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…

698 thoughts on “Peeling Back the Layers of Appreciation

  1. I am learning to appreciate the simple things of life through my mother who now needs care and does not get out very much. I love that due to her restrictions her life has become much simpler and it has allowed her to appreciate the things we tend to take for granted like the colour of the sky or the beauty of the scenery when we go out.

  2. We sometimes do an exercise of appreciation at the dinner table – where each person has to share a quality about the person sitting next to them that they appreciate. It cannot be something they do, it has to be the detail of the quality of how they are. Such as the warmth that a person brings, or the joy and playfullness etc etc. This makes it a different ball game to appreciating the things we have done or do for each other and takes it deeper to the core qualities this person is bringing for all to feel and grow from.

  3. Susan this is gorgeous what you have shared here for appreciation is multi-layered – there are those basic foundational things that can be appreciated – such as having a roof over our head or good food to eat, and then there is the appreciation of a job being done. But if we leave it at that, we leave out the most deepest and most precious part of the appreciation which is all about the qualities (the qualities of how something was done) – as you have so beautifully shared in the blog.

  4. “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” – to be able to see this beauty, is definitely something worth appreciating for.

  5. Most of us dislike the tension and niggles we feel inside… but, I find these niggles keep me real and don’t let me get too far away from who I am. They can be like a loving pull up from a parent or elder that asks us to come back and take a deeper look at what is going on.

  6. We are not brought up or taught to appreciate ourselves and what we bring to the world, for many of us this gets crushed from an early age. From then on it’s all about what we can achieve, so the word appreciation becomes an alien word or concept.

  7. I have been finding recently appreciation to be a movement more than just something you say. Words alone are empty but when you feel and clock the quality of your movements in life then appreciation is a Livingness not just nice words.

  8. Great point here about movement and a way of openness and appreciation of oneself and others as an on-going movement as we go about our day, such that it is already a momentum when we come to express and so it comes from that quality of movement already happening in our body.

  9. I too am recognising much more that “no trying, pandering or pleasing is required to truly appreciate.” Appreciating is deepening in my experience and in my body. The two go hand in hand it seems – allowing myself to be appreciated as well as to appreciate in a more meaningful way.

  10. To have understanding and awareness of appreciation in this way, offers deeper connection to the innate essence common to all.
    ‘the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly.’

  11. As I observe people and situations rather than in reaction, judging or being critical, I am discovering that there is a deeper level of appreciation within myself and for others and communication between us remains clear.

  12. I have been pondering on how the idealised version of how we should be as a leader affects my ability to appreciate my own way of leading. This flows onto all aspects of life where a model is setup, so we don’t appreciate our unique qualities. It is important to look to yourself for the value of your way and not fall for feeling less than the societal ideal.

  13. I read a lovely blog recently by Susan Hayes about the things she appreciated about not having an automatic tumble dryer of her own. This took appreciation to a whole new level for me as I started to appreciate things that I don’t have. For example I don’t have a car which offers me a great opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, at bus stops, on my walks, on buses , trains and taxi drivers I appreciate the richness that all these meetings have brought to my life and I deeply appreciate the fact that I don’t have a car.

    1. Gorgeous Elizabeth I love this and allows me to step back from the belief that I need a car. I do appreciate and enjoy my car and I also see it as a necessary part of my life, but do I need it is a totally different question and as you have experienced it opens us up to a totally different way of life one that offers an opportunity to meet and experience so many more people. Appreciating what we don’t have is awesome and takes away any jealousy or envy that might creep in.

  14. As a society we seem to focus on getting something done usually as quickly and efficiently as possible. We do not stop to consider how we do the task. I am beginning to appreciate it is how I am with myself when I am doing something that makes a huge difference, for example rather than just ‘banging’ off an email in reply to someone I connect to them first and then reply. The quality of the email they receive is totally different to the one I would have sent.

