This may seem a slightly odd question, so let me explain. Appreciation gives us lovely feelings and can aid our wellbeing significantly. Wilfully being appreciative is not always easy though. For example, I often look at the stars wanting to feel a deep sense of wonder and awe (possibly to recreate similar feelings I had as a child). When I do not feel this, unhelpful thoughts arise such as ‘I should be feeling such a sense of wow that the stars I’m looking at are light years away so, there’s millions of them, each star is like a sun and there’s planets revolving around them …..’. I then find it frustrating to feel what I expect to feel.
There are 2 key words in the last sentences which were ‘should’ and ‘expect’. When we use the word ‘should’, it often means we’re doing something to fulfil a societal norm or expectation – it’s not a value that come directly from within us. Therefore, ‘I should be feeling….. ‘ does not come from within us but from outside of us. Also, expectations can cause great disappointment if they are not realistic and it’s important to assess how our expectations affect us. If they are reasonable, adjustment is necessary.
Letting go of the unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others can free us to experience things as they are. Sitting by a Bracebridge Pool in Sutton Park this afternoon, I wanted to experience a sense of appreciation. In achieving this, I altered my mind-set from ‘I should feel’ to ‘what do I feel’. This movement from an external demand to an internal enquiry allowed me to be in the moment and to appreciate the surroundings exactly as they were.
Please let me know if this has raised any thoughts within you by adding a comment as I’d love to hear others views and experiences.