Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I received this letter from my daughter who lives in Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, Japan.

Cultivate appreciation and gratitude and turn your day into one of love and enjoyment.

Appreciation and Gratitude by Penny van Heerden ~ Naha City.
    How is it possible for somebody to go through life never having felt appreciation or gratitude?  Is it just a case of them not recognizing the occasions when they felt gratitude? 
    For me I am grateful for so much and to so many people. 
    I am grateful for my amazing childhood, growing up surrounded by nature in Africa. 
    I am grateful for the homes we lived in, with gardens and swimming pools. 
    I am grateful for the fact that I had a wonderful family to enjoy it with. 
    Ok so many people didn't have an amazing childhood.  They were abused or neglected, maybe they went hungry or were exposed to drugs or alcohol.  However, the people that had such terrible childhoods that they have nothing to be grateful for are surely in the minority. 
    As for appreciation, I find that even harder to believe than a lack of gratitude. 
    I woke up this morning and looked out the window at a perfect blue sky.  What more do you need to feel appreciation? 
    The other day my daughter bought herself an orange rose. Her complete joy and excitement affected everybody around us.  The man serving her at the shop carefully tied a bright orange ribbon around the rose and handed it to her with a huge grin on his face.  As my daughter left the shop she giggled aloud and hopped up and down.  Everybody in the vicinity turned and looked and smiled in appreciation. 
    Of course, I was extremely grateful that she was my daughter and I was the lucky one to take her home, but everybody else who saw her that day experienced some level of appreciation. 
    That is all it takes, seeing somebody smile or their face light up when you visit.  Hearing children giggling uncontrollably in a park.  Examining a rose or wild flower, feeling the wind or rain on your face.
    All it takes is the ability to notice the reality around you. 
    And maybe that is the problem.  People are not connected to reality.  They believe they are.  They watch the news and shake their heads and say, "what a terrible world we live in." 
    People are always saying things like, "It is time to stop dreaming and get back to reality."  They believe that reality is bad.  That it is hard or difficult or painful.  It is almost as if they are unable to believe what they see around them.  Or perhaps they just genuinely don't see what is around them any more.  They don't hear the children laughing, they don't notice the wild flowers, they don't notice the smile from a stranger. 
    Or perhaps it is even worse than that.  The hear the children and rather than feeling appreciation they feel annoyed.  Those children making a noise and disturbing me again.  They see the wild flowers and shake their heads.  Those weeds are getting out of hand, the council ought to sort that mess out.  They see the stranger smile and look quickly away, after all he must be completely insane to be smiling in today's world.
    Take time to feel appreciation for the smallest thing around you and you will notice more and more to feel appreciation for.  Soon the idea of feeling appreciation just for the sake of feeling appreciation won't be such a crazy idea.  Look around you at your own life, your own reality to find things to feel grateful for.  Do you have a family?  They may be driving you crazy but how would you feel if they weren't around.  Practice feeling grateful for their mere presence.  Do you have work?  Perhaps a job you hate?  Well would it be better to be unemployed?  Be grateful that you have a job.  Feel gratitude when you see that your salary has been deposited into your account.  Then think about how you can make your job better.  More enjoyable.  Think too about how to get away from your job. 
    What is your dream?  Stop worrying about reality and start dreaming.  Then work towards that dream.  Or find something that you love to do outside of work and spend more time and energy on that.  The more you feel grateful the more you will find to be grateful for.
    The idea of feeling appreciation and gratitude for no reason is something we should all strive for.
    I may be naive in my belief that reality is so much better than what we believe in our heads but take some time to test it out.  Go through what is bad in your life, not the world, just your life.  Then go through what is good.  I truly believe that for 90% of people the good far outweighs the bad.  And yet most of those 90% the focus is always on the bad rather than the good.  Allow yourself some time to wallow in the good. 

Allow yourself some time to be happy.

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