With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, we thought we'd focus this week's journal on the art of appreciation. More profound than simply an expression of thanks, appreciation involves a deep emotional awareness around what we have, and a desire to focus more on that bounty than what may be lacking.
We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the external expression of our lives – comparing ourselves to others and yearning for more. However, what if we applied that same way of thinking to our gifts, prioritizing our needs over our wants, and recognizing the abundance that is already present? Even amidst hardships, by consciously practicing appreciation, we are more likely to feel better and experience improved physical health in return.
A study in 2009 found that by practicing appreciation for several weeks, we can actually establish it as an ongoing cognitive habit. In other words, if we focus on happiness, we can manifest happiness. If we focus on trust, we can create more trust. And if we train ourselves to be appreciative, the benefits of that behavior go into effect the moment we begin to value what we have. From something as simple as inhaling the soothing aroma of fresh coffee in the morning to reciting daily positive affirmations upon waking, these acts spark an energetic shift capable of altering perceptions in our minds, emotions and lives.1
There are many ways to cultivate appreciation. Among these practices include treating ourselves to a day of self-care, writing a letter to someone who's made an impact on us, or making a vow to tell our family and friends something we love about them every day. In this heightened state, the little things add up to big things, and observing both our environs and the people in them with fresh eyes can be rejuvenating.2
Of course, there’s also meditation. A mindfulness practice of only 10 minutes per day allows us to slow down enough to truly see our surroundings, ultimately helping us recognize what we have more fully. Over time, meditation helps to heal our past, instill a sense of inner peace, and inspire a vision for our future.3
So, as the holiday season approaches, let's take stock of the riches in our lives and make a commitment to appreciating them. Even amidst life challenges (and we all have them), we can use the power of appreciation to promote acceptance, perspective, and joy for ourselves and for those around us.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Volatire