Peeling Back the Layers of Appreciation

What is appreciation, really?

I recently pondered on this and realised my understanding of appreciation was quite shallow – based on either material gain, pictures of success and/or pandering to please and keep others and myself happy. Examples of things I have ‘appreciated’ from this perspective include:

  • How quickly I could type and complete a task for another
  • How tasty and visually well presented a meal was
  • How clean I kept the house
  • The financial support or material goods I received from others
  • How much money I had
  • The visual appearance of myself or another.

While the points in the above list are not necessarily things to not appreciate, I have come to feel that appreciation based solely on the tasks and material outcomes can feel ‘void’ because:

  • It can occur with no discernment of quality in which an act was received; for example, a meal may be well presented but prepared in resentment or anger.
  • In some cases, I have used this superficial form of ‘appreciation’ to avoid feeling what is going on. For example, being in an unpleasant situation but saying to myself or thinking, “Hey, I should appreciate that. At least my situation is better than another’s somewhere in the world!” Or wanting to ask someone how they are because they do not seem themselves but instead only commenting on how nice they look!

This prominent focus on end results means that when things are not going so well, it feels like there is little to nothing to appreciate in life, which could not be further from the truth (please read on below). This can be disempowering as it does not support us to honour and celebrate ourselves and others for who we truly are, or life for what it is truly offering.

What I am now recognising is that the true beauty of appreciation is marked in the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly. For example:

  • The delicateness, tenderness and warmth I can feel in my hands
  • The ability to sense my eyelids closing over my eyes
  • The gentle rhythmic way a baby (and even I) can breathe
  • The understanding I can bring to a situation without judgement
  • The qualities in others that I have much to learn from.

Appreciation has also grown to embrace all niggles, tensions, conflicts, illness and un-ease that I may feel in life. Where in the past this was something to curse, or pass the buck to another through blame or anger (and sometimes I still fall for this), my awareness has now expanded to the beauty in feeling when things are not OK, and the opportunity it offers to honestly acknowledge the choices I make that contribute and the alternate choices I can make next.

The niggles and tensions also draw me out of any comfort or ‘burying my head in the sand’ behaviours that arise when there are things in life that I am not wanting to see or address. Particularly when I am unwilling to accept full responsibility for the way I live in the world and the power and potential of what I can contribute through true choices and movements.

For example, am I moving my body in a way that honours and appreciates the delicate and deeply sacred woman I am and the potential within me to reflect beauty and godliness to others? Or am I being hard and disrespectful in my movements, shutting myself down and out from others? Am I feeling myself at a cellular level, the connection I have with everything and the deep holding and support that is always there?

This is without demanding perfection, for my imperfections offer me the opportunity to feel, appreciate and connect to my qualities more deeply, surrender to support from others and let go of striving for the perfect picture of how life should look – all of which are tangibly felt, well before any doing or achieving has occurred.

Appreciation for me is now opening up to be a quality of movement that is deeply surrendered to the fact that everything is energy and that no trying, pandering or pleasing is required to truly appreciate.

By Susan Hayes, Ballarat, Australia

Related Reading:
What is a Relationship with Myself?
Appreciation in What I don’t Have
What is the Science of Appreciation and…

631 thoughts on “Peeling Back the Layers of Appreciation

  1. What a wonderful insight Susan, that we “appreciate” the outer things often to not be honest with what we are really feeling especially if something is not quite right. We then set ourselves up to not have a solid foundation to cope with the challenges of life. I am very good at appreciating the outer, in fact I would say I have mastered it but resistant to appreciating what delivers that — the innermost that brings that forth.

  2. I’m realizing that when I come to appreciate I sometimes tend to seek just the things that I do well. There are areas that I may give more importance than others. For example, having a steady job may seem more important that emptying the dishwasher but what I find here is a wonderful revelation. What truly matters is how we are in our daily life, there are no tasks more or less important, love embraces all, holds us to bring our essence wherever we are in whatever we do.

  3. thank you Susan, you make a very good point here.. that is connecting to the movement of appreciation when you have messed up so to speak… This is a great strength we can discover. To bring ourselves back to who we are (quality) and not to identify ourselves with the negativity (who we are not). A beautiful learning.

