All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other –
Only the mountain and I.
Li Po – “Alone Looking at The Mountain”
It was said that it is difficult to be content with few things, but impossible with many. There is something about spending time in the mountains or in some other natural scene with seemingly few things that you could call your own that calms the mind and soothes the soul. I suppose it is the fact that such scenes tend to evoke a deep appreciation for the nature of life, for its selflessness, generosity, adaptivity, etc.
Appreciation opens the door to contentment. If you ever find your self short on contentment, you are also likely lacking in appreciation. The latter inevitably leads to the former, if you are genuine in your appreciation. Even a moment of appreciation will lift your spirits, albeit momentarily.
To appreciate fully, you must disengage from the practice and application of ingratitude. Just as appreciation is the door to contentment, ungratefulness opens the floodgates of discontent. Unfortunately, ingratitude does to the bulwark against the ills of life what a small leak does to a dam. Create just a small opening and you will soon be drowning in grievances and hardship.
Conversely, appreciation works with miraculous precision and swiftness to repair the breeches, heal the wounds and smooth over the wrinkles in your life. If you don’t believe me, try it! But don’t give it a half-hearted, “see I told you so” effort. Truly appreciate the world around you, animate and inanimate. Marvel at its beauty, ingenuity, grace and poetry. Relax into it. Give yourself to it. You won’t be disappointed.
4 thoughts on “Appreciation and Contentment”
I have also found that appreciation opens the doors of your own heart and shines a radiant light for others, too!
Ah Gregg, another gem. I know it’s true that gratitude changes ones perspective. I remember vividly times when I’ve experienced this and it seems as if the whole landscape changes, colors or brighter, even traffic seems to move more orderly, in short EVERYTHING changes… It’s as if the attitude of gratitude turns up the internal “love of life” gauge. Working in the healing arts I feel that the attitude of appreciation is a critical one, and I think studies are beginning to show that it changes the very structure of ones tissues.
Appreciation is such a vital and precious quality, and yet it cannot be forced or superficially engineered. In fact, it really isn’t so much something a person does as it is something a person IS, in the most core sense. The radiance of appreciation increases value as it flows from the center of Being, activating heart, mind and body, resonating with whatever in the environment can be found that is of like quality.
Conversely, as you indicate, there is the cancerous quality of ingratitude, fueled by resentment and hopelessness – an emphasis on nothingness that draws potential into an ever-widening void. I know which state is more appealing to me!
I once read that reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it. I think the same could be said for appreciation. I think of it as the gateway spirit to infinite creation. The paradox is ingratitude is the gateway to infinite disintegration, yet is most forgivingly rationalized by mankind. We could see this as one of the most foundational of our definitive choices; it determines the attitude of our life’s direction. Wonderful post, thank you!