Build on what you have

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing:  it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” -Voltaire



We all want things we do not have.  It might be a job, a relationship, a house or an automobile. The same is true when we have a challenging task that needs to be completed. Part of us might wish that the whole situation would disappear because we do not think we have what it takes to get it done.  While harping on what we do not have can be very tempting, it does not generally get us any closer to our goal.

I was working with a student who had an essay to complete.  She was required to write two pages and had only completed a very rough outline of her ideas.  From her perspective, arriving at two pages was going to be a herculean effort.  It seemed that what she had and what she wanted were very far apart.  Thankfully, with a little guidance, she realized that she was further along than she had been believing. When we used her rough outline, adding only a few more details to each point, the essay quickly took shape.

While it looked to this student as if a two-page essay was going to take a great deal of extra work, a teacher could see that she was more than halfway there.  This is often how it is with life.  We judge what we have as insufficient or unworthy, and then attempt to hide it away.  We fear that if others see what we have then they might judge and criticize us.  When we hide, we push away the very people that might be able to help and encourage us.

Within everyone there is greatness.  We all have the potential to create something wonderful in our lives.  The trick is to start by appreciating, rather than diminishing, what we have.  This often involves looking at things in a new light and holds particularly true in areas of our lives that we have previously been judging ourselves as being not enough.  While some might think this is being overly optimistic, it is actually the most practical approach we can take to life.

If you are facing a situation that feels overwhelming and the things you want seem far away, take a moment to reconsider your position.  Make a list of all the positives you have going for you.  By taking the time to stop thinking about the old story, even if it is only for a few minutes, you will feel relieved. You will open up to fresh energy and inspiration that will carry you further than worrying and complaining ever will.  As you open up to a new perspective on your situation you will be delighted by all the ways that life will rush forward to support you on your way.


Edward Biagiotti is the inclusion specialist for Culver City Unified School District.  For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to:



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