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…

720 thoughts on “Peeling Back the Layers of Appreciation

  1. Susan you make a great point that the pictures we hold of how life is supposed to be get in the way of appreciating situations that may be uncomfortable and the learning on offer.

  2. To Truly ‘Appreciate’ is living in the knowing that we are all a vessel that the energy is coming through us from God and when we add ‘Authority’ and ‘Confirmation’ we have True Purpose and thus Appreciation is like a glue that holds one moment of purpose to the next.

  3. If I appreciate myself deeply my body resonates to it – it expands and with this expansion my body starts to move differently. Hence we can feel and see if people are appreciating themselves or not!

  4. Appreciation is a deep respect and honouring of who we truly are and it is a continuous development of this almost on a moment by moment basis. We have been so blinded by this idea that has been around for centuries that we must look outside of ourselves and to others for our salvation that we have forgotten that actually we are already everything within. I personally feel that mainstream religion has a lot to answer for in this respect as it has encouraged us to look outside to a greater deity not letting on that we are that same deity.

  5. We have all done this,”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?” I feel that we have forgotten that we are supported and whether we realise this or not it is always there ready to be tapped into when we have decided that actually the life as we know it isn’t all that it is cracked up to be, it’s the complete opposite in fact, and we have been completely taken in.

  6. No matter what happens in life, if we make the space to really feel it, then we can also find something to appreciate about it. For example getting sick is not seen as a ‘good’ thing, but if you can see it as a message from the body that you are out of sorts perhaps because you have not been looking after yourself in a deep and caring way, then the message is one that conveys a learning and this in itself is beautiful thing.

  7. When we first approach appreciation, there is nothing wrong with starting with the physical aspects of appreciating the roof over our heads, the clothes we wear, the job we have, how good we are at doing things or how good someone else is at doing things. But if we stay at that superficial level of appreciation we sell ourselves short of the deeper appreciation of ourselves and others in terms of the qualities we hold and bring that are natural and special to us. These qualities never go away, where as superficial and material aspects can be taken away in terms of losses (accidents, fires, etc). Deepest appreciation builds our strength to handle life and all that comes our way.

  8. This is a word that is thrown around very easily, often by people who may not have it in their lives. Women telling one another to appreciate themselves, only because it’s lacking in their own lives. Have you ever had somebody tell you that you should appreciate yourself, but those words mean nothing and you’re left thinking: “what on earth does that even mean?” – the reason why that may happen is because the preacher hasn’t had a taste of their medicine, in other words, they have not really appreciated themselves, so when telling you to do it, it leaves you clueless and not really knowing where to start. When a person has true appreciation running through their body, the use of these words can unlock something in us, because we can feel the integrity of what they’re saying. If we’re uncertain, we can ask and they can clarify, not from an evidence-based, intellectual understanding but from the purity of their heart. A heart that speaks to ours.

    1. Spot on Viktoria – we can only talk to another about appreciation to the level that we have been able to live ourselves, otherwise the words are just words and come with no body to back them.

      1. With a body that can’t back them, the words get basterdised & misused. This then leads to the tons and tons of misunderstandings which we have in relationships and everyday life.

    2. I feel what you are referring to is a movement, there is a way to move that conveys everything and when someone moves that has access to that graceful flow we all know by the feeling it engenders in our bodies that the movement is a true movement and we actually all know the flow of a true movement because after all we are all capable of it.

      1. Yes absolutely, we all observe movments on some level – whether we’re aware of it or not. When we sense that something is going on for somebody, the first giveaway is their movements – are they more sharp or slow, is there an awareness of what the person is doing and so on. We’re very acute beings.

    3. This highlights that what we communicate to others is much bigger than words alone, what’s truly conveyed comes from how we live. It’s a whole body package of communication.

      1. Another aspect of life that we ignore, everything we do is right there with us in every moment & that is what we bring to conversation, actions, behaviours & thought…

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