Appreciating Life: Turning up the Light
What we appreciate says much about who we are, what we value, how much we care and our degree of awareness. Acknowledging and appreciating are indicators of what specifically you value in beauty, skill, excellence, valor, courage and many other virtues and qualities demonstrated by others.
The act of appreciating is a form of gratitude, one of the great elixirs of living.
The limiters of appreciating anything revolve around the degrees to which we have developed our ability to attend to what attracts us. Have you noticed that there seems to be a significantly different outcome when one has focused attention rather than the rambling of the mind? And you may also have noticed that the act of “thinking” via the mind, for most people, is a random affair where a firehose of noise and images, most of which have no bearing on the current intended thought, shoots by uninvited to distract and confuse the moment. I use the term “attending” rather than “thinking” simply because it includes more focus and intention, When you attend, you are “turning up the light.”
Another important aspect of any focused attention is the level of awareness and the degree to which one is either conscious or unconscious. Using an Iceberg as a metaphor, consciousness is the part we see above the waterline, all ten percent. Our unconsciousness is under the water line. Much more is going on in our brains unconsiously than we are aware of.
And, until recently, many neuroscientists thought that the brain was “fixed” at birth and that it was not possible to increase IQ or regenerate any neural pathways. Thank goodness our knowledge evolved. With this new understanding of neural growth we now recognize that the line that distinguishes the unconscious from the conscious mind can be as variable as the individual desires. The more we turn up the light of awareness, the more consciously aware we become of what is happening in our world.
This new outlook on brain development basically gives us permission, if we desire, to increase our sensory awareness and our conscious awareness as well as our appreciation. For instance, most people are aware of their five physical senses and use them in a very basic way, for survival. However, if you were to lose the use of your eyes, you would probably go through a grieving period, but after this passed you might begin to ramp up your senses of hearing and smell, becoming more conscious of counting paces, background noises and voice intonations. I will never forget the scene in the movie “Scent of a Woman” when the blind Colonel described to the young woman the specific name of bath soap and aromatic essence she was wearing so subtly. His sense of smell was ramped up, as was his appreciation for specific aromas. Something else seemed ramped up as well.
Appreciating sensory experience: the background
It is not necessary to grieve the loss of a sensory capacity to expand one or two, if you desire. All it takes is one decision plus intention, desire and increasing focus on those things you value. For example, If you love camping or just being outdoors, recall those sensory things you value the most, that you would love to have year round if it were not for the changing of the seasons. List them by season and then close your eyes and remember all the details that make what you value, possible as the background. Now focus on your favorite season and write down all the details of the background that you value. The native sounds or amazing quiet, unique and pleasant smells, vista views and sights, the peace of being by yourself or joy of camaraderie. Your recall of the most appetizing aspects of the backgrounds adds value to your enjoyment and the Experience and life.
The background is very important in that your most valued place, event, or season would not POP into memory without it. The same is true of every thing you value. The background is similar to the frame of a picture or watching a move on a big screen. Can you imagine just for a moment how silly a movie would be without the background? I just saw the recent James Bond movie “Skyfall”. The visual effects were amazing, but the action scenes would have been silly without the background, very silly.
And just like in the movie, “Scent of a Woman”, the young woman was physically attractive, but she really appreciated that the blind Colonel noticed her scented background, so intimately. Everything has a background that makes it unique and memorable to someone.
Turn up the Light
Now, just for fun, begin a new adventure. Start small, and slowly begin to turn up your light on just one part of your life . Expand your awareness of something you value, maybe a passion suppressed for other priorities, or an underdeveloped hobby. Along the way, check out the backgrounds. There is much to appreciate. Ask close friends, whom you trust, to talk it through with you. Who knows, they may be interested in acquiring the same skills or just turn up their light. Use the Internet. Be careful though because there are some sites that are very addictive, (i.e. Pinterest). You can, if you chose, expand any and all of your sensory awareness and capabilities. To do so is to recognize that you are capable of growing, having fun and appreciating the background of life in the process.
Just Turn up the light, and you will see and appreciate more.