50 Ways to Appreciate Life

1. Look around!

Even being extremely nearsighted and requiring glasses, I’ve always had the habit of taking my eyes for granted. I’m assuming if you’re reading this sight, then you have functional eyes as well. (We have so much in common, we should be friends!) But try walking around your own house, a place where you’ve spent countless nights, blindfolded, and think about how it’d feel to wake up one day completely blind.

2. Enjoy the sights!
We’ve come to depend on our eyes in order to get around, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are so many lovely sights to see. If your surroundings have gotten too predictable and familiar, then take a walk down that street you always cut around, or take the exit that your friend said “goes nowhere”. Who knows what you may discover?

3. Eat something!
No matter where you live on this planet, there is food. And the best part is, there are tons of varieties, and so many possibilities. Even if you only like a select group of flavors, as long as you keep an open mind, you’ll be able to find an infinite number of dishes you like. Eating is a necessity for life, but try consciously thinking about every bite as you chew on something good, and you’ll see why you should appreciate it. Personally I love food, and I have trouble understanding people who disagree with that.

4. Listen to the music!
I think it’s simply the darned-est thing how amidst all of the plain tick-tocks, click-clacks (i.e. this keyboard), and chirp-chirps there is also an endless combination of pleasant tunes for humanity to enjoy. Humans enjoy a wider array of senses than most animals, and they more than readily taken advantage of that when they create music. Scientific research shows that music can affect the same parts of the brain as sex, as I’m sure you can relate to when you hear your favorite song on the radio. ūüôā

5. Take a break! (and enjoy the leisure)
In today’s world, it’s easy to get carried away with the idea of progress, and goals, and everything. Check out¬†this article¬†for what I mean, since I’d rather not type it twice.

6. Talk to a friend!
Humans are social creatures; I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Even the most introverted can delight in the company of a friend or family member. It’s fun to revel in the idea that simply being around others can make you happier, and plus, you can share valuable insights and laughs with them. Life would not be nearly as fun a game if it were single player.

7. Talk to a family member!
While we might not like to admit it, sometimes friends come and go out of our lives. However, family tends to stick around longer, and family tends to be who ends up telling you when something you’re doing is out of whack. They’re the ones more likely to ground you when you’ve overstepped your bounds, and give you a (#15) when you don’t feel like you deserve it. Call your mom, bud.

8. Talk to a stranger!
Try something new, choose from 7 billion people and learn a little from the experiences of others. You never know what people will tell/give you, and how you might be able to help them (#14). You can even talk to people online through websites like Chat-roulette and Oovoo (watch out for creeps, though).

9. Read/Watch something funny!
Laughing is a fantastic ability we humans have. We laugh not only because something is funny, but because we all speak the internal language of laughter. It is such a part of our daily lives, but we often forget about its significance. Imagine if you didn’t have laughter to melt the ice when you met someone, or if you had to communicate without laughing ever. Laughing is not always the result of humor, but it usually is. Sometimes, when all else seems to be dragging us down, a good joke, sarcastic comment, or meme can be just what we need to refresh our perspective.

10. Play a game!
Humans are programmed with the innate ability to have fun. We’re competitive, enthusiastic, and strategic, and we love to play games. Find a friend (or #8) and play one of your old favorites. Or, if you want to try something new, find a new¬†puzzle¬†or¬†card¬†game.

11. Bask in the sun!
It’s pretty safe to assume that, if you are living on earth, there is at least some sun at some point in each day ¬†(weather permitting). For most of us it is around for about half of each day, so why not appreciate it before it goes away for the night? Sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D and makes us feel happy by promoting serotonin, the happy hormone.*

12. Play in the rain!
What’s that? It’s raining outside? Get outside anyway! People often forget to credit rain as what keeps the cycle of life going (no metaphysical). I don’t know about you, but there’s just something exhilarating about pouring rain and booming thunder. Something that feels almost primal…

13. Watch the sunset/sunrise!
As a child, the simplest things were the purest joy to us. But all is not lost, if we simply change our perspectives to not expect anything. Imagine looking at the sun rise as if it were the first sunrise in history, with all of the wonder and spectacle of a newborn. And then think about it; think deep.

14. Lend someone a hand!
Buy a load of groceries for someone else. Help someone whose car is pulled over alongside the road. Mend a broken heart. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll appreciate their gratitude. There’s an insurance company commercial that hits the nail on the head: humans are imperfect, but they are at their best when they help each other.

15. Hug someone!
A hug is one of the most powerful kinds of empathy that you can give someone, and it costs both of you nothing! (except maybe one calorie) A hug can brighten your day, squeeze away your anxiety, and melt away your fears. As stated earlier, humans are social creatures, and life is so much better with positive interaction from those around you. Science shows that hugs can lower blood pressure, reduce stress in women, and decrease the risk of heart disease.

