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The Art Of Appreciation

Dermot Mc Donough
Jun 18 · 4 min read

Def: Appreciation-: a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude

In this New Age, Self Development World we live in, you here this word emphasized enough.

But what does it mean to be Appreciative?

First, let’s look at what it is not.

I could list a whole litany of definitions as to what it entails to appreciate or be grateful but I will start with the exact opposite of gratitude. That is taking things for granted or lack of appreciation.

I sit here and am writing this article on 3 different devices; my phone, iPad & laptop. Now I don’t give that much thought. I have them at my disposal. Yes, I did buy them and yes I did work to earn the money to buy them. So I don’t have to feel guilty about that. But also I am one of the lucky ones. Not many people on this planet have access to a phone, iPad or even laptop. In fact, the majority of people on this planet don’t even have running water.

Taking it for granted

When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I have a lot to appreciate. The things I take for granted would be absolutely huge for a person in the 3rd World. The amount of food we throw out in a day, could feed a hungry family for that day and even more so. We throw kids toys in the dump and the only thing that is wrong with them is that the kids have grown out of them. A less fortunate kid in the 3rd World would be so delighted with even a fraction of what we throw away.

I was born and spent a good part of my youth in ZAMBIA. I have seen poverty, people struggling to attain the basic human needs of food and shelter. Street kids who live in a storm drain, AIDS orphans. The fortunate ones might get into an orphanage. Forget foster care as even other living relatives abandon them, as with no welfare system, they can hardly afford to feed themselves.

Less can be more

Oddly enough, these people smile, laugh and are some of the friendliest people on Earth. They have nothing but appreciate everything. They would literally take the clothes of their back to help. We in the West have everything but appreciate nothing. We would cross to the opposite side of the street if we saw someone in difficulty.

Gratitude Vs Appreciation

All the Self Help Guru’s are encouraging us to practice gratitude, to be grateful for everything, from sunrise to sunset. At a cognitive level and with daily practice that can become a daily habit. Every morning you can open the curtains and sing “Oh what a beautiful Morning” or some other ritual. However how much meaning does it have for you? Routines and rituals, as good as they are, can become as automatic as getting dressed or brushing your teeth.

When you do open those curtains and sing “Oh what a beautiful Morning”, do you really take a look and appreciate just what kind of feelings you have about the morning. Do you take in what you see, smell, hear, taste, feel. Do you really appreciate the day at an emotional level? Does your heart expand with the love of life? So ask yourself another question, are you honestly grateful it’s morning or would you rather crawl back into bed? To tell you the truth I’d appreciate my bed a lot more, especially if it is a cold winters morning.

How to truly appreciate.

It’s true we do take life for granted. We just expect things to be there for us. We have air to breathe, love, each other, seasons, weather, nature. All of this is given freely. In our modern rat race days, how many of us actually stop and just notice, what we do have — for free.

Take any of those things away and we will very quickly notice there absence. We will feel appreciation then, especially when they are gone. At that stage, though it will be too late. You ask anyone who has broken up with a partner, lost a job, got sick or even when someone has died. You suddenly realise and see as clear as day, just how much you took for granted.

Many people on their death beds, talk of regrets of things they didn't do whilst they where alive. This is not Bucket list stuff like climbing a mountain, but the simple things in life. Like appreciating what they had. The family and Love of them. Spending more time with them. Giving them more attention. Being more loving.

Protect what we have

We are living in a very precarious time. We have abused, taken for granted and not appreciated our planet. Extinction is at a level high, global warming is at crisis levels, climate change has affected the whole planet. Yet we still drag our feet. Yes, we do our small bit, like recycle, just to clear our conscience,

When it is gone, will we appreciate the enormity of our arrogant stupidity as a species? I fear more for my children and the generations to come. They have a lot of work to do to save our planet. I do pray that they appreciate what they have more than what we have.

If Only, isn't an excuse

There is no point waiting until it is gone. We have to learn to appreciate what we have now, and what we could just lose if we take it for granted. Each other, our planet, our existence.

To be grateful for anything, we have to appreciate it first and foremost otherwise we are just paying lip service.

Thank you for reading, if you would like to leave a comment please do so on my website.

Have an awesome day

Dermot Mc Donough

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Dermot Mc Donough

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I am from Ireland, married with 2 sons. I’m a Recovery Coach. My goal is to help people stay sober by highlighting risks they might encounter in early recovery.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +479K people. Follow to join our community.