What we appreciate, appreciates.

There is a saying that, what we appreciate, appreciates. Last week on a call with a nurse coach colleague, I experienced this first hand. At the end of our call, he said, "Can I just appreciate you for a minute?" 

"Um, sure okay." I said. 

And then he shared a few thoughtful things he was appreciating about me. Honestly, I can't even remember what they were, but I do remember how I felt listening to him. I felt SO DAMN GOOD. 

I felt lighter, like he was literally lifting me up. And it made me want to share this with every person I came into contact with. Since then, I have practiced this appreciation with several clients, both of my daughters, a few friends, my husband and even my own body. Every time, I left the experience feeling better and more connected. 

When we’re living in a state of appreciation, our lives are so much more enjoyable and we feel more connected and present.  And when Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making, asked children what they want from their parents, what did they say? They want us to be less tired and less stressed. Um, YES PLEASE. I want that too. Now, how are we going to get there?

First, awareness. As we become more aware of the patterns and habits that pull us into chaos, often beginning with our thoughts, we can start to make different choices. In the moments of chaos and stress, we can pause, notice our tension, and ask the simple question, “What am I grateful for right now?” Just asking the question causes our bodies to release more dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters that elevate mood and shift our biology. “It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place,” says Alex Korb, PhD, author of The Upward Spiral. “Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.”

Having a gratitude practice is the foundation of any spiritual path and has even been identified by author and speaker, Dr. Brene Brown, as a daring greatly strategy for overcoming the tendency to numb or shield ourselves from feeling vulnerable- therefore unleashing our courage, creativity, and unique strengths.  In her book, Daring Greatly, she writes, “If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough, and we’re enough.”

So, what are you grateful for right now? How can you appreciate what is going well and notice how it appreciates all day and all week long?

Here are a couple of ideas:
- Jot down a list on a piece of paper, planner or journal
- Post a Facebook status update that is a statement of gratitude (or even tag few people in it)
- Write a thank you note or email or text
- Take a picture of something you're grateful for and share it on Instagram
- Call someone you're appreciating and tell them.