  4. Appreciating the first list is a start when one is coming from constant criticism or dissmisal of what is amazing in ones life. The next being the appreciation of the qualities we can move in that are part of our essence (or not, but then the awareness is worth appreciating)

  5. Thank you Susan, your words about how we move and keep our body open to ourselves and others were very supportive, “.. am I moving my body in a way that honours and appreciates the delicate and deeply sacred woman I am and the potential within me to reflect beauty and godliness to others? Or am I being hard and disrespectful in my movements, shutting myself down and out from others?” Appreciating ourselves can be in the very way we move, connected to all we are and caring for ourselves in a way that allows us to continually express our qualities.

  6. I know I have commented here before but I am deepening the understanding of just how important deepening our appreciation of the impact we have on life is. If you take time to consider the ripple effect of the way we move, a whole world of responsibility starts to open up that gives us a sense of purpose and an understanding that we each make a difference in and have an impact on life no matter what our role.

    1. That’s what I felt this morning Lucy, the impact of me choosing to move in delicateness and sacredness is a responsibility but also something to deeply appreciate, what I bring to the world by ‘only’ moving in this quality.

  7. ‘What I am now recognising is that the true beauty of appreciation is marked in the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly.’ Absolutely the quality in which we move gives us the end quality, and when we truly appreciate that, we move with more grace and purpose.

  8. ‘…my imperfections offer me the opportunity to feel, appreciate and connect to my qualities more deeply, surrender to support from others and let go of striving for the perfect picture of how life should look…’ You provide me much more insight than I ever have go to myself, there is so much more to value from myself and my life even when it is not going well.

  9. To come to see so clearly that there is so much to be appreciated in the “niggles, tensions, conflicts, illness and un-ease” that arise often in our lives is a definite change of perception. In fact, I have found there is often more to learn in this seeming ‘adversity’ than in other times of my life. If when presented with something I begin to squirm, or feel uncomfortable in any other way, I know that I am being presented with a truth I am actually ready to hear, even though I may be initially resisting it.

  10. Just today I was having a conversation about appreciation and what would happen if we appreciate our bodies more when we were suffering from illnesses and aches, and pains. So, instead of the internal dialogue of trying to shift the ailment and feeling annoyed at the body, what if we were to celebrate that our bodies are giving us this opportunity to clear energy from our bodies and give us a healing.

  11. Susan, I love your examples of true appreciation, these are very beautiful; ‘The delicateness, tenderness and warmth I can feel in my hands’, ‘The understanding I can bring to a situation without judgement’. Reading these I can feel that we can always feel appreciation of ourselves and others – this can be a daily way of being, rather than something that is reserved for a rare occasion.

  12. “My awareness has now expanded to the beauty in feeling when things are not OK, and the opportunity it offers to honestly acknowledge the choices I make that contribute and the alternate choices I can make next.” This is something Susan that I am becoming more aware of, so that I am less likely to go into the fixit mode because I perceive it as something that needs fixing because it is wrong.

  13. Something I’m learning to recognise and appreciate more is the ripple effect of the way we live; as in the impact we have on everyone and everything around us according to how we are living. In this I can appreciate the magic in how we are all interconnected and the difference we can make just by the quality in which we live our life…

  14. When all feels lost and hopeless, appreciation is the key medicine you need to reach for. Nothing can turn a situation around like a dose of true appreciation, even for the simplest of things. It is a deeply nurturing activity that brings us all home to the love in our hearts.

  15. Thank you Susan – for it is the truth ! We often dont want to feel the power that we need to bring and live as it requires us to let go of old (comfortable) ways and movements that do not suit us truly anyway. Yet had greatly invested in them.

  16. I so agree – there’s no trying, pleasing or pandering in appreciation, it is about surrendering, and its deepening quality opens up more space for more appreciation then some.

  17. ‘For example, am I moving my body in a way that honours and appreciates the delicate and deeply sacred woman I am and the potential within me to reflect beauty and godliness to others?’ This made me ponder Susan and to feel that yes to a certain degree I do, but it is there for a short while and then I walk away from it and I know it can be there all the time when I choose to live in the rhythm that appreciation truly is.

