Lately, others have invited me to participate in some interesting blogging challenges. This week was no different. For the next 26 weeks, I will be blogging my way through the alphabet. When I asked some of our Facebook and Twitter followers for some A words as inspiration for this week’s blog, you offered me appreciation, awareness, agreements, attitude, asparagus, and anchovies, in no specific order. While the last two might seem a stretch in terms of this particular reflection, the more I thought about these letter words, the more I realize that they were, in their own unique way, related.
One of our followers suggested the word appreciation because she said she appreciated everything Inspiritual does for our readers, members, and followers. While we too appreciated the feedback, I realized that being able to be grateful and appreciate someone else’s actions, words, or behaviors was in part about awareness and attitude. If one is not have an attitude of gratitude about the blessings in one’s life, then one cannot appreciate the fullness and richness of those blessings.
While gratitude and appreciation are related, there is a distinction between the two. Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Gratitude is the base from which we can gain a greater appreciation of life and its offerings.
Appreciation involves awareness and mindfulness. Our ability to appreciate all of what life is revealing to us is dependent on our being present, aware, and actively reflecting on why we are grateful for what we are. It is through our awareness that our appreciation of that which we are grateful grows and blossoms.
We must also have a basic agreement to choose to be grateful for the blessings in our lives. If one has an agreement that sees things as something others have to do for them, they may not see them as something for which to be grateful and therefore not fully appreciate. When we change our agreements however, we can begin to experience gratitude and thus begin to develop a new appreciation for life.
For example, my wife has told me for the last decade or so how much she does not like asparagus or anchovies. She had them both once and did not like them and so her basic agreement all these years has been that they would never again cross her lips. As a gift to me this past year, she allowed me to prepare asparagus for her in a way she had never had it before and was surprised. While they are not on her top 10 list of vegetables, she was grateful for a new taste experience with them and a greater appreciation of how flavorful they can be. The same is true of anchovies, which she does not like, however, has come to realize that it is not the anchovies themselves, but the way in which they are used. The change in her agreement has enabled her to be grateful and to appreciate how they can transform the meal.
For the last year or so, I have been challenging everyone to take time to think about what they are grateful for that day. Perhaps the next question should be what is it about those things that you appreciate. As we do, then as Melody Beattie wrote, we begin to unlock the fullness of life.