Practicing Appreciation

A refreshing Canadian front whips across Lake Erie
Our capacity for appreciation is a function of the "human" brain over the reptilian, at least for the times we choose to exercise our God- given capacity for wonder and appreciation. Appreciation is worthy of its description as one of the transcendent emotions, because it can foster profound moments of connection with something greater than ourselves

Appreciation allows us to be human, to love, to calm down, and better endure difficult times.  

When I served as a labor coach for my expectant wife, I was to make sure that her focal point was available, that is, a photo of her beloved kitty cat. Why? Because the sight was comforting and peace-giving to her, even in the most difficult pain of her labor.

Appreciation counteracts our natural tendency of adaptation to good things (the animal brain)- try making a regular list of all the things taken for granted.  

There are two ways to experience appreciation: one, we practice it daily or, two, we undergo the loss of blessings- and we recognize them after the fact.  Adapting to the good can be countered by intentionally remembering the good in our lives. Psalm 73:25, is instructive here: "Do I have anyone else in heaven?" Or, whom do I have to thank?

Another way to embody appreciation is to relinquish what we cling to as our rights. Instead, see them as favors.

This works wonders in relationships of all kinds, including marriages. You can become a bucket filler by expressing genuine appreciation to others with whom we live and work. Most healthy relationships need daily three, four, even five more bucket drops than bucket dips, and genuine appreciation is one of the vehicles we have for placing deposits in others.    

Finally, practice appreciation. Choose to engage in activities that encourage it.

A brilliant musical performance, visiting a museum that houses great works of art, a breathtaking sunset, a nature walk, or an inspiring time of worship can all lift our spirit. Engaging regularly in an enjoyable hobby or discipline can have the same effect: photography, gardening, water color, writing, or spiritual reading.

When all else fails, speaking your appreciation daily to those around you is perhaps the easiest way to practice it.

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