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The Importance of Appreciation

Growing up, the words that meant the most to my parents coming from me were not “I love you”, as is probably more commonly used to show how much a person means to you. The three magic words in our case were in fact, “I appreciate you”, and so this is why I have grown up feeling strongly that to appreciate someone or something is far more important than people realise. To show someone sincere appreciation is to value someone, and to let someone know that you appreciate them is to truly recognise the good qualities in that person, and to encourage these good qualities to be shown time and time again.

Love is an important emotion, it is one that is intense, one that is all consuming and one that does in some cases comes naturally, whether it is the love between a family or the love of a friend or a partner. But love is a feeling that we cannot necessarily have for everyone, no matter how hard we try, unlike appreciation, which we can have for everyone. We can appreciate everyone as a human being and we can treasure and value them as an individual. We can appreciate that we are in good health, we can appreciate teachers for motivating us, we can appreciate literature because it gives us the ability to learn and to imagine, we can appreciate art, we can appreciate doctors for saving the lives of our friends and family, we can appreciate our senses, our legs for allowing us to walk, we can appreciate the beauty of a rainbow, we can appreciate the kindness of strangers, we can appreciate that we have a home to go back to at the end of each day, we can appreciate that we have easy access to food and water, we can appreciate that we have a bed to sleep in every night, we can appreciate that going through tough times can make us stronger. My point being that these are not things that we can necessarily “love”. They are things that we possibly take for granted and things that we should recognise more for their purpose and their worth. This is why I believe that appreciation gives us a different, more simple and meaningful perspective on life, love can cause pain, love can cause wars but appreciation is simple, it is something that we rarely give the importance or acknowledgement it deserves. Ironic isn’t it? That we don’t even appreciate appreciation.

Appreciation inspires respect, it inspires gratitude and it makes us realise that there are good things in life. Appreciation allows us to understand what life is like for others, an appreciation for the hardship that other people go through, it unites us and makes us people who are more capable of kindness because it allows us to understand worth, to have empathy. Appreciation encourages us to open our eyes to the world and I can honestly say that it makes life so much more worth living, from appreciation we obtain joy and happiness, because we let go of expectation and we are thankful for our own life, however it may differ to what we would expect our lives to be like. When you can appreciate and value what people have to say, when you can appreciate the natural wonders of nature, cascading waterfalls and serene lakes, the wonderful and at times weird nature of the animal kingdom, the picture of the weasel riding on the woodpecker’s back for example, the wonder of different species of animals banding together to look out for or benefit from one another in a symbiotic relationship, even dogs and humans are an example of mutualistic symbiosis, the wonder of bee hives and ant colonies, working in harmony towards their specific purpose. The wonder of life in general.

Humans are complex and so are emotions, but appreciation is not complex, it just takes a moment to stand back in such a hectic world and appreciate the good things, in a way “count your blessings”,  because there is always something worth appreciating. This is why it is so important to tell people that you appreciate them, this is why for my parents, “I appreciate you” was the most heartwarming thing I could say to them, because the word “appreciate” shows someone that you value them, that they matter, it gives them meaning, shows your thankfulness that they have helped you in some way or that they have been there for you, that they have made your life better somehow, that you don’t just “love” them, because they’re your parents or your family or your best friend so the natural assumption according to society is that you should “love” them, but instead you appreciate them. When someone feels appreciated their kindness or trust or selflessness has been consolidated, given purpose and so it will continue. Showing someone that they are appreciated can make their day, it can make their year, it can change the way they view themselves, it can change their life. So, you have the power to change someone’s life, to empower someone, with just three meaningful words, it doesn’t cause you any harm or even take up more than 10 seconds of your time.

Equally as important however, is to remember that there are people in this world who will not show you appreciation, who will not give you the recognition you deserve, but acts of beauty or effort that go unnoticed are not for nothing, we should live without expectation and only appreciation, we should not expect rewards for kindness but instead simply carry out acts that are kind without thought of our own personal gain, and when we stop expecting is when people start appreciating us for our truthful and honest actions. If the people who do not show you appreciation are people who you do not need to keep around you, then do not waste your time and energy on somebody who only serves to drain you, physically or emotionally, and definitely do not start seeing yourself through their eyes because their lack of appreciation does not make you of any less value. Appreciate everything and the acts you do for others will not require any acknowledgement because you will feel content enough within yourself, confident that your actions are in fact helping others and not needing reassurance of it. This is where your own feelings of self-worth come into it, you need to know that you are important. That being said, it is my personal belief that we should be living in a world where people should be telling each other that they are appreciated, that they are important.

Teaching what love is to a 5 year old can prove to be slightly difficult, the overwhelming enormity and meaning of the intense and deep emotion can be too much for a young child to grasp, just as it can for a teenager or adult. Teaching a 5 year old what appreciation is however, is much easier, to teach them that when they are grateful or thankful for something, that when someone has gone out of there way to do something for them, when someone has made life better for them, there are ways of showing appreciation,  in my opinion, this a much more simple concept that is much easier to apply to humanity than love.

My parents definitely do deserve the many “I appreciate you” comments made by me over years, even if some of them may have not been genuine and were instead me trying to get out of sitting on the naughty step…I can tell you now though, that I do appreciate you for doing nothing less than your best for me, for your selflessness and guidance, your patience, and for always being there for me, for your unconditional love and support and for always making me laugh or giving me a shoulder to cry on and of course I appreciate you for teaching me the importance of appreciation. As it is my dad’s birthday today, I would like to share this poem with you in order to express my appreciation for how he has inspired me and shaped me as a person- I also appreciate him being my own personal taxi driver and I also appreciate my occasional loans taken out from the Bank of Dad.

