Look at everything as if you were seeing it either for the first or last time. – Betty Smith
In the past 15 years, I have called eight different places “home.” Before moving on to a new place, I always find myself appreciating my surroundings more, knowing that I won’t be around to appreciate them much longer. As I ran through my neighborhood the other day, I thought about what a shame it was that I often wait until I know I am going to lose my surroundings before developing a more regular conscious appreciation for them.
My current home is in a safe, quiet, friendly community. Not everyone has the opportunity to live in an environment with open green spaces, free of litter and debris, where they feel safe to let their children play. I do and for that I am grateful.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits posted the 10 Essential Rules for Slowing Down and Enjoying Life More. I think many of these can be applied to developing a habit of appreciating our surroundings.
Here are a few things we can do to bring a more conscious appreciation to our environment:
1. Do Less – When you’re walking, walk. When you’re running, run. When you’re driving drive. Use this time to notice your surroundings and appreciate them.
2. Disconnect – It is hard to be aware of what is around us when we are on the phone or plugged into an ipod. Shutting down for a moment, can bring you more awareness of where you are and what is going on around you.
3. Be Present – Take a moment to cease the chatter of your mind and take in the world around you. Express your gratitude for the positive aspects of your environment.
4. Move Slower – When you find yourself rushing- walking fast, driving fast – when you don’t need to or have anywhere you need to be. Slow down and look around. Take a moment to appreciate where you are.
5. Breathe – Use your breath to help you to slow down and bring you into the present moment. If the air is clean, notice it and be grateful. We often take things like clean air for granted.
6. Appreciate Nature – If you have green grass, trees or animals in your environment. Take a moment to appreciate their place in your life, especially during the changing of the seasons.
7. Find Pleasure in Your Senses – Take moment to notice what you see, smell, hear and feel. Use your senses to heighten your conscious awareness of your environment.
8. Bring Awareness to Your Blessings or Fortunes – There are many people in the world who life in unsafe, unclean, undeveloped environments and if you don’t, take a moment each day to cultivate gratitude for the blessings in your surroundings.
Thanks for reading!
What about you? When was the last time you took a moment to appreciate your current surroundings? Is there anything you feel especially fortunate to have in your life?