How AUTISM Helped Me DEFY the Odds! (PERSONAL)

๐Ÿ˜ฒย I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM!!!ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

I use to consider myself a very introverted person, very shy, and very set in my own closed routines. I was more of a thinker than a doer and more a dreamer than a leader. Can you relate to that? If not, can you think of someone in your life who was like that?ย ๐Ÿค”

Being diagnosed with Autism in 7th grade was probably the starting point for me, the point where I confirmed these ideas to myself about who I was: something was ‘wrong’ in my brain.ย ๐Ÿง ย “I have Autism. It explains why I feel the way I feel. It’s just something that’s a part of me; I can’t change it.”ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

But even at the time I remember feeling like I didnโ€™t want to be labeled like this. I saw the label before me with all its negativity, a label I needed to object and rebel from.ย ๐Ÿ‘Šย I saw the stigmas of this label becoming my reality, and once I started seeing it reflected in other people’s behaviors towards me it frightened me to the core!ย ๐Ÿ˜จ

I have vivid memories from school where I refused to accept new accommodations because of the new label. I was now being offered additional time on tests, opportunities to leave class to ‘cool down’, and every single time I refused. I was being treated differently. I hadn’t changed, but with my new label I had changed in the eyes of everyone else.ย ๐Ÿ˜Ÿย Has someone ever said something about you that you knew wasn’t true? Did you ever feel like you just wanted to jump on the defense and say: “That is absolutely NOT TRUE!”ย ๐Ÿคฌ

With my new label I was constantly reminded about my new-given identity: what I couldn’t do, what my limitations were, and what struggles I’d have the rest of my life.ย ๐Ÿ”ฎย Very little was I ever reminded about all my current strengths or what I could do. It was mostly the echoes from a set of diagnostic criteria.ย ๐Ÿ“–

In psychology, the term is referred to as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. In sociology, it’s referred to as the Labeling Theory. To put it simply: If a person holds a belief in their mind about someone else’s future expectations, the person will unconsciously help in influencing the other person into fulfilling those expectations.ย ๐Ÿค”

So for example, if a parent holds a child to very low expectations the odds are very likely the child won’t ever go past the ones the parent already set for them. They will only achieve the most minimal, the expectations set by the parent.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

SO FOR A LONG TIME I USE TO LET OTHERS DICTATE HOW I WAS GOING TO LIVE MY LIFE…๐Ÿ˜”

But then at one point I finally decided I was going on my own path. These past few years I’ve learned that everything starts with Me: I must take control of my life, how I choose to see it, and how I’m going to live it.ย ๐Ÿ‘

๐Ÿ“Œย Dale Carnegie explained it through his principles to Win Friends and Influence People.

๐Ÿ“Œย Stephen Covey said it with his Habit of Being Proactive.

๐Ÿ“Œย The Stoics taught it through their principles of self-control.

๐Ÿ“Œย The Existentialists shared it through the creation of meanings.

๐Ÿ“Œย Individuals like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. excelled it through their example.

It’s the power of helping OURSELVES FIRST before we start trying to help the rest of the world. It’s about taking CONTROL over our emotions rather than letting them and our environment control us. It’s about living our lives for a PURPOSE greater than just ourselves. It’s about a “dream”, a vision of a greater future for all of humanity. Most importantly, it’s about YOU DEFINING YOUR LIFE.ย ๐ŸŒŽ

What I’ve come to realize again and again is that my past does not have to equal the future. I’ve realized I am more capable than what any label or diagnosis will dictate.ย ๐Ÿ™Œ

Have you ever taken a personality test and it gave you a result you wholeheartedly believed in? “Congrats, you’re an INFJ!” The problem with these tests is they can tell you who you are NOW. But they don’t tell you who you’ll necessarily be in the FUTURE. We can change as well as mentally evolve. It’s a part of who I may be now, but it’s not the final destination!ย ๐Ÿ›ฃ๏ธ

I’ve realized that I ultimately will define Me, not someone else, not a test, and not a set of diagnostic criteria. Otherwise I keep a fixed identity for the rest of my life…nah!ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

So this year I’ve been on a mission to Transcend Labels. I am showing the world what’s possible, to show others how to look beneath the surface, past the labels, past the stereotypes, and to see each other for who we all are.ย ๐Ÿ‘ฅ

