Appreciate the good and it appreciates

Lots has been written about gratitude and how powerful it is as a practice for enhancing our lives and wellbeing.  If you’ve been on any of my programmes, you’ll know how much I encourage people to engage with it as a means of building resilience and shifting perspective.

I’ve also shared with many of you via workshops the power of stacking… when we focus on the good, we see more of it, it stacks up.  The same works in the opposite direction, when we focus on problems, they also stack. 

Having an attitude of gratitude as Tal Ben-Shahar put it very succinctly, helps makes sure the stacking is positive:

“The word appreciate has two meanings. The first meaning is ‘to be thankful,’ the second meaning is ‘to increase in value’. Combined, these two meanings point to a truth that has been proved repeatedly in research on gratitude: when we appreciate the good in our lives, the good grows and we have more of it.  The opposite, sadly, is also true: when we fail to appreciate the good—when we take the good in our lives for granted—the good depreciates.”

Tal Ben-shahar

So gratitude and appreciation are good things and we know we need to practise experiencing and expressing them.  And there are multiple ways to go with this: mindfulness gratitude meditations, keeping a gratitude journal, sending thank you cards to colleagues, family members or friends, saying out loud our appreciation of friends, family and employees, counting our blessings, savouring the moments of joy, peace or calm in the day, all are routes to feeling gratitude, appreciation and joy.

On my Dream Builder Coaching Programme clients are encouraged to develop a daily gratitude practice.  For many, this is a joyful experience and they feel almost immediate benefit. 

For some though, they experience it as a bit of a burden, especially if they are trying to do a list of 10 things you feel gratitude for each day, which is often recommended. 

Obviously if we’re getting stressed out about doing a gratitude practice, it is defeating the purpose!

And in truth, my own experience is that I can thoroughly enjoy keeping a gratitude journal for a while, but then I run out of steam and give up.  This has happened to me repeatedly over a number of iterations of commencing a daily practice.

So I’ve been looking into it a bit more and realise that the evidence and research is indicating that we gain more from doing it less!  A recent Mindful Magazine article on gratitude put it like this:

“Don’t overdo it. Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. That might be because we adapt to positive events and can soon become numb to them—that’s why it helps to savor surprises.”

Mindful Magazine

This rings true, based on both my own and my clients’ experiences. 

So I wanted to share it with you here so you know what the evidence is saying and to invite you to (re-)engage with gratitude! 

If you tried it and ran out of steam, give it another go.  Trust yourself!  If the practice you are/were being encouraged to do isn’t working for you, it doesn’t mean you ‘can’t do’ gratitude.  It just means you need another way to experience it.  And experiencing it is what it is all about.

So, experiment with some of the ideas mentioned above.  If you’re a boss or manager, could you send a note of appreciation or small thank you gift to one or all of your team this week?  As a parent or partner, how can you show love and appreciation to a family member this week?  If you’re challenged by lockdown and all that goes with it, how can you express gratitude to and for yourself for all you are doing well at this challenging time? 

And as you do any of those acts, writing the card, saying the words, being kind to yourself, FEEL the appreciation, let it rise within your heart and spread throughout your body. 

That’s how gratitude practise works its magic as a tool for enhancing your wellbeing and shifting your perspective.  It’s not the list of things that counts but the feeling you get when you contemplate all that you appreciate.  Notice what you have to be grateful for, breathe it in, absorb it and feel the feeling of gratitude and appreciation.

Let me finish with expressing my appreciation of you!  Thank you for being in my community.

Source: Pixabay

As a special thank you I want to share with you the details of my forthcoming webinar: Still Standing Firm – this is a one-off, one hour complimentary session to share with you some additional tools for being your best in challenging times.

And if you haven’t already participated in Standing Firm When Your World Is Shaking, would like to repeat it or would love to share the details with friends, family and colleagues who missed out on it last time, get the details and sign up here .  I’m offering the programme again on Wednesdays in April 2021, at 8pm on the 7, 14, 21 and 28.  Open to all. Standing Firm is free for everyone who needs it to be and on a donation basis for everyone else €49.00.  All proceeds will be split evenly between Capacitar International and Focus Ireland.

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