16. Smell a flower!
If you don’t like flowers (I won’t judge you) then simply smell your favorite smell, whether that be a gas station, basement, restaurant, etc. As you (probably) know by now, I am a huge nerd who loves when science proves a long-held belief. You can smell over 10,000 odors; no matter who you are, that is rather impressive. We detect bad odors to alert when situations get dangerous, and we inhale great odors when we truly enjoy ourselves. Just try eating a slice of pizza while pinching your nose shut. It’s not nearly as fun.

17. Take a walk!
Whenever I go walking ¬†for a while, I feel like I’m making progress, going from one place to another.¬†Even¬†if I have no idea where I’m heading, it feels good to be going somewhere. Whenever burdened with a dilemma or situation, it might be a good idea to get away from it all for a bit. Furthermore, I’ve had some of my best ideas and conversations on relaxing strolls.

18. Take a run!
Many people will roll their eyes at this, but yes, I’m serious. What’s your excuse? Take it easy at first and build up to it if necessary. Not enough time? If you can find leisure time to go look at new blogs, then you’ve got time to run. Too boring? Listen to music, or try out one of these¬†apps¬†designed specifically against boredom. Either way, run until you’ve got nothing left in the tank, and then kick back and appreciate your runner’s high. Also, appreciate that humans don’t have to run everywhere they go any more!

19. Take a nap.
No matter how little or how much you do it, sleep makes you feel good! Your body does not fail to reward a good night’s sleep, or a good afternoon’s sleep. The midday siesta has been shown to increase positive mood, energy, awareness, and productivity. Reset your mood, and appreciate that you have the ability to.

20. Switch it up!
Everyone has some kind of routine, whether it is what time they wake up to having a complete hour nighttime ritual. Sometimes the best way to appreciate something is to go without it. Let’s say you always go to the same restaurant every Friday for lunch; maybe you’ll enjoy the new place better or come to just take pleasure in trying different things each time. Variety can be found in the smallest things. There are so many things to do with the smallest amount of time, and *that* is something to be¬†grateful¬†for.

21. Give a gift!
TED Speaker Michael Norton explains that money¬†can¬†buy happiness: when we don’t spend it on ourselves. Giving the simplest gift to someone in need can brighten up both your day, and theirs. It can remind us of the only lasting impact we can have throughout our lives: the effect we have on others. What do you have to lose besides a bit of time and a smidge of money?

22. Give your time!
What’s even better than donating your money to someone who could use it? How about donating your time, instead? After all, it’s the most valuable thing we can give, regardless of who we are. Resources are replaceable and optional, but time and effort are universal constants. It seems like people are only considerate when disaster falls upon them, but why should that stop people like us from standing out?

23. Get clean!
Warm showers are a good place to get hit with inspiration, and at the same time are a good place to practice being present. Plus, it helps to realize that we’re lucky that it’s that easy to get squeaky clean and lavender-scented. Even better if you take a shower with someone else. ūüėČ

24. Get in touch with nature!
Going on a long hike with friends or even by yourself is a great way to relax, get a bit of exercise, as well as either a bonding experience or an opportunity to look inwards. This experience is intensified by hugging trees and rolling in flower patches. Eat wild berries and try your hand at impromptu bird calling. Get excited at each bunny that hops past, I know i do. You may be surprised at what you see in the wilderness, but if you’re not then just cherish it as it is. I think it is more beautiful than anything man-made.*
25. Realize that you’re probably not the first.
Hey man, take it easy. This has been done before, and I know you can, too. Billions of people have existed before you, and I’m sure at least one of them has something you need, whether you know it then or not. But it’s alright, because they’ll always be waiting for you. Appreciate that you’re not on this crazy journey of life by yourself; you’re accompanied by dead people! Please report to your psychiatrist if you see them, though.

26. Create something!
The impact that we make on our old lives is due to be erased in 100 years, and the impact we make on others’ lives might not last 100 generations, but the works we create can outlive 100 lifetimes. Wow, that sounds really sappy, but it’s every bit true. Everything that we consider a convenience today had to be invented by someone, and all of the art that we enjoy today had to have an artist. Be a true human and make something that will outlast yourself.

27. Take public transportation!
Now, most of you will think I’m crazy, stupid, or somewhere in-between. Not entirely denying these adjectives, public transportation is a unique way to explore an area you may or not be familiar with in a new way from a different perspective. Another advantage to taking the bus/train/subway/elephant carriage is being able to¬†partake in my¬†favorite sport: people watching, the wonderful art of really opening your eyes to those more interesting characters. Take for example a man I encountered in Switzerland. He was an older gentleman who, in order to divert attention away from his exceptionally large bald spot, dyed his shoulder-length hair purple. Now keep in mind, we were in the Alps. He was wearing a pink belly shirt and skin-tight short shorts. With the addition of his visible nipple piercings, this may have been the most interesting man I have ever met. If you can’t find anyone interesting, you are most likely the one being watched. Then, take a step back and appreciate how individual some individuals can be.

