This article seeks to demonstrate why appreciation is important. Appreciation, or gratitude, is an incredibly powerful emotion. Being in the habit of regularly feeling and expressing gratitude has been shown to produce profound life shifts.
Appreciation (gratitude) is all the rage these days. And for good reason, it has the potential to radically upgrade every aspect of our lives. In this article I’ll show you why and how.
So read on if this is something you’re interested in.
What Is Appreciation?
How do you define appreciation? Like I’ve written in the past, any word which defines a feeling we experience is bound to miss the mark. Words are not feelings. They point to feelings, but the definition of the word “appreciation” and actually experiencing appreciation are two different things. I’m writing this to make clear that words, while being astoundingly useful, do have their limitations.
Appreciation means “Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people or things.” It can also mean “An expression of gratitude.” Whatever the definition is, we all know what appreciation is because we have all experienced it at some point or another in our lives.
I invite you to reminisce on a time when you experienced genuine appreciation for something or someone in your life. How easily does generating spontaneous appreciation come to you? Really take some time to cultivate the experience of appreciation. Close your eyes and do this for a minute or two. I guarantee that if you do this you will get more out of what’s coming further along in the article.
Can You Do It?
If you took the time to cultivate appreciation (I hope you did), I would like to direct your attention to something. In your imagining, What happened which made you experience appreciation in the first place?
I’ll give you the answer in the next paragraph, but take some time to answer the question. Why did you experience appreciation?
Think about it for a moment.
The answer is that you experienced appreciation because you received something. This is huge.
Whether it was receiving a bouquet of roses on your birthday, experiencing of a warm summer afternoon in the forest, admiring a masterpiece on display in a museum, listening to a beautiful piece of music, a smile, or the service provided by someone in some store or office, what you appreciated was something you received.
All appreciation has that one thing in common. We always appreciate when we receive something.
You will see now why this is so important.
The Creative Power Of Consciousness
Modern science is completely flummoxed by consciousness. It simply cannot explain how our awareness of existing happens. It might as well all be magic. In this sense, all life is magical, because it cannot be explained by science.
From a scientific perspective, life defies the laws of nature. Yet it happens anyways. And what is magic if not an apparent violation of the laws of nature? A magician makes something disappear somewhere and appear somewhere else, in an apparent violation of what we believe to be possible.
It’s the same with consciousness. According to what we know, it shouldn’t happen. We don’t know how it happens. Our highest forms of science and technology are powerless to explain it, yet alone replicate, it. But it happens anyways. Magic.
I want you to be comfortable with the idea that your consciousness is magical, because once you accept that model of reality you begin to discover the tremendous creative power which lies at your beck and call.
We All Have Tremendous Creative Power
Because we are conscious beings. Consciousness is creative.
If you read this article you will learn about how our thoughts become our reality. Consciousness is magic, and the fundamental nature of consciousness can’t be explained by science as of now. It’s a miracle, really.
BUT if you give science the initial inexplicable miracle, consciousness, then it CAN explain how consciousness, and our deft utilization of it, can bring about profound change in our lives. In other words, we don’t know what consciousness is or where it comes from. But we do know how it can be wielded to shift our lives in the direction we want to go. There is a part of the process that is no longer magical, it can be explained by science.
I’m trying to convey that there is a scientific backing behind the creative power of consciousness. That by taking charge of our consciousness we can direct our lives according to our desires. We can control our destinies.
Our Brains Are Constantly Rearranging Themselves
Here is how consciousness is creative. When we are in a state of appreciation, be it consciously or unconsciously, it is because we received something, anything. As we exist in that appreciative state, biochemical and neurological changes are taking place within our bodies and brains, which inscribe the experience of appreciation into our physical beings.
What I just wrote is another way of stating Hebb’s Law. Hebb’s Law simply states: “Cells (neurons) that fire together, wire together.”
This means that every time you experience something; a feeling, an emotion, a thought, you are physically rewiring your brain so that it becomes more efficient at experiencing it.
