Life is filled with challenges. There are many external circumstances outside of your control. The weather, actions of others, the economy, and politics are just a few examples. However, your response to these circumstances is completely within your control. You chose your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Two people can exhibit completely different reactions to the same situation. One person will successfully deal with the circumstances, while the other becomes enmeshed in negative emotions. Unfortunately, it is more common for people to focus on the negative instead of the positive.

How you view your life influences your mindset. A positive view creates a positive attitude, while a negative view leads to a negative attitude. People with a positive attitude are much better at coping with stress and challenges.

Although there are many factors contributing to how you react to situations beyond your control, one of the most significant components is whether or not you appreciate what you currently have in your life.

Those who truly appreciate all of their blessings feel as if they have more than enough. Conversely, people who constantly focus on what they believe is lacking continually feel they never have enough.

Taking all you have for granted is too easy because you get lost in negativity. Not appreciating what you have until it’s gone is too common. Air, water, and food are ignored when plentiful. Yet, you surely appreciate any of them which are in short supply.

Think about how the quality of your life would suffer with the loss of any component you may be taking for granted. This approach also helps you keep things in perspective. Throughout the world, there are too many people struggling to acquire all of the things you may be taking for granted.

No positive aspect of your life is too small to appreciate. Each and every day must be cherished. Begin each day by reviewing a list of everything you are thankful for. Start by appreciating that you woke up. Appreciate what you see and hear. Appreciate the food you eat. Appreciate where you live. Appreciate family and friends. Look in awe at the seemingly endless miracles in nature.

Life is not a contest. Don’t compare yourself to others. Someone who seems to have more does not diminish what you have. Also, there are numerous examples of people living very spartan lifestyles who are happy and content.

Appreciate your ability to control your thoughts, emotions, and actions. You are not a victim. You decide how to respond to circumstances. You can find solutions for problems, or you can find problems in every situation.

Decide beforehand to have a positive response to whatever circumstances you encounter. A response is preplanned and thought out. A reaction, on the other hand, is spontaneous and emotional.

A positive response should always be appreciated because it enables you to find the best course of action, while keeping you calm. A positive mindset leads to greater happiness and reduced stress. Your positive attitude generates positive emotions.

Appreciate humor and its wonderfully beneficial effects. Humor boosts your immune system, relieves pain, produces endorphins, reduces stress, and stimulates many internal organs. Humor clears your mind and helps you feel better.

Look for the humor which exists in most situations. There is usually some funny perspective in the circumstances you encounter. Humor is a great coping mechanism, not insensitivity. The more you laugh, the more you’ll appreciate the good in your life.

Develop and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for appreciating all of the good in your life. There is no positive aspect of your life too small to appreciate. You’ll be happier and healthier while increasing your enjoyment of life.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.

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