THE POWER OF APPRECIATION: Key to a Vibrant Life (Beyond Words Publishing)
CHAPTER 1: The Transformative Nature Of Appreciation
What Is Appreciation?
When you think of appreciation, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Probably something you're supposed to do, as in “Appreciate the roof over your head, some people don't have one,” or something you failed to do, as in “You don't appreciate a thing I do for you!”
Most of us were subjected to such “appreciation-by-guilt,” yelled by an irate parent with predictable regularity throughout our childhoods. If you have children, you may be doing the yelling yourself. As unpleasant as yelling or being yelled at may be, it tells you worlds about what appreciation really means.
When you're yelling “You don't appreciate a thing I do for you!” to your kids, what you mean is “You aren't grateful for what I do for you. You don't value what I do for you. You don't see its worth, how meaningful or important this thing I do for you is.” The upshot is, you feel unappreciated.
You've probably felt unappreciated in much the same way by bosses, girlfriends, boyfriends, family members, husbands, wives, friends, lovers, co-workers–just about anybody you have ever interacted with. The bottom line is that you feel that what you're offering isn't valued by the person you're offering it to, and therefore they aren't grateful for it.
What happens when you do feel appreciated by that child, boss, lover, mother-in-law, or friend? Your spirits soar! You feel like you are important to them; you feel competent and happy. You have the same effect on others when you show your appreciation.
When you deliberately decide to appreciate someone or something, you don't wish them harm and you don't destroy. Instead, you nurture, support and love. As a result, they–and you–are transformed.
A New Definition of Appreciation
This book describes the transformative energy of consistent, proactive appreciation that can propel your life from good to great, from troubled to joyous, from struggling to successful. You will learn about a kind of appreciation that changes your very approach to life and living.
You'll learn how to use this energy, which comes not from your usual duty-bound appreciation, not from your politically or socially correct appreciation, or even from your heartfelt-but-soon-forgotten appreciation but from a very different type of appreciation.
What kind of appreciation can transform your life? It's appreciation that consists of two vital components: gratitude plus valuing. It is this combination of gratitude and valuing that gives appreciation its power as a tranformative energy.
Gratitude is a receptive energy. It engages your heart. You feel or express gratitude after something pleasing has happened. A friend helps you out of trouble; you are grateful. You notice the good things in your life; you are grateful.
Most people are thinking of gratitude when they use the word appreciation. Spiritual leaders, authors, and others from the Dalai Lama to Louise Hay to Oprah Winfrey, have extolled the benefits of practicing gratitude through journals, meditation, and an “attitude of gratitude.”
The valuing aspect of appreciation is a dynamic energy. It engages your mind. When you value something or someone, you actively use your mind to think of it, why it matters to you, what it is worth to you. Just as in the world of finance, when something appreciates, it grows in value. The same is true in our lives. A house is just a space until it is filled with the people and things you cherish, and then it is a place called home.
Because you choose what you think, you can deliberately select thoughts that value someone or something, rather than thoughts that devalue that person or thing. Consciously choosing to value the people and things in your life is what makes it possible for you to use appreciation proactively. You don't have to wait for something pleasing to happen in order to start valuing. You can choose to value someone or something before they have contributed anything at all to your life.
The act of proactively valuing transforms gratitude from an after-the-fact expression of feeling to a before-the-fact deliberate engaging of energy. This is the energy of appreciation!
Appreciation as Energy
When you step outside the idea of appreciation as gratitude expressed after-the-fact, and start to think of appreciation as an energy you use proactively with intention, it's a whole new ball game. In this regard, appreciation can be likened to electricity. Electricity can be thought of as something that “turns on” the light in a light bulb. You flick the switch when you want light, as a response to the dark.
Or electricity can be thought of as an energy that can be used as a source of power for any number of uses. So it is with appreciation. You can think of appreciation as a response to something you are grateful for, or you can think of appreciation as an energy, a source of power that can be harnessed, as electricity is, for any number of uses, such as:
- Use the power of appreciation to change your body's response to stress, to encourage good health, an enhanced immune system, better energy, and faster healing.
- Use appreciation's power to increase your satisfaction and joy at home and at work, to improve your relationships and increase the love in your life, to reduce conflict and support cooperation.
- Use appreciation to develop better self-esteem and self-confidence, and to better cope with change or crisis.
- Focus the energy of appreciation to attract abundance and success.
- Use the power of appreciation to attract new relationships, romantic and otherwise, into your life.
Appreciation used deliberately, purposefully, and proactively can transform just about any experience, no matter how challenging, into one you value and are grateful for. Mastering the energy of appreciation can rock your world. It can literally be magic for your life.
The Appreciators Group
In August 2001, we invited a group of seven people to form an Appreciators Group. We asked members to choose one thing in their lives they wished to transform or attract. Over a period of six weeks, we taught them how to use appreciation to do so, using the techniques described in this book. One member wanted a better relationship with his adolescent daughter, who was acting out and refusing to talk to her dad. Another member had suffered a severe setback in her job; she wanted to use appreciation to dissolve her resentment over her down-sized position and help her get her career back on track. Yet another bemoaned the lack of love in her life and wanted to fill that void.
The results exceeded our expectations. All the members of the group were not only successful, they taught us a great deal more about the power of appreciation than we ourselves had been aware of. As Erin, a group member, told us, “I've found that I can use appreciation as I do oxygen: to breathe life into my relationships and the goals I want to create for myself. If everyone did this, I believe that the impact on the world could be phenomenal – more love, less wars, and more understanding.”
Another Appreciators Group (AG) member, Sylvia, says, “Appreciation did a lot more than bring me a new relationship, it changed how I feel about myself and my life. There's a peace in my heart now, and this really deep security within, which is making everything in my life easier and better. I didn't expect that.”
Since then, we have continued to work with Appreciators Groups, developing and refining our techniques. We are excited to share our methods on how to harness the energy of appreciation with you in the following chapters.