I truly believe when we do this we’ll start seeing the humanity within each other, see each other as human beings, and see that we are all more alike than we like to believe. With that not only comes greater understanding for our neighbors but most importantly an unconditional love, because the realization comes: “That person is also Me.”ย โค๏ธ

I see lasting change in the world happening through the individual from the inside-out, not the outside-in. I believe that the better we can be for ourselves, the better we can be for others.ย ๐ŸŒŽ

Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Everyone has an opinion, but there are fewer people out there who ever set the example. Will we be the next examples?!ย ๐Ÿ‘Œ

I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM; AN EXPLANATION, BUT NOT THE DESTINATION!ย ย ๐Ÿ’ช

I hope this resonates with many of you. I would appreciate it if you could share this post with others, whoever you believe will also benefit from these words. If there are any additional areas I can add value to your life as well as in the blogging community, please let me know!ย ๐Ÿ™‚

My areas of expertise include:

๐Ÿ‘ย Detail-oriented, Thoroughness

๐Ÿ‘ย Quality-over-quantity Focused

๐Ÿ‘ย Analytical, Systemic Thinking

๐Ÿ‘ย Emotional intelligence (plus 10 years in Customer Service)

๐Ÿ‘ย Social media, Building Engagement

 

With lots of gratitude,

Donald “Ace” Arteagaย โค๏ธ

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How Words Have POWER!