This is huge. It’s such a simple concept and it makes perfect logical sense. How else do we learn if not through physical changes which take place in the brain? If we learn something knew, like someone’s name, our brain has to be in a different configuration in order to store the information.
Yet so few of us are aware of this profoundly life-changing fact. I first learned about this in 2016 and have been applying it ever since. I have learned more in the past few years than I ever have before in my life, over an equal period of time. And my life is much better because of it.
And most everyone can do it. In any field.
The Brain/Mind Is Trainable
Take Rüdiger Gamm, a German “mental calculator.” In school, Gamm was a self-proclaimed hopeless case when it came to math. But one day, when listening to a mental calculation championship on the radio, he discovered that he had a knack for performing mental calculations. He then trained himself in the field of mental math and a year later appeared in the German TV show, “Wetten, dass..?” (“Wanna Bet?”) and won.
In the 2008 Mental Calculation World Cup, Gamm recited 81100. It took him two minutes and thirty seconds.
Isn’t that absolutely extraordinary?
Gamm would probably not have been able to perform that gargantuan mental calculation the day he was listening to the radio. But after training his mind to do mental calculations, he was able to do it.
His mental calculation neurons fired together and wired together. He repeated this until the process of doing mental calculation became automatic. Check out this wild video:
First of all, woah…
Second, doesn’t it seem like Gamm enters into a trance-like state when he’s reciting the numbers? His astounding mental calculations, which would be impossible for all of us, are habitual to him. Like breathing is to us.
Of course, it seems like Gamm does have some sort of talent for doing these sorts of things. But according to Anders Ericsson, an expert on expert performance, and author of “Peak: Secrets From The New Science Of Expertise”, the effect of talent on performance is insignificant when compared to training.
In other words, Gamm’s talent probably doesn’t reside in doing mental math, but rather in his ability to consistently dedicate himself to the task of training his mind to perform mental calculations. In other other words, talent is overrated.
I want to leave Rüdiger Gamm behind now and focus on the experience of appreciation.
Our Bodies Are Also Constantly Rearranging Themselves
So now you understand at a basic level that every experience you have changes your brain. But the change doesn’t stop there. The body also changes with each of our experiences.
The body, like the brain, is also in a permanent state of rearrangement. It’s constantly adapting itself to our internal states and the demands of the environment. I like the statement: “If you want to get better at sitting on the couch, then sit on the couch.” Our bodies are ceaselessly tuning themselves to their surroundings.
Every time we experience an emotion, chemical changes occur in our body which correspond to that emotion. When we experience fear our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline. When we experience love our bodies release serotonin and oxytocin. Each of these chemicals has profound effects on the body and brain. The first pair put us in a state of high alert. The second, in a state of relaxed creativeness.
And There’s More
Every time the body experiences each of type of chemistry, it rearranges itself so that the same chemistry becomes easier to experience.
It’s like a biochemical version of Hebb’s Law: biochemistry which is experienced once is more likely to be experienced in the future.
We all know people who seem to be happy most of the time. These people have biochemistries which tend towards happiness.
We also know people who are depressed most of the time. These people have biochemistries which tend towards depression. For a long time it was thought that depression was a mental state that a person could “snap out” of or walk off, if only they wanted to. Now we know that depression actually has a biochemical causation, too. Not only is a depressed person’s brain wired for depression, their biochemistry is also geared towards producing a state of depression. In this sense, it’s not the person’s choice to be depressed; their body and brain choose for them.
Which brings us back to appreciation
What We Appreciate Appreciates
When we experience appreciation we are rearranging our body and brain to experience appreciation more deeply. Like the ruts left by a car as it drives over earth or the grooves in a vinyl record. I hope that at this point in the article this makes perfect logical sense. This is all scientifically valid knowledge, nothing mystical. Yet.
