Deep Gratitude and Appreciation
Some gives you a nice present. You are delighted and say so. You tell them how thoughtful they are and how grateful you feel. It’s a lovely moment.
Now if that person were to give you a similar gift every day would you remain as grateful or delighted? Probably not. You might even start to get irritated by it. Yet nothing has changed. In a moment you get a gift.
Why the change in response? Well, if, for example, the gift is always a vase, eventually you’ll get fed up with all these vases that are now in your home. But you’ll also start to expect the gift, and with that expectation and repetition, the surprise disappears, and you get used to it happening. The appreciation vanishes and the gratitude is replaced with annoyance.
This happens with just about everything we get used to experiencing regularly. Things start to become so normal in our lives that we don’t even really notice them. Your house, your car, your local train station, local shops, your fridge or freezer, microwave oven, bed, shower, and so on.
How would you feel if you wake up tomorrow morning to find they had all disappeared overnight. No shower, no bed – you woke up on the floor!
Along with the shock and incredulity you’d miss them all, some more than others, and some at different times of the day than others.
Now you appreciate them, because they’re gone.
Now think of the things that either matter most to you emotionally – probably family, friends, pets, maybe home or other places dear to you. Don’t we tend to get used to them too, stop appreciating them, and take their existence in our lives for granted?
There’s even more to it. Now think of the things you don’t really ever think about because you are so used to them. The things that are actually of most important to your life.
The availability of food.
Clean water to drink.
Fresh air to breathe.
And life itself.
Do you appreciate these things? Do you appreciate the fact that these things are available to you right now?
We usually don’t. We barely notice that we’re alive, rarely notice ourselves breathing, sip water (whether as itself, or as part of tea or coffee or a soft drink) without really being aware that we’re drinking, and totally expect food to be in the cupboard when we feel hungry.
So much that we have. So much that we take for granted.
When we take all these essentials and important things in our lives for granted we seek other things to satisfy ourselves, so we feel the lack of new things in our lives. Moreover we complain about everything that is not perfect in our lives, without in any way taking account of the fact that we already have so much that matters that we should be dancing in the streets with joy because we have all those things.
Our mind has massive blind spots when it comes to all the good that we have. And it has an ever bigger expectation that everything should be what we want, and nothing should be what we don’t want. As a result we ignore all we have, and are disappointed with anything that not perfect for us.
This makes us unhappy in the general sense of that word.
Appreciation is a gentle, positive feeling. We don’t have it anything like as much as we could or should.
Gratitude is a brighter, more intense and uplifting feeling than appreciation. We don’t have it often when we should have it all the time.
Appreciation and gratitude can come together to create joy, a very special feeling which we could experience very frequently, even daily.
I guess we’d all like to feel these positive feelings, and have them replace the negatives that we so often experience.
All we have to do is keep noticing our negative feelings when they arise. Accept them. Smile at them, don’t scowl. Then gently take your attention to something pleasant. The breath. A favourite item. Someone – or a pet - you love. The sunshine, even if it’s raining.
The logic behind this is straightforward. We have a bias towards being negative, and a mind that quickly takes for granted all that is good. These negative feelings make us feel unhappy or critical on and off throughout our day, throughout our life. So in order to change this unfortunate reality we need to counter all those negatives with positives. Therefore the more often we notice a negative and change it into gratitude or appreciation for something, the more we can start to turn around the way our mind is programmed.
This isn’t easy and doesn’t come quickly but the results do come. Also, don’t think this is a way to escape reality. This – the breath, a cup of tea, a pet – is reality, just as much, if not more so than worrying about the bills or feeling lonely. It’s a choice we can make – accept feelings that make us miserable, or create new feelings that make us feel good about being alive.