There's a lot of ways to work with appreciation. You can pull out a pen and paper and list all the things you love, the things you need, the things you depend on. You can remember someone or something that is no longer in your life. There's also that famous workshop exercise where you have to eat a raisin or a potato chip very, very slowly.
But then there's just the simple checking in right where you are, wherever you are and discovering the appreciation that is already present.
Right now for me: It's early, barely sunrise. It's not perfectly quiet but there's a quality of weight and hush that's unique to early morning. The busyness of the day hasn't kicked in yet. From my open window, I can hear the distant woosh of the ever-present city traffic and there's one little bird singing a simple little morning song. It's cool, so nice. My tea is hot and strong and this morning the milk didn't curdle when I poured it in.
So, all-in-all, not so bad.
There's also the appreciation that is built into the way things naturally are. It's August and there's so much to appreciate in the kitchen it's almost indecent. Because I'm a city dweller, I cannot tell you a lovely story of wandering into my garden and picking fresh tomatoes or complain/brag about the fecundity of my zucchini plants. I can say that there was a sweet burst of joy when I unpacked my farm box and discovered the first tomatoes and corn and sweet potatoes and melons.
Not so obvious and easy, but there will be much to appreciate in six months when it's January, too. Hearty winer kales, turnips, the tomatoes and pickles and apricot jam from this summer all lined up in jars on the shelf. It just takes a quiet moment, and actually remembering to notice.
When people talk about wanting to be happy, appreciation plays a big role in that emotional state. And the key to appreciation is that in most circumstances, there is always something there to notice and be grateful for. Even when you would think there isn't. This is why the diary of Anne Frank is so universally appealing to us. This is why there is profound beauty and joy in hospice work.
One of the reasons to cultivate appreciation is that, as mentioned in the beginning, all things are fleeting, transient, evanescent. But whatever it is, if you've drunk deep enough of it, it's not so hard to let it go when it's time.
What is here right now for you to appreciate?