I am already thrilled with this “challenge.” Because I woke up VERY cranky. This is not a new thing. I’m cranky most mornings. I like to wake up on my terms, which almost NEVER happens these days. I knew that picking one of the Receptive words this morning would not be something I was very open to. I MADE myself do it! And I’m so glad I did! (See there is definitely a place for some Active States here!)
Today, we are pondering Appreciating. And as any Good Girl would do, I started with the definition. (By the way, I used an old-fashioned dictionary to look it up and it was quite satisfying!) Straight from the American Heritage College Dictionary, here are the some definitions of “appreciate.”
1. Recognize the quality, significance or magnitude of
2. To be fully aware of; realize
3. To be thankful or show gratitude for
4. To admire greatly; value
5. To raise in value, especially over time
When I started out this morning, I thought my best way to practice “appreciating” would be to make a list of things I’m thankful for. Then I read these definitions and I realized it is so much more. I especially like #1 and #2. Appreciating is going beyond a gratitude list. Beyond a simple statement of “I am thankful for…” and taking it to the next level. You must be FULLY AWARE of what is so great. You are thinking of the magnitude of your object of appreciation. For example, I’m spending time actually thinking about what it took for my husband to get up in the wee hours, silently get dressed and pack a lunch and be out the door while it is still dark. I’m really imagining for a moment all he has on his to-do list today and the hundreds of tasks it takes for him to bring home that paycheck that we all so depend on. It means asking him how his day was AND LISTENING TO THE ANSWER so that I know just what his work day entails.
And the real gift for me today was realizing that I already do this quite a bit. For example, lately, when I take a shower, I have been really pondering all it took in human history for me to have the true gift of HOT water, pouring out at me with the turn of a knob EVERY day. How far back in history did the seeds of what is now something many of us take for granted sprout? When fire was discovered? When water could be heated in big batches? And just think of all the people who had a hand over time to develop all it takes for me to have indoor plumbing, clean water, hot water, all conveniently spouting out at me through a very lovely shower head through which I can even choose my own water pressure!
So, I’m offering you this little exercise. I’m sure I can’t take credit for it. Some other amazing metaphysical guru has probably already said this exact same thing. But since I’m not sure about who, I’m going to give my little exercise a name……
The Rabbit Hole of Appreciation
Start with a gratitude. “I am thankful for cereal.”
Now, just follow the path of how that cereal came to be in your house, break it down to all its bits and pieces. You will discover so many other things to appreciate….(and be careful, your head might explode with appreciation, Oprah’s Favorite Things style)
*The store that is always stocked with your cereal.
*The vast array of choices of cereal.
*The vacuum sealed bag that keeps your cereal fresh.
*The person who developed the recipe for your cereal.
*The manufacturer who found a way to make mass quantities of this cereal.
*The farmer who grew the wheat.
*The sun, the earth, bugs! Oh my!
And so on.
Now a word of warning. It could be very easy for some of these appreciations to turn into something else. Like a dissertation in your head on the quality of mass-produced food (or lack there of) or the wastefulness of millions of plastic, vacuum-sealed cereal bags going into landfills. This is not the time for any of that! It’s not that those thoughts don’t have a place, but during this exercise, we are just trying to focus on appreciation. Gently remind yourself that you are appreciating. For me, it is helpful to think about the people involved and that helps me get right back to appreciation. Pondering the farmer who woke early to check the fields or who lay in bed nights worrying about an early frost reminds me of all the effort that went in to my cereal. That is the definition of appreciating!
And you can always try a new gratitude if what you chose sends you down the wrong rabbit hole (say of “judgement” or “comparing”).
So, it is now 8:36 AM and I still have a whole day of appreciating ahead of me. And yet, I’m already feeling it. I’m feeling that expansive feeling when you truly appreciate all that is before you.
I’ll leave you with this.
Again, not my idea. I’ve seen several folks in my blog-o-sphere doing this for Thanksgiving. Many are calling it a Tree of Gratitude. But today, the girls and I are calling it the Tree of Appreciation and they have embraced this idea with gusto.
So, how about you? Are you pondering “appreciation” today? I’d love to hear your thoughts!