How You Can Feel Better Now!
We were just on vacation in Cape Cod … an area of the country that’s been on my bucket list to see. Two full weeks. Ocean front. Made the reservations a year ago and been looking forward to it. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it?
Except for one thing. The crabby girl who was livin’ in my head when we first got there wasn’t appreciating the glory.
Maybe she was tired and desperately needed the two weeks off. Maybe she’d just lost sight of the practices that gave her such a sense of joy and well-being just a few weeks before. But I didn’t like her … how she made me feel … and how she was talkin’ to me.
I tried one of my tools that usually works … getting present to the things I was grateful for. But it wasn’t working. Whenever I thought of what I was grateful for, she came up with an objection around how it could be better.
“I’m grateful for my house in the mountains of NC. I love my condo in Mexico. And I love how we’re debt-free and it’s all paid for.”
“Yeah, but look at that absolutely stunning 10,000 square foot house on the cliff overlooking the beach. You don’t have that!”
Huh? What’s up with her, and how do I get rid of her … even though I know trying to suppress her voice will only have her get louder? It’s what I teach as a life coach, for God’s sake!
So what to do?
I made a subtle change that actually changed everything!
Instead of listing the blessings I have in my life, I just decided to focus on the things I appreciate … how funny Tom can be, the ocean, beautiful vistas, Cape Cod architecture, the explosion of flowers, days with no appointments … and all of a sudden I changed! It didn’t take all that long and I moved to a place of true gratitude.
It manifested itself as a feeling that welled up inside and gushed forth.
But what happened here? What was the distinction that made the difference?
I decided to do some research to figure it out for myself and so I could share what I learned with you and my life coaching clients.
Here’s what I found from several different sources.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. Clear enough. But there’s a difference between that spontaneous welling up of thankfulness and the practice of cataloging what one is thankful for.
It’s very subtle, but many mindset gurus seem to align around the belief that when we consciously engage in the practice of being grateful, it’s because … underneath the positive emotion … there’s something else going on. We’re actually trying to fix something or overcome a challenge.
And, I was clearly trying to fix my crabby girl by listing what I was grateful for!
There’s no question that gratitude and appreciation are peas in a pod. But overall, gratitude is a bit less empowering than appreciation. Why is that?
Because we tend to think and speak in more general terms about what we’re thankful for … the food on our table … the people in our lives … the opportunities we’ve been given.
That’s all great … and … it’s not quite the same as simply appreciating the aroma and taste of the applewood smoked bacon … the kindness of the stranger who directed us to the perfect hidden beach … the childlike fun of seeing the gingerbread houses in Martha’s Vineyard on a perfect summer day.
Appreciation is nothing more than the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
There’s a lot of power in that, and all you have to do is two things.
Look around. There’s something wonderful or someone special everywhere you set your gaze. And get in the habit of seeing what it is you like about people, places, and things … what you appreciate.
So, if you’re not running through your day or your week as happy and positive as you’d like to be, all you need to do is go on a “rampage of appreciation” … and watch how everything shifts!
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