Lately, I’ve been reading about appreciation. The phrase “I appreciate you” is often used by my dearest friend. I’ve witnessed the impact and weight of these words on those she blesses with them. Where I might say “Thank you” (powerful words, but so commonly heard), she says, “I appreciate you.” It causes the receiver to pay attention and feel the depth of it. It’s a practice I’ve started myself.
Appreciation is also vital to many areas of mind and heart-based practices, and that is what I wanted to share today.
Mind and Heart-Based Practices of Appreciation
1. Appreciation of the little things in life – rain after many days of sun. Sun after many days of rain. Following the “shelter in place of 2020”, I appreciate the ability to go back to work. I appreciate the kindness of people who mean it when they ask, “How are you?”.
2. Appreciation of the bigger things in life – I appreciate the front-line workers in grocery stores, our healthcare and emergency service workers, the bus drivers who delivered food to kids at the bus stops, etc. I appreciate that we are in a country where we can effect change through constructive discourse and our right to vote.
3. Appreciation of the physical – I appreciate having a car that runs well. I acknowledge that I am blessed to have a vehicle when many depend on public transportation and are isolated or are dependent on others for transportation. I was there and felt fortunate to have lived in a city where I could take a bus or walk to where I needed to go.
4. Appreciation of health – I love to read and am grateful for the ability I have to learn from an educational standpoint as well as a physical one. Technology has made it easier for those with eye problems. I’ve worn contacts or glasses since my last years in high school. I wasn’t keen on the bi-focal stage but have loved my progressive glasses.
I acknowledge that my body can’t do some of the things I could when I was younger, but I don’t give up on exercise, proper nutrition, and the importance of a good night’s sleep. These are all things we can be appreciative of in our lives, and that can lead to feeling abundance.
5. Appreciation of our ability to choose our thoughts – we get to choose “appreciation” or “dissatisfaction.” When it comes to our words with others and ourselves – we determine the word choice. Will I remain positive, or will I give in to negativity? For me, meditation and prayer help “flip the script.”
If I am feeling low, I will spend some time focusing on my breathing, observing my inner state, and closing my eyes for a few minutes. I may say a prayer or recite a mantra. It’s like hitting the reset button on your computer when it’s acting wonky or is frozen.
When I open my eyes, I feel that I have shifted my reality and can move forward with positive intent. Does it always work the first time? That depends on the situation; however, by taking action to make a change, I am aware of the present moment and have shifted my mindset.
You can go back to meditate more, get up and do something physical, journal, listen to some soothing music, and think about what is going on in your life that lights you up. That light can clear out the darkness of the moment.
Ways To Find Appreciation
Where do you go to find appreciation when in a whirlwind of chaos? Start by taking an inventory of what you have inside and out. Here are just a few ways to get there:
1. Meditation – Using whatever method of stilling the mind that works for you – hold the intention of knowing your spiritual, mental, and physical assets. Focus on your breath and repeat your intention – then wait. Spend as much time as you can, and when done – write down what came to you.
2. Writing – Grab or create your gratitude/appreciation notebook. Journal your thoughts. List what you know are your tools and strength-builders. Read back over some of your previous journal entries. If you practice affirmations – read them aloud and write down any new ones that have come about due to your present circumstances. One of my favorite authors in the realm of journaling is Julia Cameron. Here is one of her tips on writing as an inspiration.
“Writing is the act of motion. Writing is the commitment to move forward, not to stew in our own juices, to become whatever it is we are becoming. Writing is both the boat and the wind in the sails. Even on days when the winds of inspiration seem slight, there is some forward motion, some progress made.”
—Julia Cameron, from The Right to Write.
3. Observing Nature – The simple act of focusing your senses. Put your mind on mute and take advantage of your silence to hear the world around you. Appreciate the unseen – the trees breathing out oxygen, the buzz of the bee who is busy pollinating plants that will eventually produce vegetables and flowers, the trill of a bird greeting the new day, and the gentle breeze playing a song on a neighbor’s wind chimes.
4. Call a Friend – For perspective, for a warm voice, for someone who will not judge your thoughts as you play them out, for someone who will stand by your side, and for the opportunity to rise together in understanding.
What is Abundance?
According to the dictionary, the definition of abundance is “a large amount of something.” It’s a straightforward definition. When I worked in bookstores, I remember the incredible popularity of a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Check out what she says about abundance.
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend…when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present——love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure——the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.”
—Sarah Ban Breathnach
I have a magnet on my refrigerator that I look at every day. It says
“Rich is not how much you have, or where you are going, or what you are…..Rich is who you have beside you.” Jack I. Kohler II.
For me, this is key – In times of financial lack or abundance, I still go back to the relationships in my life – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers for what makes me feel “rich.” The numbers may ebb and flow – but the substance is solid, even when it is in the form of memories of loved ones who have died.
One of the lessons I learned through personal loss and from years of working in the hospice world, is that grief is hard, and it may take time for the sharpness of pain to lessen, but we always have a real and lasting experience in the lifetime of memories of the love/friendship we shared.
Make the most of your relationships – with loved ones, friends, pets, co-workers, clients, and everyone you encounter in your daily walk. Your appreciation of them will enrich your life and will be a gift to them.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Photo credit: Omid Armin on Unsplash