โš ๏ธย YOUR WORDS HAVE POWER!!!ย โš ๏ธ
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I recently watched a Danish movie called “The Hunt” starring Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale”).ย ๐ŸŽฌย And it was ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING!ย ๐Ÿ˜”
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No, the film wasn’t bad at all! It was actually a great film! It just was not an easy film to watch.ย ๐Ÿ˜ซย It’s a film that asks some really tough questions about the power of mob mentality and mass hysteria.ย ๐Ÿ‘ฅ
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It shows how groups of people will jump to rash assumptions and conclusions about someone rather than gathering all the facts.ย ๐Ÿค”
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With our society’s current Outrage Culture where feelings and justice can matter more than facts and accuracy, this film points out a problem still needing to be addressed.ย ๐Ÿ‘
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The movie tells the story about a quiet man living in a small rural community in Denmark.ย ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐย He’s recently become a preschool teacher, has a small set of drinking buddies, and has found a new girlfriend. After recently separating from his wife, his life is starting to look uphill.ย ๐Ÿ˜Š
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But then a lewd lie is made up about him. At first, it seems absurd to the man that people actually believe the lie rather than him, a person who the community has known for a very long time. But the lie takes on a life of its own.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ
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Soon the whole community has jumped to the worst conclusions about him. He is fired from his job. His new girlfriend leaves him. His best friend shuns him. He is physically assaulted trying to shop in the local store.ย ๐Ÿ‘Šย Suddenly, even more lies are spread. He is eventually charged by the police, but all the charges are soon dropped because of no evidence. Nevertheless, the acts by the community escalate into greater threats and physical violence against him.ย ๐Ÿ’ฅ
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Remember: we are aware as an audience member this man is 100% innocent and all the rumors and continuing allegations made against him are 100% false.ย ๐Ÿ‘ย Yet, everything that happens to him in the film started with a single lie. Even the person who told the original lie eventually admits she was lying. But even then, she is not believed!ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ
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The community would rather hold onto the lies of this false narrative than face the fact they were condemning and harming an innocent man.ย ๐Ÿ‘ค
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It’s a devastating film, not just seeing this man’s life crumble, but also in thinking how eerily similar issues like these echo in our own society. How often have we heard someone make an accusation online or in the news and we automatically assumed it was 100% true?ย ๐Ÿค”ย How often have we not taken the time to remember there’s 2 sides to every story and didn’t gather all the facts before coming to a conclusion? I have, so I’m not pointing fingers here. I’ve done it too!ย ๐Ÿ‘
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And don’t get me wrong, some accusations do in fact turn out to be true. We find out the details, we gather all the evidence, and we confirm its validity or not.ย ๐Ÿ‘ย But there’s also others, like with this man, where accusations turn out to be grossly false. Despite them being false, the damage has already been done: an innocent person’s reputation is left for dead, and no repercussions are to be had for the original accuser.ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ
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In the Court of Law it is “innocent until proven guilty”. But in the Court of Public Opinion it has become “guilty until proven innocent”. The problem is we don’t want to follow the same path the characters in the play “The Crucible” did and start accusing our neighbors we dislike of being witches.ย ๐Ÿ‘‰
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It is these false cries where a person’s life can be ruined based on accusations and narratives which aren’t true. It is these false accusations which do a great disservice to the accusations which are in fact true.ย ๐ŸŽฏ
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It’s why I continue to emphasize it’s SO IMPORTANT whenever we hear or read anything that we separate the Facts from the Story Created Around the Facts. Take a news story: you don’t read 100% facts. You read a story which is set around a set of facts the journalist provides you. You can read more in my post here:ย https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156091492785964&id=509935963
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But I’m not here to dwell on the problem. I want to provide solutions as well. There is hope!ย ๐Ÿ˜
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๐Ÿ“Œย Drop your cynicism for skepticism. Cynicism jumps to predetermined conclusions about people regarding self interest and malicious intent. Skepticism starts from nothing. Cynicism wants the truth to be black and white, clear as day. Skepticism wants the truth to be whatever the truth is, no matter its complexity.
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๐Ÿ“Œย Question your emotions. Our emotions filter our decision-making. When we’re angry, we’re more likely to lash out and throw out accusations by the handful. One question to ask yourself: Does this emotion serve me in the present moment? Be sure you are using your emotions and not letting your emotions use you. Develop your emotional intelligence.
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๐Ÿ“Œย Consider our common humanity. People make mistakes. People say things they regret. People lie. People mature and aren’t the same people they were decades ago. And if you can’t relate to any of those things, I’d ask if you were a human being. I don’t say this to justify what someone does. It’s to acknowledge our shared humanity with other people. It helps gives you a clearer focus on the situation, supplemented with the Superpower of Empathy.
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๐Ÿ“Œย Be wary of group mentality. There’s a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people are in groups, where they collectively become a microcosm of shared beliefs and actions. Individuality gets lost and people conform to whatever the group does. It’s the reason a group of harmless people can start a riot, even if others never went in with the intention to.
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While it’s easier to summarize a person’s entire existence based on narratives and a few labels, you simultaneously box that person into a Filter of Perception of which everyone else is now going to be seeing that person.
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The big question though: Is it really true?ย ๐Ÿ‘ค
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There’s a reason Don Miguel Ruiz had one of his Four Agreements be: Be Impeccable With Your Word. Words have the power to create as well as destroy. The problem is they’re more often today used to destroy than for any form of creation.ย ๐Ÿ‘
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That man in the film, no matter how many times he could say he was innocent, could no longer be seen the same way again by his community because of the labels laid upon him, despite there being no evidence at all for the labels.ย ๐Ÿ˜”
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But here’s the catch: No one is played in the film for a caricature. Everyone has reasons for why they do what they do. Like the characters who spread the lie, they genuinely believe others need to be aware because their fears says the lie is true. Their collective need to believe something did in fact happen overrode their ability to critically think.ย ๐Ÿ‘ฅ
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That’s why developing our self-awareness is so important, so we don’t give into our irrational emotions and simply go along with the crowds. Because at times the crowd will be dead wrong. As the philosopher Kierkegaard said: “The crowd is untruth.”ย ๐Ÿ‘
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Of course, there are people in the world who have in fact done bad things. There are people who are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt and should be rightfully held accountable for their actions. I’m not denying that. Justice should be rightfully served.ย ๐Ÿ’ฏ
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But this post today was about addressing the elephant in the room.ย ๐Ÿ˜
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๐Ÿ“ย This post is not about the thirst for social justice but about the injustice that happens to the innocent because of this thirst.
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๐Ÿ“ย This post is not about accusations but about the negative consequences for a society where falsehoods can easily be thrown around without repercussion or personal responsibility taken on any side.
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It produces a culture of victimhood, one which a civil society crumbles under because of the very thing it continues reinforcing: blame.ย ๐Ÿคฌ
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But again, I also have hope. I believe with any form of destruction there must also come creation. I wholeheartedly reject nihilism. I continue looking for the best in humanity because more often than not I will tend to find it. Because I believe what will save us from ourselves…is our best selves.ย โค๏ธ

Why Setting the Example MATTERS!

