The Compass Blog

Recovering the Now: The Value of Appreciation

Kelcy Fowler

On my first ever visit to Hawaii, I was on the island of Kauai, hiking the Pihea Trail in Waimea Canyon State Park. It’s an indescribably beautiful place. On that particular day, it felt like jumping into one of Burt’s sidewalk chalk paintings in that scene from Mary Poppins. Double rainbows, the cliffs they used as the backdrop of Jurassic Park, a crystal blue ocean that stretched on to infinity – it was magical. After a fantastic hike, we were heading back to the trailhead when we passed a lady who stopped us to ask, “Is there anything to see out there?” We looked at one another and tried to keep our jaws from dropping and from laughing out loud at the same time. “It’s a lot more of this,” we replied. And she turned around and walked back to her car. We were dumbfounded.

As easy as it was for me to see how out of touch that lady was on that day, if I’m being honest, and vulnerable, I would have to admit that I am that lady. Regularly.

A few days ago, one of my co-workers was telling me about reconnecting with a long lost friend, and all the twists and turns their lives had taken since they were last in touch. As she recounted to me the trials and difficulties that her old friend had gone through in the time that had passed, I couldn’t help but look inward at the small trivialities that often cause me to be stressed, irritable and to lose sight of all the good that is happening around me.

When I look at the day to day things that get me down, blue, grouchy, and I compare them to the actual adversity and challenges that people face every single day – well, to put it plainly, I feel ungrateful. That morning, my coworker said to me, “Gratitude is a Practice.”

I realized that she was more than onto something with that statement, and it pointed to me that I’m pretty out of shape when it comes to using my gratitude muscle, and I’d wager that I’m not alone.

We live in a fast-paced world filled with an increasing number of distractions, diversions, and priorities that can so easily pull us away from being grateful – or even aware of – the many gifts that surround us every day. Constantly checking our e-mail, our social media accounts, the news, waiting for that next urgent update, affirmation, the piece of critical information or the next crisis to fire up our adrenaline – all of it can so easily distract us from seeing and appreciating the wonders that surround us.

Today, I’m camped at the doorstep to one of my favorite wilderness areas, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I’ve spent my last two days off hiking through twisty canyons of sandstone and exploring parts of the monument I’ve never seen before. It’s been an awesome opportunity to get out and explore.

Last night as we were relaxing at our campsite next to a peaceful body of water in southern Utah, I felt myself getting that irritable itch. I was getting stressed out because of a work task that I needed to tackle and hadn’t yet started. I was getting pulled into that “everything-is-urgent, everything-is-important” vortex of distraction and ingratitude. My traveling partner reminded me that I was allowing a minor thing to distract me from appreciating the moment and my surroundings and that this might be a prime opportunity to get some practice in working that gratitude muscle. So I took his advice, and I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling more grateful already.

Something that tends to help me shift my perspective and flex my gratitude muscle is switching things up. Changing my day to day, doing something new, and most especially, visiting a new great place! Explore the new postings on CoolWorks to apply somewhere wonderful, and you could be exploring a great new place before you know it!

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