Oct 16 2017

November Journal: What does it mean to be a People of APPRECIATION?

Published by at 6:53 pm under Minister's Musings

What Does It Mean to Be a People of Appreciation?

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

 

In “Gratitude and Appreciation: What’s the Difference?” Deborah Price offers this wisdom:

“Gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows and flourishes—if we’re paying attention. That is, we can be grateful for something in our lives without really appreciating it. [To] shift from gratitude to appreciation involves being more present—more thoughtfully aware and active in reflecting on the reasons we feel grateful about something or someone…. When we truly have appreciation, we bring to mind what about someone or something makes us feel brighter, lighter, happier, more inspired, energized, and loved. And that’s a good thing, regardless of what’s going on [in the world] that is beyond our control and can test our gratefulness.”[1]

Just as real Love for me is a muscular, active verb, so too appreciation can become an active life-changing spiritual practice. In these challenging times, practicing appreciation—making it a way of life—can keep us strong, hopeful, and connected.

So let’s turn our attentions in this energizing direction this month, dearly loved community! Please take a look at the Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises offered here. These help us to take this month’s theme into our daily lives and witness how they can change us for the better.

Choose one or more of these exercises. Try it on for some period of time this month—an hour, a day, a week … Then join me and the ministerial team for our Soul Matters Reflections Group on this theme: Sunday, December 3, 1:30-3:00 p.m. in the Ramsden Fireside Room. We will offer each other the energizing connections of deep listening and sharing—and launch our holidays with appreciation!

 

With my deepest appreciation for all that you are and all that you do,

 

Rev. Nancy

 

P.S. Special appreciation to Small-Group Ministry Content Team leader Julia Rodríguez for all the resources that have inspired and created this essay and the exercises!

Soul Matters Spiritual Exercises:

Becoming a People of Appreciation!

  1. Make a “Life Appreciation” list. Most of us have a bucket list—a list of things that we hope to do in our life. This list is the opposite. Make a list of all the things that you have done and seen and experienced in your life–items big and small. For instance: tasted salt water, moved to a new state/country, learned some words of a new language, climbed a mountain, mentored a child, seen a bear in the wild … See how long you can make this life-appreciation list. What surprises you about this exercise? How does this list make you feel about yourself and your life?

 

  1. Find something to appreciate about each person you interact with during the course of a day or a week. When possible, offer appreciation in the form of thanks, encouragement, or validation. What surprises you about this exercise? How does it make you feel about you move through your day?

 

  1. Send notes of appreciation for no special reason. For instance, “Your smile lights up my day.” Choose one day a week—or one time of day—that is your note-writing day or time. How does this practice make you feel? What do you discover from doing this practice over a few days or weeks?

 

  1. Use your senses to appreciate the world as you pass through it. Spend time noticing the smells, sounds, tastes, touch, and sights. Keep a list—on your phone, in a journal, in your mind or heart—of what you notice. How does this practice change how you move through your day?

 

  1. What do you appreciate most about yourself? How can you treat yourself like someone who matters? This month, offer yourself appreciation for your best qualities and good deeds. Write yourself a note of appreciation and mail it to your home or work. What gestures of appreciation mean the most to you? What does this teach you about expressing appreciation for others? What part of this practice will you carry forward into December and the new year?

[1] http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/yourdailyspiritualstimulus/2009/04/gratitude-and-appreciation-whats-the-difference.html

 

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