Appreciation – such a beautiful word.

It means:

  1. Recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
  2. A full understanding of a situation.

I often sit (or stand) back and look at my life with appreciation.  How wonderful life feels right now and how grateful I feel to be alive.

I appreciate a log fire on a cold winter’s day, the crisp, cold air on my daily walk, the kindness and love of my husband, twinkling lights on the Christmas tree, a bowl of bran flakes for breakfast, my gorgeous children, my beautiful home – even the piles of boxes that are the aftermath of Christmas Day.

I sit here right now in appreciation of my life and how far I’ve come – and how much delight I’ll experience in what’s next.

I remember swimming the Solent back in 2013 on a beautiful sunny day in late summer and stopping halfway across.  I looked at how far I’d already swum then looked across at where I was headed and I just floated for a moment in pure joy and appreciation.  It was truly magical.

Of course it might be easy to look at me and my life and think:

 “Well it’s ok for you Melina, you have a loving family, you live in a beautiful home – of course you appreciate life.  But my life’s not like that – I don’t have all of that, I don’t have ….enough money, enough time, I’m living in a house that’s too small/too shabby/too messy/needs too much work, I have a lousy relationship with my partner, my kids are ungrateful ….”

However my appreciation for life has nothing to do with my circumstances (even though it might look that way) but everything to do with the inner work I’ve been doing over the past few years.

You see my life hasn’t really changed very much on the outside.  I’ve been in the same house for over 5 years, I’m still running a coaching business (although my focus is different), still married, still have two kids.

However 5 years ago when we moved I was frustrated and stressed – worried we wouldn’t be able to afford our lifestyle, afraid we’d have to move and I’d have to tell people I failed.  I was frustrated and grumpy a lot of the time without enough money or enough time.  I didn’t feel appreciated and whilst I loved my home I didn’t appreciate my life.

So what shifted?

Instead of wishing things were different I started to appreciate what I did have.

Instead of noticing the things my loved ones DIDN’T do, I started to notice the wonderful things they did do.

Instead of noticing the mess, I started to notice the areas that were beautiful and tidy – even if that was only one room I didn’t use very often.

Instead of looking at all the areas that I needed to improve, I started to recognise all the work I had done.

Instead of looking at how far I had to go, I looked at how far I’d come.

It wasn’t easy because we’re used to picking up on our faults – not our accomplishments.

I remember congratulating myself one tea-time saying how proud I was of my mashed potato (I make really good mash) and my daughter told me off for boasting! .  She was about 9 at the time – and I have no idea where that came from because it certainly wasn’t from me.  Thankfully that seems to have shifted and she now lets me know the things she’s proud of herself for accomplishing.

As I practised appreciation I realised there was more and more in my life to appreciate.

And amazingly as I started to appreciate more I noticed my behaviour shifting – I noticed myself tidying up after me so my house wasn’t as messy.

I noticed myself getting ready sooner so I wasn’t late.

I noticed I wasn’t as stressed whilst cooking.

I noticed that I was able to focus more – instead of getting distracted constantly (I’m still working on that one!)

The truth is there’s always another level for us to get to.

We can always do more, have more , be more – it’s a never ending cycle of more!

However when we give ourselves the gift of appreciation this starts to shift – and we naturally accomplish more without the angst – without feeling that we’ll never get “there”.

What do you appreciate in your life right now?