We all know how important it is to incorporate a gratitude practice into our lives.
While gratitude is a feeling, appreciation is an expression.
It is even more important to take the time to appreciate the things, people and situations in our lives. What we don't appreciate, depreciates!
We rarely make efforts to appreciate our own accomplishments, actions and personality traits.
According to William James, "the deepest principle of human nature is craving to be appreciated."
It's not surprising that most of us feel unappreciated in our homes, with our families and on our jobs.
By appreciating ourselves more, we could change that.
The challenge is that we are more likely to see what's wrong with ourselves than to acknowledge and appreciate our own talents and strengths.
"Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine." Ralph Waldo Emerson.
While it is true that we are responsible for stepping out of the shadows and standing in our own sunshine, it is a tall order.
How do we undo years of doubting ourselves, criticizing ourselves, talking negatively about ourselves and devaluing ourselves?
For most of us, the focus on our weaknesses feels automatic.
In my training as a lawyer, I was taught to see the flaws in every case and that "skill" has become ingrained in me. I know exactly where I need to improve, but am often unable to see or appreciate where I excel.
How do we become more appreciative of our strengths?
One way is to follow the wisdom of Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine monk who wrote "it is trust in the limits of self that makes us open and it is trust in the gifts of others that make us secure. We realize that we don't have to do everything, that we can't do everything and that what I can't do is someone else's gift and responsibility. My limitations make space for the gifts of other people."
What a fantastic new perspective! If we could think of our limitations as other people's gifts, perhaps we could lighten up on ourselves and actually appreciate our strengths.
Rather than being down on myself for not being more organized with all the paper in my office, what if I could consider that organization is someone else's gift and let my disappointment in my lack go?
Instead of focusing on our weaknesses, we could lean into our strengths and make ways to make them central in our lives!
It's time to consider the possibility that we really can free ourselves from judgment and criticism and learn to deeply appreciate ourselves.
Ask yourself where how you been undervaluing yourself?
Where haven't you been appreciating yourself?
Allow yourself to have a subtle shift in outlook, to become more appreciative.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes". Marcel Proust
Remember to view your limitations as someone else's gift.
Look with new eyes and see the magnificence of you.
I appreciate you. Make sure you do too.
With love and light,