Appreciation In A Busy World
People have never been so busy. Demands for our attention, our dollars, and all our energies are at an all time high. More is the credo. New is the focus. Amid all the haste and bustle are we even appreciating life itself?
People are talking more and more about present moment awareness. Letting go of our past and ceasing worry for the future. But how do we manage to do that? The best way is to walk the path of gratitude and cultivate a practice of appreciation in our lives. Gratitude is the anchor that will help us. Being thankful for what we have can help with the constant escape from the present.
I have been invested in a gratitude practice for many years. Although not a perfect practice, it has transformed my life and attitude.
When our conditioned thoughts are more often on the negative side of the emotional spectrum we will need more time and effort to transition into a continually grateful state of mind. Even when our outlook is less than optimistic or jovial, developing more appreciation for life and our blessings is a fast way to feel something different. If we are generally in good spirits and positive, working on being consistently thankful may come easier. Changing and conditioning our behavior is tough, but making time for gratitude has been one of the easiest habits I have ever attempted.
What is a gratitude practice?
A gratitude practice is a process of developing ways to habitually show more appreciation for life. It is the building of awareness in the present moment and drawing ourselves back to how much we constantly have to appreciate during any moment. The practice can be as simple as saying thank you with all our heart for as many things as we can think of. We can also elevate the practice with a gratitude journal, and sharing things we are grateful for with others — spreading the attitude of appreciation.
Where do I start?
The Easiest Way: Something In Our Surroundings
Start small, and start right now. We can all look around and be thankful for something in our surroundings. Something that you would put great efforts or energy into attaining if you suddenly did not have it. Maybe your computer, or your device on which you are reading this? Maybe the lightbulb illuminating part of the room you’re sitting in. Maybe the clothing you are wearing. Once you find it, think deeply about what you chose, what you appreciate. Then feel gratitude, feel how thankful you are. Remember a time you said a heartfelt thank you to someone who gave you a gift, helped you or did something kind for you. That deep and profound feeling in your heart. That is how it should feel when we are practicing. You can even close your eyes briefly and say thank you under your breath. Whatever it takes to really feel authentic appreciation for the object of your choice.
Think and feel how much better your life is because of what you chose to be thankful for. Skimming over a blessing with a curt “thank you” and moving on is not a genuine expression of thankfulness. A gratitude practice is all about taking the time to deeply connect to one of the most powerful positive emotions available to our species. It is not about rushing to cross it off the list and moving on with our day. We must be genuine in the process. It should feel good if you are practicing right.
The Next Step: Essential Blessings
Gratitude is often most transformative when we become more aware of things that we are overlooking on a daily basis. Things like our clothes, the roof over our heads, our bike or car. Things that were once appreciated, but fell into our routine lives and no longer delight us. These material things are even beyond the truly essential blessings that are most overlooked by many of us.
A good example of this is our bodies. The simple ability to live and breathe takes innumerable chemical reactions and biological processes every second. We are hardly ever aware of these happenings and even less frequently appreciative of the gift of life we have been granted. No matter the state of our physical bodies, we have cause for gratitude. Maybe there are aspects that need work or change in regards to our bodies, but we can also be thankful for the opportunities to improve our health. When is the last time you felt deep and real gratitude for the physical body that houses your consciousness?
Another essential blessing that is so often overlooked in our culture is water. Turning on a tap and getting hot and cold water is amazing! Going to one of our modern supermarkets and being able to purchase water from pristine Fijian aquifers is mind blowing. The option to choose water enhanced with electrolytes and minerals or water at the optimum PH balance for our bodies. What abundance! In the affluent western cultures we are surrounded by water, and hardly ever thankful enough for it. Think about this and when you next drink some water and sigh a deep thank you after it.
There are many, many, many more essential blessings to our lives that we could appreciate more. My intention is not to tell you everything you should be thankful for, but to shine a light in the direction of appreciation and for us to all practice more of it.
Remember this will feel amazing when we are doing it right.
Deepening The Practice
After we notice more things to give thanks for and are feeling genuine appreciation in our hearts, we can take the practice further. Getting a gratitude journal and writing between 3 and 10 things down that we are thankful for is a powerful process. The best way to do this is to find as many new things as possible each time, and not to let this become automated and emotionless. It can be done daily, weekly, or monthly, but the greater the frequency the greater the benefit.
Another way to channel thankfulness is writing thank you notes. Taking the time to hand write (or even digitally write) a heartfelt note of appreciation to someone is just as beneficial for you as the recipient. Try it.
This is my first element in contributing to a larger conversation around increasing gratitude throughout our species. What I wrote is a very basic and simplified introduction to cultivating a gratitude practice, and elements of our lives that can use more appreciation. For the rest of my life, I am going to be undergoing the practice. I am looking to form a collective force for good through discussing it. I will provide more depth through tactics, stories, and actionable information in future pieces.
This is the first piece in the Depths of Gratitude my publication based on discussing thankfulness on all levels. It is also the 58th installment of Writing Wednesday — the practice that has now lead me to this point in my writing career.
Let me know what you think — I would be grateful for your thoughts and input!