    1. As humans we have championed a way of moving that is so far from honouring the delicateness that we actually hold in our bodies. Our bodies have learnt to adapt but is that really evolution? As I peel back the layers I am starting to understand that I have done more damage to myself by subscribing to the ‘I can do it all’ mentality.

    1. Go for it Vicky because appreciation is like having a party with God, we appreciate and confirm all that we come from as souls and as a part of God, and all that is expressing through us from where we come from.

  18. What is actually appreciation, I am starting to ask myself? What is it about us, or me even, that I prefer everything over appreciation of myself? Why do I find it hard to appreciate myself? And what is it about appreciation that I seemingly try to dismiss and avoid? Could it be, that there is something about appreciation that makes me expand that I at times find quiet uncomfortable and too much responsibility? And if so, can I look at my life and my level of appreciation from there, and see that it is not something I can not do, but simply something I avoid from activating as it will bring out more of my power? Ah ha, now that is a whole different ball game then for me to look at. What is your reason ?

  19. Until very recently I would never have considered appreciating the things that I classed as having done wrong, an illness or injury, a bad experience and so on; the ‘negative’ list is very long. I would have never considered that at those times I was being given an opportunity to learn a lesson and to see people, life and its events with different eyes. But today I appreciate these moments as much as I do the amazing ones as there is always something for me observe and ponder on, and maybe become a little wiser from the experience.

  20. When we start to make a point of appreciating ourselves and what’s going well, we realise that life is actually amazing in what it offers us – we are constantly being offered opportunities to expand, deepen, grow and connect. And the more we appreciate, the easier it becomes to accept this, accept ourselves, and embrace life and all that it brings.

  21. I used to think showing appreciation was about telling people how well they have done something or how beautiful they look, but I now realise true appreciation is about the qualities people offer and who they are.

  22. What you say Susan on focusing on end results to be able to appreciate something is so true. It keeps us in the doing cycle, need to keep doing to be able to appreciate something. when in fact there is so much richness to life and ourselves in the space between all of our doing that well deserves much appreciation.

  23. ” For example, am I moving my body in a way that honours and appreciates the delicate and deeply sacred woman I am ”
    This is so important honouring that in truth you and us all have a divine expression.

  24. I love that question… am I feeling myself at a cellular level …. now that’s a stop you in your tracks question.

  25. Appreciation is the fuel we want to tank our car with, as opposed to lack of appreciation which leaves our tank exposed to all sorts of things coming in, for example, self-bashing/criticism, judgemental, comparison, jealousy, greed and the list goes on….

  26. I love this understanding on appreciation; ‘What I am now recognising is that the true beauty of appreciation is marked in the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly’. I can feel how much appreciation flows when I am connected to my natural and divine essence.

  27. ‘Appreciation for me is now opening up to be a quality of movement that is deeply surrendered to the fact that everything is energy and that no trying, pandering or pleasing is required to truly appreciate.’ I love this reminder. I love these moments, it is like I allow myself to bask in the fact that everything is energy.

  28. I am struck by something in the first paragraph that jumped out and hit me square in the face! That is the things that you have associated with appreciation are related to “material gain, pictures of success and/or pandering to please and keep others and myself happy”. I totally agree but I also appreciate just how much I have changed to appreciate the smashed picture, the loss of enormous amounts of material possessions, and some very difficult emotional and physical situations. Looking back now I can see how nothing is ever a punishment, it is an opportunity to see how I got there, to look at the momentum that got me to that space and that event. Each and every time there is the most extraordinary path that I had blundered through seemingly unaware. I can see this is a moment to appreciate the rhythms and cycles in the Universe that support us to come back to a more loving and natural way of living.

  29. We as society have a quite shallow view on the things we appreciate. They are about the things we do, or have done or about the things we own or we get. Rarely do we appreciate our qualities or even our essence. Appreciate our essence? What is that?

