Many of us rush through each day with too much to do and not enough time; one day flows into another and before we know it, another year has passed. In the day-to-day rush, it’s very easy to take things for granted and not fully appreciate and feel grateful for our life. To appreciate something means becoming aware of its real value, recognising its full worth.
When you really stop to consider the vastness of life, it’s hard not to be astonished, amazed and awestruck with what it is to be human. Starting with the oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and other atoms in your amazing body, which were first created in distant stars over 4.5 billion years ago; your body has many interdependent systems like respiratory, circulation, and digestion, that with modern medicine, could keep you alive for over 100 years.
You can be aware of thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and sense perceptions flowing through your experience. You can change the focus of your attention, use language to communicate and think, empathize with other people’s emotions, and build relationships.
You live on the third planet from the star in our solar system, which is the only planet in the solar system that sustains life. The earth is just the right distance from the sun, not too hot or too cold. If you’re lucky, you were born in a safe part of the planet, free from natural disasters and with a relatively stable economic and political environment. The chances are you’ve never been homeless or hungry for long and have enjoyed access to education and career opportunities.
In contrast, almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day and in the developing world, one in four young people is unable to read.
In a typical day, how much do we consider all this amazing stuff and really appreciate how fortunate we are in the big scheme of things? Feeling a sense of appreciation of what life has to offer in the moment changes our relationship to our experience. Even the most mundane object or situation expands with possibilities when fully appreciated. Oprah Winfrey has a useful quotation on appreciation, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Gratitude is found within all of the major religions. Recent research found that gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves their health, and builds strong relationships. People who practise gratitude are better at coping with the difficulties and are more likely to seek support from other people. They’re also less depressed, have higher levels of self-acceptance, and experience a greater purpose in life.
The links between mindfulness, appreciation, and gratitude are obvious. With awareness, you’re more likely to appreciate your thoughts, body, emotions and senses. You’ll also be open, accepting, understanding and kind with yourself and others.
By developing a greater sense of appreciation and gratitude, you’re more likely to value people, recognising their help and effort, humour, or friendly working style. By being grateful we send positive emotions out like ripples across a pond, improving our own well-being as well as the happiness of others we encounter during the day.
Find somewhere undisturbed and sit in a comfortable, dignified and upright posture, where you can remain alert and aware.
There are two guided practices for this session. You can close your eyes, or lower your gaze while the meditations play.
- Play the settling practice, then read through the session content, which you can print off if that helps.
- Then play the second audio to explore and experience appreciation and gratitude.
Suggested weekly practice
- As soon as you wake, see if you can bring to mind three things you can be grateful for, and before you go to sleep think of three things that happened during the day that you can appreciate with gratitude.
- Appreciate and feel grateful for the richness and vitality of being alive, from the wonder of your body, senses, relationships, and anything else you may take for granted.
- Actively practise appreciation and gratitude with the people you work with, appreciating how they work with you, the support they provide, and who they are as individuals. Without forcing anything and keeping things authentic, take every opportunity to express your gratitude at work and at home and see what difference this makes.
Share on Follow on