I can remember not too long ago when my Dad first connected with Jim Wilder and started talking about the impact appreciation was having on him. I was intrigued for sure- because I could see the changes taking place.
But to be totally honest- the idea of doing it myself was puzzlingly unappealing.
As a mom- of course I could “appreciate” my kids- but for some reason that just didn’t feel quite like enough.
I was disconnected in my marriage and rather secluded as a stay at home mom. The only relationships I really had at the time were with “strangers” on the internet who belonged to the same dieting message board as me. (no offense to the remaining few that I still consider friends!)
I remember trying to “practice appreciation” and feeling like an utter failure.
I’d try really hard to rack my brain to come up with an appreciation story, only to wind up feeling even more frustrated and totally aware of how much I LACKED.
But I kept trying.
I kept looking for things throughout my days to appreciate. I wanted to find just one full “Appreciation Story” to share with my Dad next time he visited!
Instead I found a bunch of things that upset me. I found unfolded laundry- and felt ashamed for hitting de-wrinkle once again. I found reasons to fight with my husband- and felt angry and hopeless.
So far this experiment was making me feel quite the opposite of appreciation and joy!
But I kept trying.
One day I realized that when I sang worship music during the day that my body felt lighter and a “lift” in my spirit.
Could this be an appreciation moment?
It was! I found that my internal world was coming alive and realized I was more interested and more curious about the world around me.
If this is what appreciation was- I was liking it!
So I did it exactly like this….. a LOT! I let worship and singing be my appreciation training- because it was working for me. I would sing and dance, and connect with God in this new “energy” all the time. It made me feel vibrant and bright- and the old cloak of despair began to have less and less appeal to me. (this is what worked for me..... I'm excited to see what will work for you! We are all different and God put unique things inside each of us that will "spark" us in different ways!)
I began to notice OTHER things around me that sparked life in my heart.
Sunsets- oh how the colors would tickle my eyes!
Taking photos- I loved the feel of the weighty camera in my hand as I composed the image through the tiny little lens. I could feel my left eye squeeze shut making my right eye more attentive to what was right in front of me.
The beach- the feel of the warm sand beneath my toes, the warm sun on my skin and the smell of salt in the air. I sigh now just thinking about it!
The darkroom- the feeling of loading a roll of film onto the developing reel in complete darkness- the confidence that came with not knowing was so eye opening!! The smell of the chemicals and the excitement of that first moment when an image came to life on paper!!
The trails throughout the woods down to the river’s edge.. bike rides and the way the wind would cool my skin and blow my hair… the park where the kids would play and I’d rediscover the pleasures of swinging once again.
I can’t really remember how or when it happened exactly, but change was happening.
Appreciation wasn’t as hard to find anymore. In fact, appreciation was fueling me and I didn’t seem to be as bothered by the negatives that still remained in my life. They were still there. But they didn’t define my mood anymore.
Now, fast forward 10 years, and I can honestly say that appreciation is my natural state. I am mindful of the things that make me feel alive every day.
And when I slip back into that “mode” where I can’t seem to “feel” it much- I NOTICE it! It’s in those moments that I take a deep breath and remember that this is just a moment. Instead of believing it’s “Just how life is”… I see that it’s a signal. Perhaps a signal that I need to rest, or to pay closer attention to my feelings.
Do you know what?
I’ve actually come to a place where I can appreciate these signals! These bad moods and critical vision that used to communicate misery, doom and hopelessness now communicate “Something’s out of line here…. let’s find out what it is!”
If you're ready to start practicing appreciation, I'd love to help you with that! Sign up for a free consultation today and let's meet and see if Life Coaching is just the prompting you need!