  15. When we start to see, to observe that we can do everything in life coming from our divine essence, there is so much more to appreciate than just the big things in life. Every little thing, like meeting a person or just clearing a room can be filled with magic.

  16. We make appreciation mean the same thing as being grateful, or thankful, or acknowledging a positive. When, perhaps it is neither of these things – is it possible that appreciation is an understanding, an embodiment of the vastness of what is occurring, with that we then move in awe and willingness for more? When we use “appreciation” as just a fancy word to make ourselves look smart with a vocabulary full of words we distort the true meaning of the word and are left confused when told that appreciation is key in our development. This is because we infuse the word with our own beliefs and understandings and therefore cannot connect to the truth of what it really means to appreciate ourselves, the people around us and our lives.

  17. ‘ trying, pandering or pleasing is required to truly appreciate.’ So true Susan and it is awesome to read your blog revealing what appreciation really is. When we make it about only what we do, then we miss out on the magic of true appreciation. The way you’ve described appreciation being about ‘the qualities in which life is expressed, and reflected to us, constantly.’ this makes so much sense.

  18. As I have come to understand what appreciation is I too have been “peeling back the layers” that have been hiding the truth of this word. I can see now, that over the years others appreciated me way more than I appreciated myself, so much so I used to struggle to accept that they were actually talking about me. It makes sense to me now as back then I had no appreciation of the wonderful woman I am, but since coming to accept my wonderfulness, appreciation from others is very easily acknowledged and willingly accepted.

    1. Very beautifully expressed Ingrid. I too am starting to peel back the layers of appreciation. Also, I can very much related to what you’ve shared, it can be difficult to appreciate others when we do not appreciate ourselves.

      1. I didn’t realise how much I used to struggle to acknowledge the appreciation from others until someone lovingly pulled me up a few years ago. She and two other women were sharing some beautiful words about me and obviously I wasn’t letting these words in as this woman then said “It’s like you don’t know we’re talking about you”, and she was right; it was like they were talking about someone I didn’t know. But now I realise that was actually the truth at that time, for as I didn’t know who I truly was, how could I have any appreciation of the wonderful me?

  19. I love the distinction that you make about what we do and the quality in which we do it. As you say Susan all might look great but if we do not do what we are doing with love then what we are doing is in fact harmful. This awareness brings greater responsibility.

    1. A greater responsibility indeed Elizabeth, and to be able to appreciate the qualities in how things are done and not just rely on our sight means we are no longer easily fooled by the facade or image of something. To be able to read the energetic quality of expressions and everything presented to us is a skill we all have access to.

  20. There are many opportunities we are offered in life to learn and evolve from that we are able to truly appreciate when we are willing to understand them for what they truly are.

  21. It’s only in the last year or so that I have really been appreciating just how foundational and essential appreciation is in our lives. We can have everything at our finger tips and not be able to see or enjoy it due to lack of appreciation. This allows us to stay imprisoned in a cell of our own making, when the prison door is unlocked and just needs to be opened up.

    1. From my experience when I have most in a lack of appreciation, it is when I have been just thinking of myself. As in, I think everything I do is all about me, so then I don’t open up and appreciate all the amazing support I am receiving all around me… and able to reflect even more to others. There is so much about us that needs to be deeply appreciated, and it’s not from what we do, it’s what we hold within and then do which touches us all.

  22. Any movement or imprint that is impulsed from our Soul, from divine Will is worth appreciating in ourselves and with others as it confirms or return to Soul and the magnification of God’s light in this plane of life; our purpose for being here.

  23. Appreciation is basically simple, and opens us up so that we can see the beauty in life in ourselves, as it is constantly shown to us, it only requires us to let go of the beliefs of what appreciation is.

  24. I love this focus on embracing the niggles and tensions of part of the all that there is to appreciate, instead of not wanting to feel them and trying to obliterate them. Appreciation means self honesty and deeply accepting where we’re at.