Have you heard the saying “actions speak louder than words”?ย ๐Ÿ’ฌ

It’s because your actions say more about who you are as a person than the words you use to describe yourself.ย ๐Ÿ‘ค

๐Ÿ“ย Someone can say “I’m always on time”, yet their actions show otherwise.

๐Ÿ“ย Someone can say “I’m really good at this game”, yet their skills show otherwise.

๐Ÿ“ย Someone can say “I am a nice person”, yet how they treat others shows otherwise.

I myself can make claims about who I am. But if my words don’t match my actions, you will notice.ย ๐Ÿ’ฏ

So instead of spending time saying who you are, it’s far better to spend time simply being the person you wish to be, being the example.ย ๐Ÿ™Œ

๐ŸŒŸย People don’t follow the ones who call themselves “leaders”. People follow people.ย ๐ŸŒŸ

Why Self-Care is CRUCIAL!

๐Ÿ›‘ย ๐™„โ€™๐™‘๐™€ ๐™ƒ๐˜ผ๐˜ฟ ๐™€๐™‰๐™Š๐™๐™‚๐™ƒ ๐™Š๐™ ๐™‰๐™€๐™’ ๐™”๐™Š๐™๐™†!!!ย ๐Ÿ›‘

It was only 3 hours ago the clock hit noon.ย ๐Ÿ•›ย But I had already made the decision: Time for me to head out of New York City, and time for me to head back to my AirBnb in New Jersey to call it quits for the day.ย ๐Ÿ‘

Have you ever had a moment where youโ€™re in the middle of something and the realization hits you that you are BURNED OUT?ย ๐Ÿ˜ชย That moment hit me this morning!

I had gone back into the city to do some more sightseeing, and then…

๐Ÿšงย ๏ผข๏ผก๏ผญ๏ผ ๏ผฒ๏ผฏ๏ผก๏ผค๏ผข๏ผฌ๏ผฏ๏ผฃ๏ผซ๏ผ๐Ÿšง

I had been ignoring the messages my body was trying to tell me the past day.ย ๐Ÿ“ฌย But now they had reached the surface of my mind and it became clear as day: I needed to rest!ย ๐Ÿ˜ด

Reminding myself of the marathon tomorrow, I knew this was the best option. While you bet your bottom-dollar Iโ€™ll be at the starting line tomorrow, I canโ€™t be there with less than a half-tank of gas!ย โ›ฝ

๐ŸŒŸย ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ% ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐๐จ๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ% ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž!ย ๐ŸŒŸ

So, Iโ€™m taking some Me Time the rest of the day. To introspect. To refocus. To be present again with my thoughts, away from the excessive noise of the city.ย ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚๏ธ

To be fair, Iโ€™ve heard over a couple dozen cars honking outside my window as I write this but itโ€™s better than nothing!ย ๐Ÿ˜…

If thereโ€™s one thing Iโ€™ve learned traveling so much is you need to make sure youโ€™re taking care of yourself.ย โค๏ธย When you travel, you are stepping outside your regular routines, adapting to your new surroundings, and that will take time. You may even at times be required to simply improvise.ย ๐Ÿ˜…

๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฆ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ’๐ซ๐ž ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐ซ๐จ๐จ๐ฆ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐๐„๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐ฃ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ƒ๐Ž๐ข๐ง๐ .ย ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚๏ธ

Thatโ€™s why Iโ€™m back at my AirBnb now. ๐’๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฐ ๐š๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐œ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐๐„๐„๐ƒ ๐ข๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐š๐ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐–๐€๐๐“.ย ๐Ÿ›‘

I got to tell you: it can be the greatest form of self-love you give yourself today!ย โค๏ธ

๐Ÿ›‘ย ๐™„โ€™๐™‘๐™€ ๐™ƒ๐˜ผ๐˜ฟ ๐™€๐™‰๐™Š๐™๐™‚๐™ƒ ๐™Š๐™ ๐™‰๐™€๐™’ ๐™”๐™Š๐™๐™†!!!ย ๐Ÿ›‘

