“I like to walk alone on country paths,
rice plants and wild grasses on both sides,
putting each foot down on the earth
in mindfulness, knowing
that I walk on the wondrous earth.
In such moments, existence is a miraculous
and mysterious reality.
People usually consider walking on water
or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle
is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle
which we don’t even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves,
the black, curious eyes of a child–
our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I truly believe in feeling and showing my appreciation for everything in my life. I have it pretty darned good, and I know it. But sometimes I find myself taking things for granted. I forget how fortunate I really am, so I decided to find a way to encourage myself to be more mindful in this area.
Back in mid-December of 2015, I began keeping what I call an “Appreciation Journal.” The first thing each morning, and the last thing every evening, I write in this journal. Each morning I choose three things that I appreciate in my life. Each evening I choose three more things.
Sometimes I write only one sentence about each thing that I appreciate, basically just listing it, and there are times that I write several sentences, or even paragraphs, explaining why I appreciate this thing. (It doesn’t have to be a thing; it can be an event or circumstance…anything that I feel appreciation for.) Although I try not to repeat something within a day, I often find myself appreciating something that is in the journal at some other point…that’s fine with me…I appreciate it, so it belongs.
I got myself a nicely bound notebook, one that felt special to me, and I put it beside my bed, along with a pen. Each morning when I wake up, and each evening when I go to sleep, I see the journal and I am reminded to write in it. I haven’t missed a day since I began.
I have done this now for more than 7 months. I am well into my second notebook. Every once in a while I go back and read some previous entries, and I can’t think of a time when this has not increased my appreciation of the life I live.
This practice has given me the opportunity to feel good about my life. Each morning, I start off my day in an attitude of appreciation, and more often than not, the feeling continues with me throughout the day. I become more aware of the good things in my life. I go to bed each night with an attitude of appreciation, and I find myself sleeping peacefully and soundly.
I have also noticed that, as I continue my journey, I find more and more things that I appreciate coming into my life. Perhaps this is just my imagination. Perhaps I am just appreciating my life to a greater extent…but does it matter? I am happier. I am living my life to the best of my current ability, and I am enjoying the process.
Now there are many people who might say to me, “I keep a gratitude journal,” isn’t that the same thing? As I mentioned in my post about word choice, to me there is a difference between the words appreciation and gratitude. In the long view, I get that it is all just semantics, but, word choice is very important to me, and so, I will continue to call my journal an “Appreciation Journal” even though the intent is the same.
There is no feeling quite like appreciation. I encourage each of you to take up this process. You don’t need to mimic what I do; you can find your own way. Do what feels right for you.
Do you keep an appreciation or gratitude journal? Do you find the practice to be enlightening? Do you find yourself happy for the experience? If you don’t keep a journal, are you going to start? Leave a comment and let the community know what you think. We’re listening.