  25. Appreciation is a whole new level of respect for oneself. It is the quality that is brought to all we do that is worth appreciating and that plants a seed for the quality of life we will live as well as the quantity…if we are really honest.

  26. Appreciation sees always first the grandness of a person, before it looks what did go wrong or what behaviour wasn´t acceptable. Through seeing the glory of someone, behaving not accordingly to this glory, it supports them to connect back to who they truly are. Appreciation is a heavenly support and confirmation- judgement evil and distructive.

  27. Appreciation never comes from comparison. It is a trap, as true appreciation does not initiate from outdoing someone or being better than another. It simply acknowledges a quality, which might be not as great as another day for example, but reflecting this in a situation is already something to appreciate again.

  28. Yes appreciating our quality means there are no limits or outcomes to wait for in order to confirm ourselves it is available all of the time, regardless of what is happening around you.

  29. Susan like you my self appreciation has been quite shallow but recently I have been taking a closer look at what it means to appreciate. I have discovered that if there is a lack of appreciation then its as though we are dismissing ourselves and saying we are less. By appreciating even the smallest of things we do makes such a positive experience that this becomes the normal way to be, rather than the old way which was to dismiss and always feel not good enough.

    1. You should never forget: the moment we step off the game of feeling less and not being good enough we reflect that to other people. To what extent do we shy away from/ avoid peoples reactions, knowing when they actually meet you, they get the full reflection of your own honouring.We feel how much that confronts others ( as almost everyone dismisses themselves) – Question is, do you want to be liked or reflect the truth of how loving and appreciating oneself is purely natural.

      1. Great question that asks us to look at what we are aligning to: the comfort and relief of being liked, or simply living as who we are, and reflecting that to others without hiding, and without shrinking from the expansion on offer, constantly.

  30. This is a strong and supportive observation “The niggles and tensions also draw me out of any comfort or ‘burying my head in the sand” we so often see annoying without looking at why they are there, to deepen our understanding of why something occurs does indeed allow us to step out of our preconceptions, patterns and indulgences.

  31. I love that the niggles keep us honest. Blogs like this encourage us to consider how much we resent or appreciate those little reminders to question if what we are doing is supporting or harming our own bodies.

  32. Appreciation is an art, a science that should be practiced constantly. But appreciation can also be misused to not advance, or to advance slower than we could. It takes honest discernment in which way we are appreciating.

  33. You are right that appreciation is about the qualities rather than the material things. Only in the last year or so I have realised that appreciation has nothing to do with thinking. It is a whole body feeling and it lets you feel more deeply something that you already are.

  34. Even when times are hard or tough we can appreciate this as an opportunity to see our unloving ways and be offered evolution back to our own divine love.

  35. Appreciation is wholesome and full and does indeed not require any props and scaffolding; appreciation teaches us about the riches of life and with ever more appreciation come ever more joy, honesty and more appreciation.

  36. When we understand appreciation as a movement it completely changes our perception of appreciation, with the realisation that it is through connecting to a true quality within us that appreciation naturally expands as we express out and not as a focus from our mind on end results or what we have achieved or materially gained.

  37. I sometimes think appreciation is the key to life – when I get stuck in thinking appallingly about myself, or when I wish things were different if I stop and become humble and appreciate everything in my life and how far i’ve already come… life suddenly feels simple again.

  38. Appreciation is a quality of movement … yes, and reading this is a great reminder that there is so much more to appreciate beyond any end results that it’s about the quality in how we are and move. And to consider it as a grander level … do we move in a way that deeply honours the sacredness we are, this takes quality and movement to a whole other level.

    1. Yes Monica beautifully and wisely said. In appreciating the quality of divine energy that is moving us we appreciate our alignment to God, as such we are creating space for us to further magnify and reflect the light of His love through our body and our everyday living.

    1. That’s true, if we appreciate niggles and tensions are an opportunity rather than see them as a problem, life becomes an amazing challenge rather than something too big to handle.

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