No matter where you are in your life I know that for each of you a practice of appreciation will add to the richness that you already have. It has the power to move you to something different and better such as a deeper self-love, a better connection with others, and greater creativity.

Many, if not all, of you already practice some form of it. Let me describe how we first did it in a group setting. In one of our monthly meetings, I asked each woman there to spend sometime writing a list of the ways she appreciated herself. Afterwards, we focused on each person and helped her add to her list. The lists became longer and longer as appreciative comments poured forth.

Each individual seemed to be touched by what others had to say about her. Initially there were beginnings of protests from the woman being appreciated. That was quickly discouraged to allow the positive comments to be absorbed. In later meetings they spoke about how much it meant to them.

As I am writing this I remember a story that I received through a forwarded mail making its way through Internet connections. This story is about a school teacher who asked each of her students to write something “nice” about each of their peers. When each got their list compiled from everyone’s comments, all were surprised to read how everyone saw something positive in them.

Years later at the funeral of one of these students, the mother of the deceased told this teacher about how important this list was to her son and wanted to thank her. As others heard that comment, they reached into their wallets and purses to pull out well-worn sheets they had carried with them. So many had treasured these statements so that they had it with them to remind themselves that they were more than how they felt in any given moment.

Why am I reminding you about appreciation? Unless we take the time, step aside, and look at ourselves in this way, we often have ideas of ourselves that dis-empower us. Many beliefs we have about ourselves aren’t positive and uplifting, are they?

As you are remembering those negative beliefs you are realizing how insidious and unpleasant they are, aren’t you? Because you are reading this article you are becoming aware of the connection between what you have in your life right now and the limiting ideas of yourself you’ve carried most of your life. Yes, nothing will change until something is done about these self-depreciating ideas about you.

Recently I wrote to a friend to express my appreciation of how uniquely gifted she is in so many ways. This was in response to a conversation in which it was clear she was looking at herself in a narrow way such that her value was limited. Therefore, she couldn’t think of what else she could do in terms of having a purpose, doing meaningful work or service. She was stuck, and her current limiting ideas of who she is anchored her in being boxed in.

It is good to make a conscious effort to change ideas of who you are because otherwise you are on default programming. That is, you have ideas imprinted in you from early in childhood. You took in how others treated you. When you were ignored, abused or neglected you decided on an idea of yourself that made the treatment make sense.

Yes, since most of us didn’t experience unconditional love our idea of ourselves growing up was limited. Not only limited but when we look more deeply, we uncover beliefs such as “I am unimportant.” “I am unlovable.” “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I’ll just survive.” Such beliefs dampen our possibilities for happiness and fuller self-development.

Here is another example. I had a deeply illuminating experience in the two weeks of training I went through in June. During one exercise, I focused on a particular problem. What I learned was that I never celebrated the completion of anything I did such as writing an article or completing a workshop or getting a Ph.D. for that matter. Once done I barely paused. I may have breathed a sigh of relief or thought “hooray” but I never celebrated the accomplishment. But more important I never celebrated the gifts that I helped to create “it.”

Here is the lesson for me: if I don’t take the time to truly appreciate and celebrate my unique gifts, isn’t this tantamount to dis-respecting the unique expression of Divine Intelligence in me? And when I do this, don’t I restrict the flow of Divine energy or Intelligence through me?

It is so joyful when we acknowledge and sit in awe of what comes through us, isn’t it? And doesn’t it allow more to flow through? It widens the channel and increases the flow. And the flow is not just about creativity. It’s also vitality and love.

If appreciation is also extended outward imagine what would happen? Don’t you think that when we begin to appreciate the people and the situations around us that life can change in magical and subtle ways? It is a wonderful experiment to say something appreciative to someone that you’ve been having difficulty with. Rather than puzzling over what to do about him or what’s wrong with him, express the other side of the coin and you move in the opposite direction.

It can be about the “smaller” things in everyday life too. There is magic happening all around us. There are signs everywhere that something more is operating in our lives. For example, someone calls out of the blue. You hadn’t been in touch for awhile but you’ve been thinking about them recently. Or when your intuition tells you what the perfect gift for someone is and it turns out to be the right thing. Or you read something in a book that turns out to answer you’ve been seeking.

Yes, it is rewarding to choose to believe that spirit is ever with you and is “speaking” to you. All that is required is allowing your ears to hear and your eyes to see. Even these seemingly mundane occurrences can be seen as the mysterious ways the universe works.

I’m looking for the magic in my everyday life. I’m sure that it’s always there but I forget to appreciate “it” as such. And as I recognize its presence, large and small, I will expect each day to be filled with even more magic. And it is happening, more and more.

So now, what action will you take? Decide if there is something you can use here and commit to doing something with it. For example, you may create a list of “what I can appreciate about myself.” You can begin the list yourself, and then perhaps ask each kind-hearted friend you know to say what they appreciate about you. Or, you can say one thing of appreciation to a different person in your life each day. Make a list and note any “consequences.”

Or, you can start a list of the magical things that happen to you each day, and at the end of the day, use the list as part of the gratitude prayer. Or, use all three for a maximum effect.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Uemura, Ph.D., presents an amalgam of principles and techniques that reflect the wisdom of her personal and professional experiences. These combine cutting edge concepts for deep and rapid transformation with the gifts from ancient traditions. A key principle is honoring and insisting on each person’s uniqueness of life path and life purpose. An experienced psychologist of almost 3 decades, she works currently as a certified Master Results Coach, certified Life Coach, Performance Consultant plus has expertise in many other fields. As author of Invest in You and The Treasures of Midlife, she is pleased to share and teach from her continuing self-development.