Did you know that only 10% of our mind functions consciously on a daily basis?
That leaves the other 90% functioning on an unconscious auto-pilot mode. In essence, all the stimulation of our daily lives is filtered out and sifted for what is the most immediately relevant to us. So what’s the big deal you ask? The big deal is the little things we miss on the way. We miss the opportunities for admiration, the doorways to experiencing gratitude, and the chances to appreciate life as a whole. We miss the feelings of happiness, the childlike sensations of awe, and the innocent curiosity of wonder. All these marvelous things we miss out on in this modern age of noisy capital and labor … sometimes without even realizing it.
If you look around, it’s easy to see that the need for personal Solitude is great in this world. Not only does Solitude help us develop inner peace, acceptance and understanding, but also outer insight, awareness and most essentially, appreciation. After all, how are we supposed to enjoy the journey rather than the destination without appreciating what we see on the way?
Gratitude and Appreciation
If you want to find happiness, find gratitude. ~ S. Maraboli
Gratitude stems from appreciation and is essentially an attitude of thankfulness towards the big and little things of life. When was the last time you sat down and thought about all the things you’re thankful for? Or stopped at the traffic lights and felt gratitude for your ability to work for money, drive, gather food, function normally …
Experiencing gratitude can increase your happiness levels by 25% according to an experiment conducted by two psychologists Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons. According to the study, not only can gratitude increase levels of optimism but also boost alertness, energy and determination, substantially reducing depression and stress.
So why do we complain more than feel appreciation in our lives? The answer is an easy one: lack of awareness, and lack of alone time and personal Solitude. As I mentioned earlier, we live most of our days in an automatic and unconscious state. This is largely due to the fact that we constantly live in the past or off in the future, forgetting about this present moment now. To experience gratitude is to experience an appreciation of the present moment, of what we possess right now.
Experiencing gratitude also requires a certain level of introspective alone time, you could even say that gratitude is a natural byproduct of Solitude. Without Solitude, it’s extremely difficult to develop appreciation when we’re engulfed in tides of people, noise and drama.
Admiration and Appreciation
When the suicide arrived at the sky, the people asked: “Why?” He replied: “Because no one admired me.” ~ Stephen crane, Poet.
Admiration is the second element of appreciation and is basically a feeling of wonder and pleasure towards something highly esteemed. We hear of poets admiring their beloveds, admiring their mothers, admiring the skies and seas and mountains. Sounds a bit soppy and overly sentimental, doesn’t it? Not really.
Admiration is essential to our lives because it instills in us a sense of love, respect and awe for what we see. When you pass a mountain in your car, do you feel a sense of awe and wonder? When you see a mother nursing her young in the streets, do you feel a sense of love and respect?
Too often we take the things we see for granted, missing out on their hidden opportunities to experience admiration and appreciation, the very things that help us enjoy life. This is due to the fact that we don’t make time and space for ourselves to absorb the world around us. Once again, experiencing admiration in its purest form is closely linked to the need to establish personal Solitude. How can we live life fully without first admiring, appreciating and enjoying it first?
Appreciation, the fifth virtue of Solitude, is split up into the two elements of gratitude and admiration. These allow us to see each moment as a beautiful gift, with eyes of wonder and respect.
If you liked reading this article, you may also like …
Walden ~ by Henry David Thoreau
A classic from the father of Solitude, who detailed his solitary retreat to Walden Pond in a journal for two years. Profound insights, reflections and admiration for nature are the key charms of this book that all tell of the delights of self-imposed Solitude. Read more about this book here.
This article is part of The Virtues of Solitude series.
You can read the previous article on Introspection.
Look out for the 6th article on the virtue of Courage.