28. Go on an adventure!
I’m a huge fan of the Disney movie Up. If you have a problem with that, you can take it up with my fist. The phrase “Adventure is out there!” gets me every time, and it’s really so true. The protagonist’s first adventure is an antique, broken-down wooden house, and look where he goes from there! There are so many little joys to observe and partake in in life, and they can sometimes be right in front of your nose. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a ‘little adventure’. Any true adventure is life-changing in its own regard.

29. Think about THIS.
We live on a planet, that, so far, is the only planet we know of that has complex life. We are one in over hundreds of billions of observable star systems, and we are special. You, you are special as well! You beat out millions of other sperm, so since before you were born, you were a winner. You are the result of amazing love stories and passionate ancestors. You are set, you have defied all the odds already. So why not defy them again? This time, by your own will.

30. Wake up with a positive attitude.

31. Grab a camera!
Go out and take a few shots of anything, literally anything. New photographers often think that you need something spectacular, a once-in-a-lifetime view or opportunity, but that is far from true. Photography has a lot to do with perspective, and there are unlimited examples of everyday, ordinary objects looking spectacular under a certain lighting and camera angle. But you don’t need any of that either! Take photos for the memories, and appreciate that we can save memories indefinitely in solid form, as opposed to relying on our bendable mental abilities.

32. Spend time with kids!
Children *are* our future, no metaphor about it. I mean, I’m 20 and I already feel like I’m falling behind of the newest generation. Pretty soon I’ll be referring to them as “whippersnappers”. It’s so important, though, that we influence them in a positive way, because they’ll be filling our spots when we’re gone, and they’ll be the greatest someday. Buy lemonade from them, babysit them, or instruct them, and then appreciate the unrestrained creativity that they possess. If you keep an open mind to them, it’s amazing what they can come up with.

33. Get in shape!
Your body is more than a mode of transportation for your head. It is a part of you, connected with your mind in an infinitely complex way. If you don’t believe me, just eat a fast food burger and tell me how you feel mentally within an hour. There are so many physical activities to enjoy, some requiring more people, and some that can be played by yourself. Work hard, and then kick back and take pride in your abilities.

34. Spend time alone!
Time with others can be golden in learning about the truths in life, but time by yourself can be just as valuable. Our subconscious (the part of us responsible for everything from emotions to bodily functions) is roughly 90% of our minds, and a lot of people agree that we could teach ourselves a lot. This might sound crazy to some people, but there could be advantages to relaxing at home on a Saturday night, even if all you do is watch TV. Now, obviously, don’t overdo that last clause; it might be even more productive if you spend some time meditating or reading.

35. Spend some time with your pet!
Let’s face it: human love sometimes falters. Even self-love may falter once in a while. But seldom ever does canine love fail us when we need it the most. Dogs love us unconditionally, and that can be just what we need when we’re feeling muggy and depressed. Petting your dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels. Appreciate your animal allies.

36. Teach someone a lesson!
Note: this does not have to be done through physical assault. Instead, try using words and teaching in a constructive tone. When we help others learn, we help them for life. That is a fantastic cost to rewards ratio, and it’s relatively easy. Just think about all of the teachers and lessons you’ve had throughout your life, and try not to be appreciative of at least one of them. ¬†Plus, you might just learn something about yourself when you help someone else out.

37. Root for someone!
For two weeks, the Olympic Games steal tons of viewership from other TV shows and even online streaming as people around the world take time from their daily lives to turn into crazed sports fans. One recurring theme is present here: pride. Viewers take pride in their nations, companies take pride in their contributions, and¬†athletes take pride in their abilities. We put our hopes into someone else, and even if we can’t actually be there, we take joy out of watching whoever we support try their absolute hardest and best in a global event. And you don’t have to root for your own country! Sydney likes to go for Lesotho. No matter the event, appreciate that you are capable of celebrating others’ achievements, and that others are capable of celebrating yours.

38. Go to a museum!
What, not exciting enough for you? If you’re looking for thrill, go skydiving or do #46. But if you’re looking to learn loads about one aspect of history, check one of these out. It doesn’t have to be the Smithsonian, or the Louvre; there’s plenty to gain from any museum of any type. Appreciate the content of the museum, and that it’s presented in a much more bearable way than a typical college lecture.

