What is appreciation? It has the same energetic effect as love. When you are in a state of appreciation you move beyond thankfulness or gratitude and actually recognize the quality, value, significance and magnitude of people, places and things. Put another way, appreciation is a feeling state, one that bubbles up from within and leaves you feeling expanded and joyful. It is impossible to be in a state of appreciation and to feel anger, frustration, annoyance, or fear.
I love the notion that what you appreciate…appreciates. When you focus on positive aspects and feel their value and magnitude, you put yourself on an upward spiral. You create a momentum that gains speed and energy and carries you to a state of hope, optimism, satisfaction and positive expectations.
Most positive psychology researchers tend to focus on the state of mind that they call “attitude of gratitude.” And there are significant benefits to this attitude, such as:
– Taking better care of yourself physically and mentally
– Improved mental alertness
– Feeling happier and more optimistic
– Having stronger immune systems
– Maintaining a brighter view of the future
I submit that when you move beyond the mental plane of gratitude to the active reflection and awareness that generates feelings of appreciation, you boost the intensity of these benefits, harnessing your own energy to move you into a state of positive feelings. And there is no doubt that those who live life on an upward spiral experience more success and well-being.
The best part of practicing appreciation is that it is fun. The payoff is immediate. Here are four strategies to get you started:
Appreciate the little things in life. Last winter we lost power for several days. No heat. No electricity. How many times did I walk into a dark room and automatically flip the switch only to remain in total darkness. I took a vow then and there to appreciate the things I take for granted. The lights go on, the room is warm, my car starts, my computer is humming along and the basement is dry. And I smile and say to myself, “Yes, life is good!”
Appreciate yourself. Do you take yourself for granted? By this I mean, do you dismiss the positive things you accomplish because they come easily or naturally? If this is the case, it’s time to own your strengths, recognize their value, and give yourself kudos for being you. From time to time, I will write a letter to myself from the perspective of my “higher self.” I will tell myself all the things I am proud of and why I am I loved and loveable. I put the letter in an envelope, put my address on it, seal it, stamp it, and give it to a trusted friend or family member with instructions to mail it when the urge strikes. Invariably, by the time I receive the letter I have forgotten about it, and sometimes I don’t even recognize my own handwriting! And I always get a boost when I hear from my higher self!
Appreciate others. Take the time to express your appreciation to those your work with, to your partner or spouse, with your family and friends. Expressing appreciation verbally is a very powerful gift. You have brightened the day of the receiver of your appreciation. You have uplifted yourself by putting yourself in an appreciative mindset. And it is likely that some of this appreciation will in fact spread to even more people.
Appreciate nature. Nature is all around us. And its beauty is bountiful. Even when you live in the city, nature is peaking through the buildings. The challenge is to actually see nature, to stop and look long enough to enjoy its surprises. Photography is a great way to help you refocus your perspective. It is a never ending source of wonder when I look at my photos on the big screen of my computer and notice things that I never saw when I was clicking the shutter. Imagine how much beauty and splendor we miss on a regular basis. Whether you use an mobile phone camera, a point and shoot, or a DSLR, challenge yourself to see the beauty that surrounds us always.
Remember: What you appreciate…appreciates!