COMMENTARY: Appreciating Appreciation

There’s a song called “Thank God for Dirty Dishes” that makes the point that if you’re lucky to have enough food to make dirty dishes, you should be grateful.

So instead of grousing about your property taxes, be thankful you own property. When you have to wait in line at the bank or are stuck in traffic, just be grateful you have money in the bank and a car to drive.

It makes sense, but that doesn’t make it easy.

I have to admit that appreciation has not been a natural attribute for me. In my more ambitious days when I believed that excess was not enough, gratitude seemed like a form of surrender and a very poor life strategy. After all, if you’re satisfied with the way things are, you’ll never make them better.

What a pity I had to reach my 50s before I began to appreciate appreciation. I finally began to see that it was irresponsible and irreverent not to realize how many things I should feel grateful for. I also came to realize how good it feels to acknowledge how good I have it.

Real gratitude is much more than politeness, like saying thank you when someone passes the salt or conveys good wishes; it’s a deeper psychological state of genuine thankfulness.

Whether we believe whatever good fortune we have is the product of our own labor and talents, random luck, or a gift from God, the fact remains that each of us could spend a full day identifying all the things that merit gratitude.

According to an old proverb, “If you never learn the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.”

I’m still a beginner, but it’s true; the more I appreciate, the happier I am. That’s a lesson I want my children to learn.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 11

  1. I really appreciate you in discussing this article .
    With due respect allow to share my small inputs in this matter.
    I also learned from my spiritual mentors in Focolare movement that ” gratitude is the hearts memory ”
    Appreciating what you have and giving thanks of what you recieved and likewise overcoming or reorientation of values .
    I admire your profound openess in this regard, what you conveying to us is “their is always a time to change”
    Values reorientation is an essential tool to achieve happiness.

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  2. There is a contemporary song titled “Let her go” with the following lyrics:

    Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
    Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
    Only know you love her when you let her go
    Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
    Only hate the road when you’re missing home
    Only know you love her when you let her go
    And you let her go

    Isn’t it true that we go through life complaining about our lot in life or our daily struggles and we easily forget that the struggles that we have are a blessing because it means that we have something to begin with. Living in Northeast Ohio coming out of this [terrible] winter, how much more will we appreciate the warmth and sun this Spring and Summer. Let’s hope that we don’t wait until November to appreciate the Spring and Summer for the beauty each day brings.

    Thank you Michael for reminding us daily of truly matters.

  3. Just read this now after it was written last April 2014.

    I would like to make a comment if it is not too late.

    I know a lot of people who are really grateful for what they receive but the trouble with them is that they do not show it. No thanks, no gestures, no leaving a message that they like it et. What good is that?

    Here are some quotations on gratitude:

    Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
    It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.—-Melody Beattie

    Gratitude weighs heavy on us only when we no longer feel it.–Comtesse Diane

    Appreciation is yeast, lighting ordinary to extraordinary. —Mary Anne Petro

    One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay “in kind” somewhere else in life. —-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    and lastly Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.—-Gladys Browyn Krutch

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  4. Right on! Having a mind of appreciation and gratitude will certainly lead to a happier state of mind, but it is actually expressing appreciation and gratitude that leads to the joy.

  5. Really nice thought to begin the day. The purpose of education is to learn to appreciate rather than criticize. Its difficult to find words to appreciate. Thanks for the interesting article.

  6. This is so truth, we as people must learn to be grateful for every thing that we have in life. this morning we woke up healthy and others are mourning for the loss of the loved ones, some people are at home unemployed and us employed complaining about the salaries that we earn. Please people let us be realistic we must be grateful always

  7. Thank you Michael,

    My wife and I have a large glass jar and some business sized cards on which we write what are grateful for in a given day and drop into the jar.

    At the end of the year we will take them out and remember all those things once more.

    A colleagu keeps a gratitude journal in a similar manner so she can reflect on the positives in her life.

    We both work on showing our gratitude to those around us who contribute through their actions to our gratefulness.

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