Saturday, August 28, 2021

Appreciation: The Aim of Life

G.K. Chesterton said, “The aim of life is appreciation.”

It has been shown that the deeper your ability to appreciate, the more access you have to your intuition and inspiration. HeartMath research has shown that a practice of appreciation is an “effective way to improve mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

Appreciation is related to gratitude. One definition of appreciation that stands out to me is “the act of recognizing or understanding that something is valuable - To perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems” (Cooperrider and Whitney, p. 231).

Appreciation (and other related emotions) boost the immune system, while frustration and its ilk can suppress the immune system for up to 6 hours. Positive emotions have been demonstrated to improve health, increase longevity, increase cognitive flexibility, facilitate “broad-minded coping” and innovative problem solving, and promote helpfulness, generosity, and effective cooperation.

With a sincere practice of appreciation, a person can make significant changes toward living a more enjoyable and less stressful life. At the physiologic level, appreciation shows increased synchronization between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system, and entrainment between the heart rhythm pattern, respiration, and blood pressure rhythms.

While cognitively induced breathing patterns can generate similar coherent patterns for brief periods, it is difficult to sustain these breathing patterns. However, appreciation can cause the coherent patterns to emerge naturally and can be sustained for longer periods. Once a pattern is established, the brain strives to maintain and match the pattern.

Studies show that after a practice of short periods of appreciation several times a day over a few days or weeks, people report a reduction of mental dialogue along with increased peace and sense of well-being.

In a HeartMath paper called, “The Appreciative Heart, The Psychophysiology of Positive Emotions and Optimal Functioning" Rollin McCraty, Ph.D. concluded that positive emotions, based on appreciation are easy to learn and have value cross cultures, age groups, and spiritual backgrounds. Most people may understand this concept, but don’t have these skills because their emotional life is based more on reaction to outer circumstance than conscious choice. However, learning to replace maladaptive (negative or inconsistent emotional) patterns with appreciation related emotions require conscious choice, commitment and a regular practice.

A regular practice of the Art of Ascension includes Praise, Gratitude, Love and Compassion.

(Note: All research is from

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