Practicing appreciation

There are two steps to practicing appreciation –

  1. Noticing something that deserves appreciation
  2. Appreciating it

We’re not taught how to appreciate things. We generally pick it up from someone around us who does it. It is not that we don’t want to appreciate things. Many of us, at some level, understand that appreciation matters, But, the act of doing so feels awkward. We are stopped by questions like – “Will this make this situation awkward?,” “Will I sound unauthentic?”

Here’s the issue – most people go through their lives feeling little appreciation. We live in an age with a lot of material wealth but little mental well being. It would be foolish to blame it all on a lack of appreciation but a few consistent good words go a long way in lifting people’s minds and spirits. Appreciation is the grease that helps families and teams function better. It has the potential to make days and change life.

The biggest challenge with practicing it is simply doing it. Appreciate something today. Then, do it again tomorrow. As you keep doing it, you’ll notice a lot more that deserves appreciation. And, suddenly, you’ll realize that virtually everything around you deserves a word of genuine appreciation.

The best part about this practice is that there are two beautiful side effects. First, as you learn to genuinely appreciate others, you learn to appreciate yourself. The act of doing so builds our humanity and, somehow, makes us feel better about ourselves.

And, second, the act of doing so fills us with gratitude because it helps us not take things for granted. Trading expectations with appreciation is one of the surest signs of the presence of happiness.