The Art of Appreciation
Currently I am on holiday in Western Australia, Perth to be exact, and got here in the early morning of Monday 5th. On Tuesday we drove 4 hours south west to a small place called Pemberton and stayed with the owner, family and great friends, at a beautiful place called Stonebarn; a luxury hand-crafted lodge on the Warren River.
It is winter over here so for me it is cold having become easily accustomed to the searing heat of Kuala Lumpur where I have lived for the past 3 years. During the day, we all donned wellington boots, coats and went digging for truffles (You can google this delicacy as this is not a blog about food!).
It was damp, very wet and muddy. It could have been so easy to slip into the old routine of moaning about the weather (A very English trait) and complaints about the climate, and what are we doing here kind of thing. I’m sure you know what I mean.
As we were all walking along the rows of small trees to find more truffles (Once you have found one you have found them all) I could feel an old internal tape of my past resurfacing. The old tape I am referring to is the one I mentioned above; a spool of moaning and groaning.
So instead I erased the tape before it even began to play. I knew it would have incessantly been on a loop in my mind and would have inevitably ruined the experience. Knowing that I can control my thoughts and that I can choose what to think, I decided to use what some people call mindfulness. I simply refer to it as appreciation.
I said to my beautiful daughter who was walking with me, to be fully aware of where she was. You are in Western Australia Jazzie, in the grounds of one of the top 25 destinations in Australia and New Zealand where rock stars and celebrities stay! You are walking in the forest and finding truffles. Now this is the kind of stuff that memories are made of. You will be able to tell this story to your grandchildren one day.
I went one step further internally. I became acutely aware of feeling the cool chill on my cheeks, the sound of the heavy rain on my hood and the clear, fresh invigorating air filling my lungs with each breath. I was saying to myself, ‘I am walking in the forest with my family, my best friends and new friends. I am in nature with the birds, peacocks and other various wildlife. Look how wonderful the lush, green forest is. How many other people can say they have done this or will be able to do it in the future?’ I was really in the moment.
What I told my daughter was also for me too. Or may be it was more for me? Probably the latter. I don’t think the old tapes ever get completely erased. They lurk somewhere amongst us. Well, in me they do.
But oh how to be able to do this with my thoughts. As I said, it could have been so easy to play that old tape filled with moans and groans. There was a time when I would have done exactly that. But by using this small but powerful technique my enjoyment of the experience went up tenfold and my true appreciation of where I was and what I was doing has made the event more memorable.
I have often found that by doing this I can turn the most mundane of times into something special. I feel blessed at having the control over my thoughts. And believe you me, for many years I would have played the other tape on autopilot. But life is far more enjoyable now, than it ever was then.
So the next time you find yourself about to rant inside your head with that same old voice who scolds the temporary circumstances you may be in, remember that you can change your perspective of the event by simply looking for what there is to appreciate. And I believe there is always something if you look hard enough.
And most importantly, you have the choice and therefore the control, to choose which way you want to play it out in your head.
What are you going to choose to do?