Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Appreciation is the key to happiness

For over a year, I have dedicated time to watch the sunset wherever I was. I initially took photos of sunsets only if I happened to be out at the right time. Eventually, I began to go for a walk outside to watch the sunset. I began to feel a great sense of joy bubbling up inside of me each time. I realized that there was something incredibly healing and empowering about watching the sunset. I wasnít feeling joy only from the beauty I was experiencing, but instead from the appreciation I was giving. As I watched the sky changing colors, the birds flying overhead, the boats passing along the river, the people walking around me, the wind blowing in my hair, and the church bells chiming, I began to feel a great sense of appreciation for the moment I was experiencing as well as the life I was living.

Me, My Heart, and I :: Appreciation is the key to happiness

During this last year, my level of appreciation has increased tremendously. I have always been grateful for all the important things in my life, but now I am also grateful for the little things. Every time I stand along the Arno or on one of the many bridges in Florence, I list off in my head everything I am appreciative for both big and small.

Sometimes it takes a loss for us to be appreciative of someone or something, but I now choose to be appreciative before experiencing a loss. I donít want to wait for something to be off-kilter to finally appreciate it as if by doing so I could retrieve it. I eventually discovered that the joy and happiness I feel right now comes from my fully embracing this very moment and appreciating it. I learned that being happy is a choice and that if I want to be happy, I have to create my own happiness, allow it to bubble up inside of me, feel it fully, share it, and appreciate it.

Right before the end of the year, I looked back to see where my path had led me. 2016 was definitely a year of great transformation for me. It started off strong: I stopped working as a technical writer, retreated back to living solely in Florence, and ended many relationships in my life. During this year, I also began to focus more on loving myself, caring for myself, nurturing my creativity, and making progress in my many writing projects. Whenever I lost hope or my faith began to waiver, I would go outside for a walk around my beloved city and throw myself into her arms. Every time, my fears and worries faded and my optimism and joy returned.

I realized that every time I watched a sunset, it was an opportunity for me to go deeper into my heart and to remember everything that I am grateful for. I not only bask in that special moment of the day, but I also fill up my heart with love and joy. I knew that the love and joy I felt didnít just disappear, but rather I closed myself off from it at times due to other external events.

Each sunset reinforces the sense I have that love is always all around me and itís up to me to open my heart and welcome it in. I am grateful that Florenceís constant flow of beauty, creative energy, and love encircles me because it reminds me that I have more and more to appreciate each and every day.

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