Allow me to take you back in time, a time when you were a child. Did your parents ever tell you to acknowledge and be grateful for what you had because others didn’t have any? Mine did too.
We are all familiar with this principle, but rarely do we practice it. Maybe we do after something bad happens or perhaps even lose something that we didn’t know then was serving us.
Acknowledgment is fundamental for living a better life. It is the power to recognize the importance, qualities, and uniqueness of a situation, an individual and even your own self. The power of acknowledgement lies in its ability to shift you to the “grateful” perspective.
In the grateful perspective you will have the power to block out negative feelings and thoughts and realize that you are already where you want to be. Count your blessings of: being alive, being loved, being able to love, being able to walk, talk, and see, having a family, having a job….. Nurture and grow this power by devoting some time everyday to try some of these practices:
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things each day that you would like to acknowledge in your life, yourself, and even in others.
- Acknowledge others. Say “thank you” to others more often and genuinely mean it, let others know how grateful you are for who they are, what they have done, and the impact they’ve had on you.
- Use a gratitude rock. A gratitude rock is a small rock that you can carry in your pocket to remind you to be grateful. In ‘The Secret’ Lee Brower explains about how he decided that every time he touched this rock, he would think of something he was grateful for at this very moment. You will be amazed how this can change your attitude and perspective towards things, Instead of seeing the glass half empty, you will see it half-full.
By practicing daily any of these exercises, you will not only be shifting your perspective to your current blessings but also your state of being, because one can’t be feeling grateful and victimized at the same time. Hence negative feelings such as blame, out of control, and vulnerability will no longer exist, because you have made a choice to acknowledge the positives in all situations.
When working with my coaching clients, I start the sessions by asking, “What would you like to celebrate today?” Though it’s a simple question yet so powerful to shift my client state of being towards a positive perspective.
As Rasheed Ogunlaru said “In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day or to celebrate each special day.” Acknowledgment is a choice, so acknowledge and be grateful for what you have now, and grow your life compassionately.
Last is appreciation, it doesn’t need to be defined; it just needs to be practiced. In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that the top reason why people leave their jobs was lack of appreciation. According to the study 64 percent did not feel appreciated or valued in their workplace. The same applies to your own relationships with family, friends, and partner, where most of the arguments and conflicts stem from the concept of not feeling appreciated.
So if the lack of appreciation has such negative impact, will practicing appreciation bring more positive significance to your life? It will definitely do!
Try this, look around you now, in this very present moment, do you notice the miracle of your body? What about the place you are in, and the people around you? What are other things that you can notice and appreciate their very own presence? Look closer, and see what else you can find. Pay attention, become aware.
When you appreciate something you always experience positive, caring, compassionate emotions. Your mind immediately shifts, as well as your focus, and the energy you are sending out changes. Appreciation shifts your focus on what is not going well, which attracts more negative situations, to a better feeling that will start attracting more positive situations into your life. Which would you enjoy more, feeling good about something or feeling down about something?
Let me invite you to try these two appreciation exercises:
- Taking things for granted. Imagine that you have lost something that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see, hear or walk, anything that currently gives you comfort. Now, imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you are for their existence.
- Appreciation meditation. Sitting in a relaxed position, close your eyes. Now consider something that you would like to appreciate in your life. It could be anything, your family, your health, your kids, your job, your partner, anything you could think of. Feel the shift of emotions and the energy you are promoting. Once you have done this, give thanks to the good in your life. Now tell me how do you feel?
Try any of these exercises daily, early mornings when you wake up or before you get to bed for the next 21 days. You will be surprised how much things you will find everyday to be thankful for, you will notice the miracle in every little thing inside you and surrounding you. You will realize that life is a true joy, if you were simply paying attention and appreciating it.
At the end, stop disregarding the quality of the life that you are living; like who you are now, the people you are with now, and the things that you have achieved by now. Acknowledge, accept, and appreciate all the good in your life. Focusing on your blessings will invite more celebrations and wins into your life, so celebrate what you want see more of.