We can turn our gratitude into our philosophy. In other words, to change our lives, all we need do is change our thinking. Philosophy is essentially what you know, and I would have to add, what you think and thereby feel about what you know. It might be a combination of beliefs, and a belief is simply a thought we keep thinking, until we decide to think something else over and over again, changing our belief to something else. So, refining a philosophy is as simple as changing your thoughts about something, or someone. And, the word refining means to me to make it more clear, or to make it better, or to make it feel better—to be more in alignment or to resonate more within.
As I said in the Introduction, I have not ordered these chapters by priority of learning, effectiveness, or when they came into my life, but If I were to put them in order of importance to improving my life, learning to be a grateful person, an appreciative person, and sharing that appreciation with others would be at the top of the list. In fact, I would have to say that learning to appreciate, to be grateful, didn’t just change my life for the better, it TRANSFORMED it. If I were giving advice on how to live a full and valuable life, one with more joy, I would advise that beginning to appreciate things and people, and then practicing it daily, that this one thing would be enough. If you only read this far, and took this chapter to heart and put it into practice in your life, it would be impossible for you to not have a joyful life. Yes, it is that powerful and life-giving.
As part of this, here’s an important point to add. Finding things and people to appreciate is key, but it might not occur to you to also find things and attributes within yourself that you can appreciate and then practice appreciating yourself along with the outer world around you. To appreciate others and things outside of us and to miss including ourselves is to put others on a pedestal and put ourselves in a pit. This is what most mean in the word worship—to see the other as superior in one or more ways. It is discounting ourselves, and it is not healthy.
To appreciate is to appreciate the differences. We are all different. We all have unique talents. One is not more or better than another’s, though many things try to indicate that via games, magazines, television, and more. To really appreciate is to appreciate them as we revel in ourselves. To really appreciate is to see all of us as children of God, or as connected souls in the Universe. It is to appreciate that without ourselves, while not discounting ourselves in the process.
They say that you cannot love another until you love yourself, but that is not true. People love others and not themselves all the time. It is predominant in our lives. What is true is that this love we think we are giving others is an ego-driven act that makes that thing that we think of as love to be something else entirely. Love and appreciation are a vibrational match. They are harmonious. When we can appreciate and love ourselves and at the same time love, appreciate, and respect others for their uniqueness, we are both complete. We cannot make others a plus while we view ourselves as a minus and call it appreciation.