Now that Iโ€™m giving myself the time to introspect, Iโ€™m able to take a step back and reflect since I arrived here. Iโ€™ve had some great moments in New York so far, especially ones with local friends of mine.ย โ˜บ๏ธ

But even more, Iโ€™ve experienced many opportunities for growth. These may also be referred to as โ€œproblemsโ€, but they only remain problems so long as you donโ€™t grow from them.ย ๐ŸŽ

As much as I may not have initially enjoyed experiencing these things, Iโ€™m grateful I did so I could learn from them:

๐Ÿงณย Not knowing how to fit my luggage through a trainโ€™s turnstile

๐ŸŽซย Not knowing how to purchase bus tickets

๐ŸšŒย Getting on the wrong bus, wasting a bus ticket I bought for another

๐Ÿ’ธย Rode a bus which only accepted cash and all I had was my credit card

๐Ÿ‘ฃย Not anticipating how much Iโ€™d use buses, trains, and my 2 feet to get around

๐Ÿฆตย Not anticipating how much my leg muscles would be aching after a single day

Perhaps some of you, my urban-dwelling friends, are reading this list and laughing at how trivial it sounds.ย ๐Ÿคฃย I donโ€™t blame you! I was raised in the quiet suburbs of Chicago most of my life, so I understand how silly these will sound to some.ย ๐Ÿ˜…

But this post isnโ€™t about throwing a pity party or talking to you about first-world problems. Itโ€™s to remind you that while we may at times purposefully take on goals which challenge us, like running a Marathon, weโ€™re always going to run into goals we never planned on taking on.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

๐ŸŒŸย ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐œ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐จ๐ง ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ, ๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐š๐ซ๐๐ฅ๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ข๐ญ๐ฌ โ€œ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฏ๐ž๐ง๐ข๐ž๐ง๐ญโ€ ๐จ๐ซ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ.ย ๐ŸŒŸ

And our willingness to take on the goals we didnโ€™t ask for is where the greatest opportunities for growth will come in!ย ๐Ÿ‹๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ

And so I lay here, in my AirBnb bed, thinking about all thatโ€™s happened. I smile looking back on it all, how my mind initially magnified those โ€œproblemsโ€, how I was aware my mind was magnifying them, and how I focused on solutions nonetheless. I look back and laugh.ย ๐Ÿคญ

๐Ÿย ๐๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎโ€™๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ง๐ข๐ฌ๐ก ๐ฅ๐ข๐ง๐ž, ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ฅ๐จ๐จ๐ค ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ž ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฉ๐š๐ข๐ง ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐š๐ฅ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐ ๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐ญ๐ž๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ.ย ๐Ÿ

Soon after, youโ€™ll be asking yourself: โ€œSoโ€ฆwhatโ€™s next?!โ€ย ๐Ÿ’ช

How We Can LOVE More!

“If I ever forget to mention how much I appreciate you being in my life, how you’ve helped me become a better person, this post is for you.ย ๐Ÿ˜Š

I may not always show it. I may not always say it. I may only show it in the smallest of gestures. I may only say it in the briefest of words.ย ๐Ÿ” 

So it’s why I write this post to share with you now. If I haven’t told you today, yesterday, or any day that I appreciate you in my life, let it be known now.”ย ๐Ÿ’ฌ

Let’s pay it forward right now!ย ๐Ÿ‘

๐Ÿ“Œย Tell someone how much they mean to you.

๐Ÿ“Œย Share with them why they’re important in your life.

๐Ÿ“Œย Let them know the qualities you admire in them.

๐Ÿ“Œย Acknowledge what they’ve done to help you become a better person.

๐Ÿ“Œย Explain about how different your life would be had you never met them. .

Lastly, tell them to spread the same message to one of their loved ones, friends or family.ย ๐Ÿ‘ฅ

Let this become a chain reaction of appreciation and gratitude!ย ๐Ÿ™

While we all get caught up in our everyday lives, staying busy and working hard, it’s easy to forget the Little Things, the connections that make us all human.ย โค๏ธ

Some people in this world have not heard appreciation from someone in a very long time. Perhaps you’ll be the first one to make it happen!ย ๐Ÿ˜Š