  30. ‘This prominent focus on end results means that when things are not going so well, it feels like there is little to nothing to appreciate in life, which could not be further from the truth.’ And with this focus on end results comes a judgement, I know this myself and it is still something to work on, to honour my feelings and see the value I bring where ever I am.

  31. Letting go of protections is what supports us so much to allow space to appreciate and love. It is so simple that we can not walk around it, it is such divine real and inescapable truth. Thank you for expressing this.

  32. Oooh – I know that polished outer appearance that provides a veneer underneath of less than loving thoughts, words and deeds which have been playing out. Nice is often the style I’ve played this out with and over time I’ve learnt it’s a poisonous combination. It allows the status quo to continue unchecked, it confirms a normal that can be quite shocking, and sugar coats all manner of behaviour that keeps us all small.

  33. It has taken me quite a while, to appreciate that appreciation comes from feeling and connecting with the quality in your body, rather than thinking about what you appreciate. It is important to note what you observe but I am finding the appreciation that actually changes the way I feel is just clocking exactly how I feel, which when I let myself feel that deeply often takes me by surprise. I get ‘Aha!’ moments of that’s what delicateness or steadiness feels like and it means so much more than my intellectual understanding. I can then deeply appreciate what that means about the way I live and the impact I can have on those around me.

    1. Yes.. feeling a sense of appreciation within is so different from an intellectual concept of appreciation. Appreciation as a feeling feels expansive and connected to everything else and there’s a lightness and a flow in our bodies. The intellectual version feels a bit flat and lifeless.

  34. I like how you pondered on the meaning of a word. Very few of us do this and really we could gain a lot by looking a bit deeper. Unimedpedia: http://www.unimedliving.com/unimedpedia is a great resource for this with an ever growing list of words. I often find out when I ponder a word it is much easier to get clear about what it does not mean than what is truly means or represents.

  35. There are such opportunities to learn significant amounts from everything in life. The more we appreciate, the deeper our understanding.

  36. “Appreciation has also grown to embrace all niggles, tensions, conflicts, illness and un-ease that I may feel in life”.
    There is a deep healing that occurs when appreciating that disharmony in all forms is offering us the opportunity to understand our part in whatever is presenting to us – from within the body, from other people or in situations.

    1. When we don’t just accept but also appreciate all the niggles, irritations, things that don’t go to plan, there is room for expansion through simply being open to seeing things differently. It’s not about being blinkered and dishonest and pretending not to be annoyed when we are, but surrendering to when things don’t go our way, or when we don’t feel comfortable, and appreciating the lessons and learning always on offer.

  37. You have explained very well why when a destination of perfection is sought and we are not there yet, then there may be less to appreciate. Why put a limit on appreciation? Why put an end result to Life when every moment counts and the process is so precious?

    1. Yes- making life about the end result and the reward of the next moment, is a way that we short change ourselves by missing out on the beauty of being in the moment.

  38. ‘ What I am now recognising is that the true beauty of appreciation is marked in the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly. ‘
    Great expressed.
    It is in our movements where we can bring our appreciation, the way we place the cup on the table, the way we speak can be full of appreciation in our body.

  39. “Appreciation for me is now opening up to be a quality of movement that is deeply surrendered to the fact that everything is energy and that no trying, pandering or pleasing is required to truly appreciate.” Great article on appreciation something that has been difficult to bring into my life with any consistency, But when I do my life changes so much, when I see there is so much to appreciate and this brings a lightness and a joy to my life

    1. I love what you have written here Jill because I also can feel how the appreciation can change our lives and brings a lightness, and this a feeling that all is right with the world no matter what is going on for us. Sometimes I have an appreciation for another where it feels like I can burst and feel so blessed for having them in my life.

  40. Thank you for supporting me to understand appreciation more. I now see that I have appreciated my life, because I have been open to what life is offering me. Although it is sometimes not very pretty, it is always an opportunity to go deeper into what is being communicated.
    I appreciate myself for that.

  41. “This prominent focus on end results means that when things are not going so well, it feels like there is little to nothing to appreciate in life, which could not be further from the truth”. This is the ‘normal’ way to view life and is great to unravel. Why do we see our outcomes as all there is – why do we not see it as lessons? There is so much to learn from here.

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