39. Sing/dance your heart out!
Passion is a huge part of what makes us human. When we truly express ourselves, we feel the energy of the entire universe empower us, and we are the most alive that we can be. When we are not afraid of what others may think, we are free to be 100% ourselves, not society’s expectations. Whether your moment is on the glamorous American Idol stage, or in the comfort of your own kitchen, just don’t hold back until all of your drawn-back energy is spent.

40. Clean up!
It’s undeniable that your surroundings have an effect on your mood. Cleaning your room or house can be like cleaning your mind. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a place they throw their mail or other papers when they don’t have time to look at it all. Eventually the junk piles up and it can become overwhelming, but if you take a deep breath and proceed calmly, you can get through it. Even if you don’t like cleaning, you’ll feel so liberated and more easily appreciate¬†what’s in front of you once it’s a fresh yet familiar sight.*

41. Learn something new!
I ‘m not sure if you liked it that much in school, but we all know that satisfying feeling when we have just the right piece of information for the situation. It’d be simply ignorant to say that we know everything there is to know, but there’s been simply an explosion in what our species as a whole has learned. And dude, it’s no longer uncool to be knowledgeable. Plus, there are some pretty helpful mentors out there. Try out¬†Khanacademy¬†or¬†TED, or that one friend who knows it all and find something that works for you.

42. Find beauty!
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” some say. Others claim that beauty is in the eye of society. Regardless of what you believe, you know what beauty is and what beauty feels like. Things that are truly marvelous, unique, and spectacular hold our attention, and inspire us to be our best selves. Whether you think a flower, song, gymnast, photo, person, artwork, sports play, firework, or other performance is beautiful, taking the time to find it can remind you of what you love about life.

43. Win at something!
Anything, really!¬†Beat your brother at chess, finish a game on¬†Kongregate, or top your own personal record in the pool. Take no prisoners! Winning a competition (even against yourself) feel good, and shows the progress we make in our pasttimes. No matter what you say, I’m sure you’re the best at something. Be proud of that!

44. Lose at something (to another person)!
You can’t win everything, right? Well you can’t lose everything either, so take time to cherish your losses. Okay, maybe not, but keep in mind that in order for you to be 1st, someone else must be 2nd, and someone else probably is 3rd, etc. Learn from your mistakes, grow from them, and in the meanwhile take¬†legitimate joy in others’ accomplishments. Appreciate that humanity as a whole has so many talents.

45. Go to camp!
No I’m not joking you, no matter how old you are. Ideally a whole summer, but if you can only spare a week or two, then go with that! Of course there are children’s camps, but you can also check out adult camps¬†here¬†and¬†here. There’s WAY more than the typical outdoors-nature kind of camp nowadays. The point is to leave your comfort zone, make new friends, learn more about yourself, and discover new facts, ideas, and opinions. If you’re like me and missed out on this opportunity as a kid, this is definitely worth a shot.

46. Light some fireworks!
No matter how great a live or televised fireworks show can be, I promise nothing quite matches the thrill of actually lighting a mortar yourself. Now, make sure to obey your local laws on fireworks, obey what nature is dishing out, and above all, be safe and reasonable when doing this. Keeping that in mind, let loose and grab a lighter!

47. Take it to the beach!
Science has proven what you already know: the beach is great for destressing! Researchers deem the water “blue space” – a term I think is awesome – and it has been shown to de-clutter your thoughts and bolster calmness levels. A clear and simple mind focuses more easily and makes better decisions. Plus, if you take photos, it’ll be easier to bring back that clarity when reminiscing about your trip. If you’ve never been there, the beach is an absolutely fantastic place, a land with its own smells, sights, and sounds.

48. Bury a time capsule!
What better way is there to appreciate life than to think about how it will be in the future and how it will touch someone else’s life. While burying some of your small treasures, you’ll have time to reflect on the memories they bring back. You can even invite friends and family members to join you in reminiscing. Buring a time capsule is like sending your memories into the future in hopes of creating new memories. It creates a feeling of generativity, and contributing to future generations is a great way to leave your mark on the world.*

49. Make a bucket list!
Well first off, if you haven’t seen the movie,¬†here¬†you go. I’m not sure where the term “bucket list” exactly came from, but I love the idea behind it (a list of things you’d like to do before you ‘kick the bucket’). All of us have places we want to be, things we want to do, that most would just dismiss as impossible. But as far as we’re sure (not trying to start religious debates here), there’s only one life to live, so why not actually plan these goals out? You can’t help but be reminded that you’ve only a single lifetime as you write this, and that can help you appreciate it.

50. Write a blog!
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have the capacity to do this. This, so far, has been such an eye-opening experience for me, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Over the past few years, I’ve taken so much out of blogs, and it’s so great to see it from the other side. I’m learning so much so quickly, and I encourage you to try it out as well.