5 ways to appreciateDo you remember that conversation in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” about the 80/20 rule? Simply put, it explains how cheating is this attempt to get the 20% that you may feel like you are missing from your spouse, only to find that the person you run off with is missing the 80% you originally had.  Makes perfect sense, right? If you put it that way, why would anyone in their right mind leave 80% for 20%? Well, that 20% can seem pretty attractive when you aren’t putting things in perspective.

We always hear talk about having it all.  It sounds good, right?  I mean, sure, I would love to have an awesome husband, perfectly behaved kids, my dream career, and a house in Maui that just happens to be next door to my new friend, Oprah. Is wanting all of this realistic, though?  And more importantly, am I going to really find this elusive state of joy that everyone seems to think comes with having it all.  I honestly don’t think so.

Striving for a great marriage, wonderful children, and an overall happy life is not just normal, but I recommend it.  The problem arises when you develop this constant feeling of never having enough. Wishing your spouse would be someone other than who they really are.  Wishing your kids would behave like someone else’s. Feeling like more money, a bigger house, or a new job will finally make you happy.

I know that your life may not be perfect.  Maybe you are in a bad place in your marriage.  Maybe your kids do have a behavior problem and you have no idea how to appropriately address it.  Maybe you hate your job or you are tired of bill collectors calling your home nonstop. I get all of that. However, is there a possibility that you have exactly what you need?  Maybe you don’t need more than what you have?  You may want it, but do you need it?

When you can’t appreciate your spouse for who they are, you diminish their worth.  They may not be perfect, but do they give you the best they can at the moment.  Do they love you? Do they respect you?  Do they appreciate what you bring to their lives?  Those are the important questions.  I don’t think we are meant to have it all, or at least not in the way that most people think of it.  I think having it all simply means having exactly what you need when you need it, and actually recognizing that.

I don’t think my marriage is perfect.  I can’t say I am where I want to be in my career.  I can’t even say that my kids always behave the way that I would like them to.  However, I can say that I am grateful for the journey I am on.  I take the time to pause and appreciate my many blessings, knowing that I will not fail to embrace and love exactly where I am because I am wondering about where I could be.

Here are a few things that have helped me remain grateful for what I have in my life. My hope is that they might help you, too.

Keep a gratitude journal. I know people have been talking about this for years, but keeping one really does work.  It forces me to take a moment each day to truly reflect on what I am grateful for.

Appreciate where you are on your journey. Sometimes we think we need more to be fulfilled when we aren’t even able to appreciate where we are or what we have. Take the time to do that before thinking where you are isn’t working.

Focus on someone who may need your help. Sometimes we have to focus on what others are experiencing to help put our own lives in perspective.  Help someone in need and you will look at what you have in a different light.

Remember that everyone is flawed. Imperfection is what makes us human. It’s not about having it all and living a perfect life.  It’s about appreciating all we have and trying to live our best life despite any challenges we face.

Remind yourself that you have enough because you are enough.  Looking outwards for fulfillment is one of those things can cause a great deal of pain.  Look inwards and you will realize that you have all you need because all you need is within you.