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Any time that we make something in life feel like a problem, guess what? Life feels like a problem. This isn’t to say that things are only always magically perfect in an ideal world without pain, but what if it could be?
- What if there were a way to enjoy every moment or circumstance?
- Yes, even the challenges?
- Are we actually interested in that kind of solution, even if that solution only lasts a moment? (Chances are we’ll take ANYTHING to alleviate the pain of the moment, usually. And I recommend a healthy path to that.)
- And what if, moment by moment, and through practice, it lasted a lifetime?
- What would life be like, then?
As far fetched as it may sound, in just one minor shift of perception towards appreciation in a moment, our world and life can change. It sounds too simple and even trivial, but let’s investigate the option. While the focus of this article is on an individual, internal representation of the world and one’s experience, I’m sure that an eventual progression of this practice would have us living in a collective experience of appreciation and understanding of one another in humanity…eventually…maybe. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with one person at a time.
Let’s also start with a fundamental: the definition of appreciation.
It’s a matter of choosing to recognize, understand, and evaluate the worth of something or someone. As miraculous creatures, we have the power to recognize and assign a value to anything. We may not always see high value in a given situation or person but as the saying goes, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. That means we could shift our own perception so that we transform everything that we see into a treasure. Everything that we see as trash could actually have a higher value should we choose so. And that, my friends, is the magic of appreciation. This has the power to alter not only our perception but our entire biochemistry in the brain thus producing a wildly different experience of the world, changing our decisions, and ultimately, change our destiny. At least for now we know that we can change the moment. Again, where do we start in making that kind of change?
2014 turned out to be one of the most challenging years of my life in about 15 years; And I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that when things aren’t necessarily going the way that you want and you have no where else to turn, you tend to be forced to change the way that you are looking at life, or…you lose your sanity.
I’m thankful that this happened but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to wait for that kind of moment of emotional threshold in order to change everything. It takes a choice, and once you know that the choice is available to you, you can exercise that choice. You have that choice available to you. I’ll say it again. You have that choice. One more time, “You have that choice available to you to change the way that you view the world and it is for your benefit.”
Appreciation turned out to be the greatest lesson of 2014 and maybe in my entire life. This is the first of several blogs sharing 3 unique and powerful ideas about ‘Appreciation’. They changed how I consciously choose to view my world and I have to admit, I desperately wanted to see it differently (and that is coming from a guy who actually enjoys his life but you know, it has its moments). Don’t we all want to change how we see something because our own view of it is painful? Don’t we deserve to experience the best of life in our own mind; to see it in a way that fascinates us and motivates us to keep going as opposed to the harsh pain of an event or challenge? As Milton said, “The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Life is a matter of perception. By utilizing the most brilliant computer in the universe that we have direct access to, the human brain, we can alter just about anything, not the least of which is perception. It’s how we look at life that makes the difference in how things appear and feel. When we change the way that we see things, the things we see start to change. A HUGE question for most people is how to actually make that shift. How do we view life from a different angle so that we look upon it with peace, love, abundance, success, hope, clarity or pick the filter you’d like…
There are simple questions that we can ask ourselves to find the beauty, the lesson, the purpose, the emotion, and appreciation that we want to have in any particular event in life. Even just standing on a curb in a busy city in the cold rain, we can simply ask the question, “What can I appreciate about this moment?” When we ask an internal question, the brain seeks an answer. That’s about as simple as it gets. Ask and you shall receive. If we don’t get an answer of what we appreciate, it is likely because we have already trained our mind to block such answers. Our neural pathways are set and have been reinforced over time and it may be difficult to initially get that answer. You have to be open to wanting to receive that answers first of all. But also, this will let you know that this is the starting place for a practice of retraining the brain. If that question starts to frustrate you, you can come from the angle of creativity and ask, “If I could appreciate something from this moment, what would it be?” Barring a long discussion on accessing various parts of the brain, the first question will seek out an answer logically based on all the present information that we have from the past and present. The second question, though, gives way to creating something new and accesses another part of the brain. All you need to know is that you can ask the first question until you get an answer that you want or you can switch to the second question to create something you may never have considered. The art of appreciation comes in using the tools you have available to you in the moment, and you always have the tool of those two questions. (Or you can phrase them similarly however you like)
- What can I appreciate about this moment? (Analytical)
- If I could appreciate something about this moment, what would it be? (Creative)
- Or another variation of this would be to ask, “What appreciation can I create at this very moment to better understand and enjoy this life?”
I find that most people are not practiced in the art of appreciation. I’m not saying that as a judgement but as on observation. Wouldn’t you agree that when we are discussing important matters, emotional pains, or frustrations with someone, we can tell what a person’s current or even habitual thought patterns are? We can pick up on what the dominant focus is, what filters the brain might be using to sort out information and provide the emotional response towards something, and thus, creating an experience of the world and life. It’s vital to have control of our own view of the the world in our day to day lives and it would be important to consider how we are running our minds. It determines the course of every single outcome of a moment, a day, a year, and a lifetime. Think about it. How a person views the world, harsh or heavenly as they see it, comes from within. The experience is internal only and is individual. Any number of people can have a shared moment, but each person experiences it differently. Image actually is everything, but its the image in our own minds; not the image itself. When you hear the phrase,’Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ this is what it means. In the exact same way, your life is what you make of it; it is in your eye and your perception, in your mind and your focus, in your life and your appreciation.
I’d say give a practice; try out the questions in any and every situation. Look at the person in front of you or a stranger in the distance and ask the questions to yourself. Think about the food you are about to eat or the meal you just had and ask the questions. Feel through a difficult decision and ask the questions. If you find yourself up against a wall emotionally and need to turn yourself around for your own sanity, ask the questions.
If you want anything at all to change, ask these questions.
If you want to experience the magic of appreciation, ask the questions.
This is how you can learn to appreciate anything at all.
This is Sean, and that’s what Sean Knows.
“Appreciation.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appreciation>.