He taught me to respect
to learn how to protect
myself, defend myself,
he taught me to fight,
to not remain silent and sit tight,
to be a shepherd not a sheep,
to make people listen to me speak,
because my opinions are important,
because my views are of value,
he showed me I have a voice,
made me realise how lucky I am to have a choice,
and showed me that for recognition
you need to work, work hard
but dream big, aim for the stars,
to not let life pass me by like
zooming motorway cars,
that anything can be achieved through sheer determination,
confident speech, setting goals and clear vocation,
sometimes we have to agree to disagree,
but strong opinions, strong people,
won’t ever break our family,
because nobody else could deal with our loud nature,
our frustrating inability to sit idly by,
trust me, you should see us try,
so I guess we’re just stuck together,
but with him I wouldn’t mind spending forever,
because my dad taught me what it is to make someone proud,
that hard work and sense of purpose cannot be dulled by a storm cloud,
he taught me not to ever settle,
maybe his temper can boil over like a brewing kettle,
but that’s because he’s so passionate,
a natural born leader,
a self assured preacher,
who would fight for the ones he loves the most,
even when I set off the fire alarms and burn the toast,
I know he still loves me,
and wouldn’t ever put anyone above his family.
As you will be told by me, James and Natalie,
he pushes you to do your best,
teaches you how to protest,
tells you not to take money for granted,
he taught me Blade Runner is enchanted,
that you can change the world single-handed,
an appreciation for works of art,
and that the Killers should always be top of the charts,
so thank you dad,
for sharing your heart,
and for inspiring me,
encouraging me,
to become the independent young lady
that I want to be

All photos containing quotes on this blog were taken from Pinterest and are not my photos.

Differing Ideals

So here is a poem I wrote, it is one that highlights some of the key issues within our society on accepting other people’s different beliefs and ideologies as well as the darker side of human nature in terms of power and control. The feature picture is a cultural artist picture I took in China Town in San Francisco, this is to remind people of the beauty of separate cultures as opposed to only looking on the more negative extremist side. This is written from my point of view and the feelings of frustration at the continuous media attention on only distressing and hateful events that inspire fear as well as my exasperation at some people’s inability to understand that different people share in different visions and different beliefs and different people have different values and different ways of life and that there is nothing wrong with that unless this way of life is advocating hate towards a differing way of life- confusing, I know!

It’s hard to have faith

when the entire human race

seems to be up to their waists

in animosity and hate

maybe I’ll go to space

anywhere but here,

just another place,

because some people here forget

the importance of respect

the importance of acceptance

and the emptiness of resentment

hate crimes against humanity

are hate crimes against yourself

why can’t you see that beneath our unique

individuality, we are all from the same shelf

no god, no background, no colour, no love

should divide us, yet we judge each other

based on a bible, a book, a scripture

a man made construct, just like a bridge

something that can unite us or crumble and ignite

intolerance and judgement,

a belief that you are superior

because of your ideals, an inability

to listen, to hear the voices of others,

to embrace those who are different,

but instead you silence their voices,

you steal their human rights,

rights to be who they want to be,

a freedom of choice which they don’t have

because you don’t like what you see

because it goes against your ideals,

but why do you care?

making someone feel small

just isn’t fair,

I could judge you, for being so ignorant

for failing to to understand,

for being so indifferent

certain that your vision is real,

that your vision is right

that you are the puppet master

pulling the strings of man so tight,

deciding to fight

in the name of a religion

created by man,

to murder and to devastate,

an entire race, to attack a culture

to create chaos and incite fear,

no religion was born out of hate,

a pact of guidance between a person and their god

there is no harm in believing

there is no harm in seeking a greater meaning,

but there is harm in genocide, in discrimination,

in encouraging violence and breeding hate,

in playing god yourself,

and amongst all the delirium,

it can be easy to forget,

there are so many other problems,

but we can’t combat them yet

until we stand as one force,

an idealistic thought,

not government taught,

corrupt politicians with narrow minds,

empty promises lacking in empathy,

masked extremist opinions with no humanity,

it’s no wonder I’m losing my sanity,

so maybe I will go to space,

to see if there is another race

where misogyny is an unknown concept,

where they look racism straight in the eye,

where people don’t march for the sake of a change

they don’t understand

but for the good of mankind,

where people feel content,

loving someone of the same sex,

not a life where people are all equal

because that can only lead to the

selfish tendencies of human nature,

but a life where people are understanding,

a life where people wouldn’t rather die

than be themselves,

a life where girls feel comfortable

walking alone at night,

a life where boys are allowed to cry

rather than fight and not show fright,

a life where there are no negative

social constructs,

masculinity, virginity, sexual orientation

the house you were born in,

“the complexion of your pigment”

no unrealistic beauty standards

like the size of your waist,

the size of your nose,

when you look down on your stomach,

if you can see your toes

none of these should matter

hurtful, irrelevant schoolgirl chatter,

a life with only one goal

in sight,

to be kind but also to be honest,

to be opinionated but to be more than tolerant,

to be accepting of others, to realise

what another person does, doesn’t affect you,

because although it may trouble you,

life’s too short, to spend it

stopping someone with the same

biology as yourself, from living their life

just because they challenge false ideals

instilled in you from an early age,

so why don’t you break out of your cage,

and live your own life and instead

be an actor on your own bloody stage