Appreciation and How to Ignite It!

“Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam formamus ideam.” Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. - Spinoza

Are you appreciative? Do you have to think about it? Do you ask yourself, appreciative of or for what? Let’s talk about it.

Often times, we as people allow ourselves to overlook all of the variables in our lives that allow us to be the people we are, where we are and who we are. In a world that seems to glorify “the haves” and glamorize “stuff” instead of substance, I can see why so many people aren’t as appreciative as they could be. In many cases, the glorification and glamorization blended together are so persuasive that even sensible people have the tendency to believe or replicate even the most unflattering of behaviors just to try and achieve the same or similar levels of “success” or “achievement”.  

“Whoever does not regard what he has as most ample wealth, is unhappy. Unblest is he who thinks himself unblest. what does your condition matter, if it is bad in your own eyes?” – Seneca

Those who are caught up in the “I need”, “I don’t have”, “I want” cycles fail to realize that the very issues that disturb them lie in their imaginations. There is great tranquility to be gained when you allow yourself to be present in reality; free of compulsion and imaginary obstructions. In spite of everything, what can be bought or given can also be taken away or lost. It is always a better practice to seek intrinsic opportunities for appreciation and ultimately happiness and fulfillment. You can have everything you seek once you’ve quit seeking the things that don’t matter.

“A clear vision of reality is torture to a vain imagination. Be sensible.” – Baltasar Gracian

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend and we came across the subject of being uniquely grateful and appreciative of each day and all that it has to offer. I believe this portion of the conversation began when I said to her that she should be grateful that she could even text me. What could have been lost in the context is what I really meant. For her to be able to text me, she would need several things that are easily overlooked. 1. She would need to be alive and well. 2. She would need to able to afford a cell phone. 3. She would need to be able to pay her cell phone bill. 4. She would need to have a job or income to afford her phone and bill. 5. She would need to have a friend she could talk to. The list could go on but I believe you see my point. It is a better practice to recognize our reasons to be appreciative while we have them than to realize them once they are gone.  

“Never let your imagination surrender to your heart. Many people seem great until you mingle with them, and communication leads more often to disappointment than to esteem.” – Baltasar Gracian

Appreciate the “simple things”. It has always been a good tactic, when seeking joy, to find pleasure in the everyday small victories and good moments. If you are ever given the opportunity to parent a child with special needs or early developmental delays, you experience this appreciation maybe a bit more frequently than the typical parent. As a parent, there is tremendous joy in recognizing and celebrating the "small or normal" achievements in your child’s development. As appropriate measures are taken and your child begins to show progress in their efforts, the smallest things are that much sweeter because expectation and opinion have been waived and it’s all about progress as it happens, if/when it happens. The “if” here is significant because it is the variable that takes expectation off the table and creates the largest gain when it is replaced by achievement.                                                                             

The cool thing about being appreciative is that if you look hard enough, you can find it anywhere. After all, each of us has the ability to change our attitude or concentration amidst any given set of circumstances. The human mind has a tendency to lock on to appearance more so than it does to reality. In other words, our tendency is to take things as they seem and not as they are. All of this is important when you consider that the way you think about things has the ability to transform itself in to reality and this transformation has the tendency to change and create positive energy.

Even in the case of loss there is opportunity to gain or find reasons to be appreciative. Did you catch that? In loss there is opportunity. Loss is nothing more than change and change is nothing more than an opportunity to gain understanding and choose a different direction to go in. It all depends on how you choose to respond. With life being the ultimate collection of events, memories and experiences, it is important in all times to be cognizant and appreciative of all the things we’ve been able to learn, withstand, accomplish in spite of, make more of with less, and the like. Recall and relive the good times/experiences and the bad ones, revisit the lessons learned and the mistakes made, then learn to dispel the notion that any experience is good or bad, and simply appreciate. Take pride in your mistakes in the same way you would your victories and don’t overlook the journey in between. To discover yourself is to learn yourself and to learn yourself is to be yourself. Be your best self every day by appreciating all that it took to get you to the end of this article and beyond.