7 Ways to Grow Self-Acceptance and Appreciate Life

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams

Life will test you.

It will test your attitude. It will test your ability to appreciate that you woke-up this morning.

It will test your resilience and self-worth.

These tests are necessary however, and we can learn to “pass” them.

We can live with more fulfillment and gratitude as we embrace life’s tests as a necessary path to wisdom.

We can learn to see the bright side even when a dark storm cloud is looming overhead.

With intention and practice you can live with greater love, joy, and contentment.

Here are seven ways to grow self-acceptance and appreciate life.

1. Smile and laugh more often

Are you smiling right now? If not, put a smile on your face. Feel better?

Now have a little chuckle. Feel even better?

It won’t solve your external problems but smiling and laughter have a positive effect on your brain chemistry.

Research findings have shown that laughing produces “feel good” chemicals like endorphins and serotonin in our brain.

If you want to enhance your well-being, create more situations where you’ll experience humor.   

You can also improve your mood by simply smiling, since our body language and facial expression influences our feelings. If you want to boost your mood start to wear a smile.

There is a “fake it until you make” phenomenon at a play here. As you create laughter and build the habit of smiling, your brain will adapt over time to these patterns.

It becomes more natural the more you do it.

You don’t need to be a comedian to have a good sense of humor. Laugh more often!

2. Slow down, seek wonder, live in the moment

There is beauty and wonder all around us, but we’re often too busy to notice it.

As author Gregg Levy points out in his book Vital Signs, “… it’s easy to become “adult-erated,” and thus spoiled for the world, to lose the attitude of youthfulness, while the pleasures and enthusiasms we keep from ourselves turn to sorrows that eventually find their way to the eyes and mouths and set their heavy sacks down there.”

Don’t become “adult-erated.” Tap into your youthful essence and get curious about life.

Slow down and use your senses to be in the moment. Turn your attention to what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste in the moment.

Notice what you hear. Do you hear music, birds, traffic? Look more deeply at the scenery, the vibrant colors, and the creative expression all around you.

Feel your feet against the floor and the wind against your face. Take a few deep breaths and slow down.

When you get out of your head and into the moment, you’ll start to notice how beautiful and miraculous life is.

3. Permission to make mistakes

No one is perfect and mistakes are a part of life.

Drop the impossible standards and stop being so hard on yourself.

Mistakes are necessary. If you take positive risks, challenge yourself, and try new things you’ll make mistakes.

I’m sure you know this intellectually, but do you actually allow yourself to make mistakes?

Making mistakes is essential for learning and getting better. You don’t have to like it, just don’t be so hard on yourself.

Acknowledge mistakes as an opportunity for personal development. Don’t hold back from an amazing experience or great opportunity because you’re afraid to mess up.

It’s time for you to make more mistakes.

Here’s an exercise: Make a mistake today. Go do something out of your comfort zone that you don’t feel confident doing. Make a mistake and get more comfortable with how it feels.

4. Be a change architect

As the saying goes, “The only thing constant is change.”

Whether we’re comfortable with change or not, it’s a part of life.

Instead of fighting against it, learn to make change your ally.

Use change to your advantage and become a change architect.

A change architect has a vision of what can be created and built from the rubble. They traverse through change with their vision in mind, looking for opportunity.

You’re responsible for how you deal with change. If you want to make a change you can start to design it.

If you’re dealing with unexpected change you can choose how to use it and respond to it.

Be creative and ask empowering questions to help you navigate change.

What do I want to do with this situation?

– What do I want to create from this?

– What new opportunity could come from this?

– What can I learn from this?

5. Grow and use your talents, skills, and abilities

Many people stop growing after they’ve reached a certain goal or milestone. They end up feeling deflated and bored with life because of this.

Fortunately, we can acquire new talents and build new skills if we’re willing to put in the effort.

A concept called neuroplasticity shows us that our brains can continue to develop and adapt into old age.

Neuroplasticity refers to the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. As you practice and learn something your brain is changing and strengthening accordingly.

Keep your brain healthy and give your attention, focus, and energy to activities, information, and behavior that you want to reinforce.

We can continue to develop and improve our entire life, and make the second half better than the first. You can build new skills and abilities and live an engaged and active life.

6. The balancing act

You are a whole person. This means you are more than what you do, what you own, or who you know.

Learn to nourish the whole self. Balance body, mind, spirit, and relationships.

Do what author and speaker Matthew Kelly suggests in his book The Rhythm of Life. He suggests we schedule at least 15 minutes per day for self-nourishment in each domain.

It comes down to an hour of your time for greater self-acceptance and well-being.

Allot fifteen minutes to physical and nutritional well-being. Go for a walk or take fifteen minutes for physical relaxation. 

Make fifteen minutes for emotional health by spending time with people you love or doing something you thoroughly enjoy.

Schedule fifteen minutes for mental health by stimulating your mind and learning something new.

Dedicate fifteen minutes for your spiritual growth through meditation, prayer, connecting with nature, or whatever your flavor of spirituality consists of.

7. Dream again

Do you have a dream? Or have you resigned to a quiet life of desperation?

Chasing an inspiring dream is invigorating. It’s what gives life purpose and zest.

Without a dream we have nothing greater to strive for.

What is your dream?

It’s vulnerable and scary to dream big. You might think your dream is just a fantasy.

You don’t have to dismantle your life or be reckless to follow a dream.

You can realistically and responsibly pursue your dream and live a life you are inspired by.

To start, you have to be willing to dream again! A dream can be big or small, long-term or short-term.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or become, stop denying yourself. Acknowledge your dreams and start to grow into them.

We are meant to dream. Dreamers change the world. Don’t be ashamed to think big and bold about life.

Keep living, you’re a work in progress

Life’s not over until your dying day, so keep living.

Use these seven ideas to help you grow self-acceptance and fall back in love with life.

It takes intention and deliberate practice, so continue to gain wisdom and learn from your experiences.

Be grateful for the highs and graceful with the lows.

If you do, life will become a magnificent classroom to learn, play, and grow.

Photo credit: Alexander Shustov