How Can We Appreciate Life More?

After last week’s question addressed death, this week we want to ask about the reverse: how to get the most out of our lives. A key part of being happy is to appreciate the pleasures and the joys of life.

In one respect, this should be easy, since there is so much of which to be appreciative. We live in a golden age, with greater knowledge about ourselves, about the universe, and about the world than we have ever had, as well as having increased ease of access to that information. In addition, we can travel just about anywhere in the world we might want to go, and food and goods from anywhere in the world can be delivered to our doorstep.

While money is important to be able to access these and other benefits of our society and income inequality continues to increase, it’s also true that more people across the world have been lifted out of poverty than at any time in human history.

On the other hand, it’s hard to appreciate what we have when we see all that we don’t. It is human nature to be constantly trying to improve our circumstance in the world, and that means identifying life’s deficiencies and striving to overcome them.

On top of that, it seems like we are surrounded with negativity. The ever-increasingly interconnected world means problems from other places take on greater significance at home. If news coverage is always focused on the problems of the country or the world, from natural disasters to war and political unrest, it can be very difficult to be optimistic about your life.

And yet, it is important for our own mental health, as individuals as well as collectively as a society, that we appreciate what we have. How can we do that, without losing sight of those less fortunate? How can we appreciate what we have without feeling guilty when there are people who don’t have what we have? How can we overcome the negative environment that surrounds us?

How can we appreciate life more? How can we focus on what we have and not on what we don’t?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life?What is the purpose of money?How can we maintain wonder?What does it mean to be thankful?What was the best time in your life?

How Do You Judge Yourself?

Many people in the workforce perform a regular job evaluation to judge how well they have done. Not as many people perform a personal evaluation regarding the other parts of their lives. When we are born, we don’t come with a job description, and so it can be difficult to decide who we want to be, and how to get there.

If you were to perform such an evaluation, what criteria would you use to judge yourself? Do you think you would judge yourself more harshly or less harshly as you judge others?

How do you judge yourself?

Related questions: How do you define success? What is important? How do you judge others? Why do we judge others?

How Can We Encourage Debate?

Having a healthy, respectful, robust debate takes more than simply having an opinion and a loud voice. If I make a list of what is needed to have a good dialogue, what would that list contain?

In an era of polarized opinions on a number of topics including politics, religion, health care, gun control, immigration, abortion, and several other issues, how can we have a debate in which opposing sides actually listen to each other?

How can we encourage debate?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? What is necessary to change your mind? When is doubt helpful? How do you know who to trust?

What Beliefs Do You Have That Might Be Wrong?

When I think back on my past, there have been times when I have been wrong. At the time, I thought I was right, sometimes quite fervently so. But then I got new data, or had new experiences, or heard a convincing argument, and so I changed my mind. My beliefs changed.

Logically, it seems likely that there is something that I believe right now that is wrong, although of course right now I think it is right. That’s true for all of us.

What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?

Related questions: What do you believe? What is necessary to change your mind? How do we know what we don’t know?

 

What Does It Mean To Be Thankful?

During this time of year, it is common to take stock of your life and think about things for which you are grateful.

But what exactly does this entail? Is being thankful a state of mind, or does there need to be a public display? Are there any actions or behaviors that are associated with thankfulness? If not, what is the difference between being thankful and doing nothing?

What does it mean to be thankful?

Related questions: How does appreciation enrich the individual? How can we turn ideas into actions? How are gratitude and happiness related? What do we have in common?