Now I invite to take some time to imagine something. Imagine giving something to someone and that person is enormously appreciative of it. He/she shows you his gratitude with a huge smile or a hug or some kind words. You can tell the person is incredibly appreciative of what you did.
How does that make you feel? Great, obviously.
Does that make you more or less likely to give something to that person again in the future? Obviously more likely.
Here Comes The Mystical Part
Life responds to our appreciation in the exact same way a person responds to it.
If we appreciate the beautiful day we get to spend outside, life will give us more of those days. When we appreciate the business we did with someone, life will give us more business. When we appreciate our health, life will give us more health.
Appreciating things makes us feel good. And when we feel good we are more likely to perform the appreciated activity again.
This can also be said in a non-mystical way, for those hard-nosed logical readers of mine. Life is made up of people. No matter where we go we will always need other people to live and succeed. People always come with opportunities; to learn, to earn and to share. If a person feels appreciated for the opportunity he/she brought to you, what will that person do? Bring you more opportunities, obviously! You can’t predict how the opportunities will come, but you can be certain that they will.
What we appreciate appreciates.
How Can You Apply This In Your Life
Simple. Appreciate more!
Tell people you appreciate what they do for you. If you have a success in life, sit back and relish in appreciation for it. If you have a wonderful relationship/family, appreciate it and you will do more to grow that relationship/family. The more you appreciate what you have the more of it you get. It’s a self-reinforcing virtuous cycle.
But there’s more.
If there’s something you want in life, experiencing the appreciation of having it, even when you currently don’t, makes life more likely to give it to you.
Sounds crazy, or down right impossible, right? Well, it works. One of our most powerful abilities as humans is our ability to imagine. Our imagination is limited only by…well… our imagination. We can literally imagine anything.
We can even imagine ourselves already in possession of the things we want, whatever they are, and we experience the appreciation of already having received it, we communicate to our unconscious (emotional) mind that this is the way the world is.
And the unconscious mind sets about to make it happen.
We cannot communicate to our unconscious mind with words. We can only communicate with images and emotions. The unconscious mind is ancient, it doesn’t understand language. It communicates in images and emotions. Read this article of mine for more on this.
Appreciate Before Receiving
Experiencing appreciation for something before we have it is a skill. Like with any skill, it takes practice to master it. But everyone is capable of doing it. Just imagine what this does for our quality of life.
When we live as though we already have what we want, what is there to worry about? What is there to stress over? Nothing! And it’s when we are relaxed when we are the most creative and productive.
This doesn’t mean you don’t take action to get what you want, you do. But when you do, the action you take is much more effective, more powerful, at creating what you want than if you take action while being stressed and anxious.
If you’re attracted to women you know exactly what this is like. What will a woman find more attractive? A calm, relaxed and confident person? Or one who is anxious, worried and desperate?
We all know the answer to the question. (I just asked my partner Petra this question and she looked at me like I was being silly, that’s how clear the answer is!)
We’ve learned that we have to condition our satisfaction (appreciation) in life to the receipt of things; jobs, relationships, health. But the more me condition our present satisfaction, the more we condition our bodies/brains to experience lack; so that even when we DO receive what we want, we’re so used to feeling lack that it does little or nothing for us.
It really is a paradox. The more relaxed, carefree and certain we are that we already have what we want, the more we receive. But the more we focus on what we don’t have, the more we struggle and strive, the more we push away what we want.
Live The Paradox
We’ve got to live the paradox. But most people are not capable of doing that. Most people want certainty and are willing to sacrifice all spontaneity in their life in order to get it. They are unaware that certainty leads to certain decay and boredom. We are living beings playing the game of duality, certainty must always be balanced with uncertainty, for us to be truly alive (read this article for more on that).
Life is unpredictable. Things come and go into and out of our life and we have very little control over that. What we can control is our attention (consciousness). Appreciate what you have and you will get more of it. Appreciate what you don’t have as if you already have it and you will get it.
It really is magic.
To our wealth and success.