The Power of Appreciation
At this time of the year I often wonder if putting aside a single day a year for Thanksgiving serves us. I find that a life where I look for things to appreciate every day is so much richer and fuller than when I used to focus on that activity only on the 4th Thursday in November when Thanksgiving is practiced in the USA.
When we focus on things to appreciate each day many factors aid us in their discovery. The very way our brain is structured ensures that we see more of what we look for. This means that when we look for things to appreciate we see them – in our families, in our friends, in our communities, in our world and in ourselves. This one act, appreciation, is a very high emotional state that enriches the life of anyone who makes it a habit. Love and appreciation are so close emotionally they are hardly discernable one from another. A conscious decision to appreciate can lead to a life that is more wonderful than can be imagined by someone who has not done so.
While it is lovely to have a day that is focused on thanksgiving, to enjoy family, friends, and feasting; it is far more wonderful to appreciate each and every day.
What can be appreciated? There is so much. It is everywhere. Right now I can hear the birds singing outside. Their song is lovely. That takes me to thoughts of appreciation that I live somewhere that allows me to hear the sounds of nature. Right now my daughter’s puppy is nestled against my legs enjoying just being close to me – something she demonstrates daily. That brings me to thoughts about how her puppy wakes each day with enthusiasm and joy. She reminds me to awaken with that same amount of enthusiasm and eagerness for the day ahead.
My thoughts of appreciation turn to those closest to me, my partner, my children and my closest friends. There are so many aspects of them to appreciate. The warmth and comfort of my home is something I appreciate each day especially like now, when the sunshine is flowing through the windows.
Thoughts of appreciation invariably bring me to a conversation with a bank president I was coaching a few years ago and when I suggested a practice of consciously appreciating three things every day he asked (in the midst of the financial downturn), “Can I start with just one? It is rather hard to find three things to appreciate right now.” I responded by asking him if he had food on his table when he sat down to dinner the previous night. Of course, the answer was yes. Then I asked if he had a table that his plate sat upon. It becomes obvious that we are surrounded by things we can appreciate if we make that choice.
Our society has been trained to appreciate the “big” things. Things like our team winning the championship when there are so many things to appreciate on the way to the championship. Every game there is new knowledge gained, encouragement and supportive words are offered to one another. Skills are honed. Lessons are learned. Life goes on in the background of the game – babies born, relationships beginning or deepening; all of these have aspects to appreciate.
What exists in your life that you can appreciate? Make a decision to deliberately find at least three things to appreciate every day between now and the end of 2012 and see how different (better) your life feels. See how your relationships deepen and every day seems to hold more blessings.
This is not about wearing rose colored glasses. It is not that you won’t see something that is not as you desire it to be. It is seeing with eyes that look for the good instead of eyes that look for the flaws. Both realities exist and are accurate. It is the stance of the perceiver that makes the difference.
Some say it is not realistic to have a positive focus but let’s be real about that. If there is something, say a relationship, where 99% of it is working perfectly, brilliantly and beautifully but 1% is out of whack – is it realistic to look at 1% and assert that the whole is broken? Or is it more realistic to look at the 99% that is working wonderfully and believe that the 1% is something that can be addressed and does not ruin the 99% that is working.
Deliberately deciding to be in a state of appreciation does not mean you ignore and do not deal with things that need tending. It does mean you do not color your whole life with the outlook that because there is one thing wrong everything is wrong.
The 1%/99% can be applied to any area of life – health, relationships, career, home, body, vacations, etc.
We can enjoy the journey even when the road is bumpy and rutted if we make a decision to look for things that are good during the journey.
Many have been trained to see life in ways that make the journey far less enjoyable than it could be. The same journey can be heaven for one and hell for another – their perspective makes the difference.
Our programs are designed to make the journey not only more enjoyable but understandable. The journey to a better-feeling life can be easier than you’ve ever imagined.
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Please consider sharing this with your friends and family. You never know who you may help by passing it on. It is a random act of kindness that will ripple outward.
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