How To Practice Appreciation

To practice appreciation, you have to actively work on it. There are several ways to do this, but you also have to constantly remind yourself. The easiest way is to pause for a moment with the objects we use every day and be grateful for them. However, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.

Personally, I've long had a hard time living a grateful lifestyle because I've always felt like there wasn't enough to be grateful for in my life, but I've never been so wrong.

In the meantime, I am sure that if you actively work on being grateful, you will find over a thousand things to be grateful for on a normal day.
The problem is that we take a lot for granted and are not aware of how well we are doing and what we have to be grateful for.

Now let's take a look at a very unremarkable average day.

You wake up in the morning in your bed:
- We wake up
- We have a roof over our head
- We have a bed (blanket and pillow)
- We are healthy

Now we go to the bathroom to freshen up:
- We have a toothbrush and toothpaste
- We have a flush toilet and we don't have to defecate in a hole in the ground.
- We have running drinkable water
- We have a shower and various hygiene items

Now we go to the kitchen fresh and clean and prepare our breakfast or snack for work:
- We have coffee, milk, bread, fruit, ...
- We have a functioning Nose to smell the fresh coffee
- We can choose what we want to eat because we have such a wide range of foods to choose from

So we finally make our way to work or school:
- You have a bike, car, public transport or we have it so good that we can walk to work.
- We have the opportunity to earn money

After work, it's time for a well-deserved break:
- We have time to use the way we want to use it
- We can meet with friends
- Look at something
- Do sport
- Pursue our hobbies

When the day turns to evening:
- Let's have some dinner
- Read a book
- Drink a tea or a beer

I hope this exemplary list shows at least in a rudimentary way what one can be thankful for and I am sure that it names only a fraction of what one can be thankful for in everyday life.
The important thing, though, is to keep in mind as often as you can what you have to be thankful for.

Take things for granted

When I was traveling in the Kazakh steppe, there was a more frequent situation of not being able to shower for several days. This circumstance in combination with a very hot climate, the regular sunscreen anointment as well as the extraordinarily dusty air, led to a sweaty sticky dirty layer on the skin, which was more than just unpleasant.

After a few days on the steppe, there was nothing we wanted more than a cold refreshing shower.
Ooooh boy, when the time came that you had the opportunity to take a shower, it had absolutely nothing to do with a normal standard shower at home. Despite the much better standard at home.

Just the fact of the shower and the fact that it wasn't always available when you wanted it showed me how much you take things for granted.

Simon appreciating an outdoor shower under palm trees

Before I get in the shower at home, I try to go back to those moments when I felt really dirty and grimy.
I try to consciously enjoy and appreciate the shower.

Of course, you can apply this to significantly more aspects in life than just showering.

Since there is no such well-developed baking culture in the Far East as there is here in Germany, I and my friends often raved about eating a simple pretzel roll or pretzel.
Remembering how much you missed good pastries before you ate them can also make you appreciate them much more.

The same goes for coffee, your own bed, the friends you have at home, ...

Often we learn to appreciate things only when we no longer have them. If we have them then, however, we quickly appreciate them again no longer worth. The important thing here is that we keep in mind as often as possible that it is often the everyday things for which we should be grateful.

Be grateful for your experiences

The easiest way, of course, is to be grateful for positive experiences. Whether it was a nice evening with friends or watching a good movie.
From my own experience, however, I know far too well that people take these moments for granted or forget about them within a few days or hours.

Again, you can actively practice gratitude by reminiscing as often as you can about the situations you've been through and trying to recall every single detail you can remember.

Whether it was a good conversation with friends by the fire, a compliment received, or simply a cool sip of delicious beer on a hot summer day.
There is much to be thankful for, if only you look for it.

Often situations happen to us that at first glance hardly offer anything positive, which makes it difficult for us to be grateful for these experiences.

But I believe that if we look hard enough, we can find something to be grateful for in every experience, no matter how dark and bad.

Everyone who has been broken up with knows how painful the first time after the breakup can be. You no longer have your usual daily routines, what you have built together seems lost forever and you ask yourself if you are not enough.
However, this situation also offers a huge potential, after all, you always have to make compromises in a relationship. However, when you are alone again, you no longer have to make these compromises and you have more time and opportunities to find yourself and reorient yourself. For this possibility, for example, you can definitely be grateful.

When I was younger and did more longboarding, of course, it put me down properly from time to time. Again, a situation that at first glance does not seem as if it would be particularly suitable for practicing gratitude.
But in fact, on the one hand, we can look back on before the accident and be grateful for how well our bodies function normally and that we can use our bodies at all to the extent that we can and are not confined to a wheelchair or bed.

However, we can also enjoy during the healing process how the body repairs the injury on its own with a little food and drink, without us having to actively do anything.
Personally, it always fascinates me to see how a crust of blood is formed and new skin grows underneath it.

Of course, sometimes it is easier sometimes harder to gain something grateful from a situation. I also don't want to say that being grateful and being happy is always the same.

But isn't it something beautiful that something can make us feel that way, after all sadness also makes us feel alive. It makes us feel human.

We only feel the sadness now because before that we felt something really beautiful.

There are no highs without lows and no lows without highs.
I have already covered this topic in a speech by Alan Watts. If you are more interested in it: just have a look at Alan Watts on Ups and Downs.

However, it is also important that in times of grief we do not focus only on the bad, because it can quickly happen that we develop a selective focus. The problem here would be that if you focus primarily on the negative things that happen to you, you hardly focus on the things for which you can be grateful.

So it's perfectly okay to feel grief, to give in to it, and to give it a hearing - as in the quote from Carl Gustav Jung the woman in black. However, even in grief we should try to find things for which we are grateful.

Let's get back to the original topic of this article:

Practicing gratitude is a lengthy but rewarding effort.
I found it much more difficult at first, but just as sports get easier over time or you progress in learning an instrument, it gets easier and easier to be grateful the more you practice.

It helps a lot not to take anything for granted and to constantly keep your eyes open for what good happens to you that day.
Gratitude should be practiced and, above all, lived as often as possible.

This is me being grateful above the clouds in Appenzell (Switzerland)

Finally, I would like to point out that we have a lot of privileges here in the Western countries. Food from the supermarket, water from the tap, peace and health. Of course, this list can be extended much further.

It's just important to realize how much we have and how well we are doing.

There are many people in the world who would like to have what you have, the life you lead.
So be grateful for what you have. Every day a little bit more. You will not regret it.

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