Living Abroad,  Thriving

Learning how to Appreciate the Moment

Dear Cassie,

Do you ever feel like you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off but that you never take a moment to appreciate what you have? I often feel like I am a person who likes to be busy (perhaps even busier than I should be) and finding time to be grateful isn’t always easy for me. However, I know that it is also important to take breaks and think about the opportunities I have and the wonderful people who support me through life. These moments are what allow me to sit back and realize that no matter what happens I am extremely lucky to be where I am in life, surrounded by the people who care about me. That’s why today I want to talk about learning how to appreciate these moments, whatever they might be and however they might appear in your life.

Today I am grateful journal. Photo source Gabrielle Henderson on UnsplashLet’s try it!: Recently I listened to a podcast where the speaker said she has a daily alarm to be grateful for something (or everything in life). She will talk about it with whoever she is with at that time and they all share the appreciation. I really liked this idea and now have a daily alarm for 7:45 pm—if you ever happen to be with me at that time, be ready to talk about the things you are grateful for!


Appreciate moments of stress:

This one might be the hardest, so it will go first on my list of things to appreciate. I think I am quite a stressful person in general, so if I never learned how to be grateful for these moments, I might spend most of my time being worried about getting everything done on time or having prepared to do whatever it is that I need to do. However, there is something satisfying about getting through a stressful moment. Even when everything doesn’t go as planned—such as running for the bus… and missing it—, you are still in control of your attitude. Everything from a strong body to the ability to communicate your delay easily are things that other people don’t necessarily have.

A cup of tea solves everything.Therefore, although I am aware of the fact that I can be grateful for things, it is in these moments of stress when I personally have to work the hardest to appreciate life. However, when I remember to be grateful, I remember that I actually have a really strong net of people to catch me if I fall (both at work and in my personal life). It is also in these moments when I can remember that everything passes and that some things were just meant to be—or, if you don’t believe in that, at least, I cannot control everything.

Pro-Tip: When I am stressed, I find that it is easiest for me to be grateful by writing in my journal.


Appreciate serious conversations:

Having serious conversations is actually something I really love so it is easy for me to be grateful for them (as long as I remember to think about it). In these situations, it is not so much about being right or feeling vindicated; the thing I like most about serious conversations is the ability to develop relationships with people and to change my own opinion. That’s right, I take these moments of reflection with people around me to look inwardly and decide if I am truly happy with the way I think/act about something. I don’t always change but without out this reflection I would probably never even think twice about a lot of things.

However, it is easy to forget that these moments are special and just think about them as a normal part of life. At the same time, having serious conversations requires an investment as it means that I have to be open and willing to listen to what the other person has to say. It is not the need to agree with them but to have an honest talk about where our differences are and why they exist. It means that I am willing to be vulnerable (and hope that the other person is too). When you invest in something like this, it is good to remember just how lucky you are to be in a situation of trust, understanding, and learning.

Pro-tip: I often share my appreciation by thanking the person for taking the time to talk with me, even if we haven’t managed to agree on anything.


Beers with a friend in Barcelona.Appreciate moments with friends:

While you might think that it is very easy to appreciate moments with friends, how often do you take the opportunity to step back and do just that? I find that it is incredibly easy to take these moments for granted and forget to truly appreciate when you feel comfortable, loved, and are enjoying yourself. Therefore, I challenge you to recognize these moments when you are with people you care about to make an active effort to share your appreciation with the people who make them special.

Now, I am a pretty touchy person who isn’t usually afraid to share my feelings with my friends, so this might mean I give them a huge hug when I leave or tell them that I really care about them. However, this way of showing your appreciation for your friends might not work for you. The point is to make sure that you are recognizing how important these moments are for you and, if you can, share that with others around you.

Pro-tip: When I travel, I often send postcards to those people who have impacted my life. It shows them you appreciate the moments, even far away.


Appreciate moments when you are alone:

Like moments of stress, times when you are alone can be really difficult to appreciate. Oftentimes we are busy wishing for more social things in our lives or looking to spend more time with certain people. However, being able to spend time with yourself is also a huge learning opportunity for you to figure out what is truly important in your life. Now, I understand that people are pretty divided on this and a good percentage of the world doesn’t like being alone ever, but if this is your case, consider how you can get outside your comfort zone just a little, even if it is just to reflect on how you have been living your life.

Learning how to appreciate the moment while living abroad in Spain.One of my favorite ways to spend time alone is to read a book (either one that brings me knowledge or one that just makes me laugh) or write in a journal. Reading a book is a way for me to step into someone else’s world, something that I love doing, and think differently about the life I live by comparing it to what I am experiencing in the book. On the other hand, writing in a journal can be extremely beneficial, especially if you are stressed or feeling alone, because it can help you recognize the things that you most would like to change in your life.

For me, being grateful for the moments I have when I am alone means trying to embrace them openly. This isn’t always easy, even for someone that doesn’t usually mind spending time without other around. However, by thinking about it as a way to invest time and energy in myself and the person that I want to be makes it easier for me to appreciate these moments.

Pro-tip: Use this time to do something that makes you a better you—whether it is self-care or an online course or reading, be you.


What are some moments that you have appreciated recently?



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