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The Art of Appreciation

There are days, weeks, or even months when we feel weighed down by life. There are days when I feel like I have a to-do list debt longer than Santa's nice list! I have things to do—places to go. I think about the things I'm not doing. Am I disappointing people? Am I not being as good of a person as I should be? Should I feel guilty for taking time for myself? Am I right where I need to be? Where has the time gone? Am I worthy?

We can all feel this way. But what brings us back? What makes us remember to slow down and recognize the beauty in stillness, acceptance, and appreciation of just being––not doing? What reminds us that what we accomplish is not all life is about?

I recently practiced a meditation called Art of Appreciation. In the meditation, she guides you to think of one thing you are grateful for. In over 20 years my answer has never changed. It's my dad. As I lay there with my eyes closed time suddenly seemed to slow down as I was reminded of how lucky I am that my dad and I had the bond that we did. My mind would squirrel to the really hard times, but my mind is so made up in love for him that it would guide me to forgiveness and compassion. I began to relax and all the feelings of worry and doubt about life slipping away from me went away. I remembered one day I'll be with my dad again. And at least in this life, I've shared a love like this.

When I think of how much my dad loved me and how much I loved my dad I am reminded of what books like The Bible, Think Like a Monk and The Power of Now try to teach us. The greatest answer to life is love. It's not an easy practice to genuinely forgive and appreciate the people around us no matter what they do or how they hurt us. Sometimes it's even unfathomable living through the pain of someone betraying us. But I can testify to a love that is so pure!

There were times when my dad absolutely broke my heart. But I released no other feeling from my heart but love, forgiveness, and compassion. If in all my life I have no accomplishments to speak of from here on out I'd be okay with that because I was able to experience the purest form of joy possible by loving my dad.

I wish I could do the same for all my friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. I hope that when I feel betrayed I was able to express the same kind of appreciation I had for my dad to them. It's really powerful to love people for who they are. And most people deserve to be loved for who they are. And when you can love people so purely and not have to worry about if you'll be hurt, time will slow down. The to-do list will seem trivial. I find peace.

I hope you have someone or something in your life that you appreciate as much as this. I hope you have a truth so pure and joyful and full of love that you can always come back to. And if you do, try not to lose sight of it. Try to come back to it when life gets heavy.

I imagine that is what having children gives you the feeling of and maybe this is how you feel about your children if you're reading this as a parent. My dad certainly made me feel like I was his reason too.

And if nothing comes to mind that brings you joy, that's okay too. The great news is you can find it. You can learn to love, let go of all of your fears of being hurt, and practice the art of appreciation. Don't give up. You're worthy of feeling safe and loved.

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