"Appreciate." I said it all the time, but it was kind of like saying “thank you." It was an automatic response. Saying “I appreciate you” is not enough. When my world crumbled around me, I discovered that I had never actually been happy. If you were looking at me from the outside, you would have guessed I was on top of the world.

In my book, I discuss the 15 things that I had to change in my life to achieve “true” happiness. After this, I found happiness that was unimaginable, and I wanted to share those findings with everyone. First was to put God as my priority. I said it, but I didn’t do it. Another was to appreciate.

I figured out that many of the things I’d lost were completely because of a lack of appreciation. If you don’t appreciate someone or something, you’ll either lose them or you will never see their full potential.

My priorities changed completely. Although I appreciated money, I found my family to be more important. I also knew that I needed to make money because without it, we couldn’t survive. I had to figure out how to appreciate it and not worship it.

It felt a little strange at first, as I started telling God that I appreciated different things — all day long. I’d tell him “thank you” for things as simple as food, water, and a lane opening at Walmart, or my favorite shirt being clean. I’d thank him for my job, family, friends, and my home. After a little while, it became normal and felt right.

Appreciate God and all his blessings and they will overflow before you know it!

Live happy.

Rick Stanfield, a former Missouri State Trooper and entrepreneur who co-founded Sweet Henrietta’s Treats in Santa Rosa Beach, is the author of “I Can And I Will." He can be reached at rickstanfield1@yahoo.com.