December 2007

Happy Winter

In Minnesota, it's snowing. In Texas, it's 72 and sunny. I'm in Texas, remembering the thrill of walking in my neighborhood park after a 6-inch snowfall. Ah, winter wonderland — there's nothing like it. But for this Minnesotan, 72 and sunny in December is a wonderland all its own.


Have you been practicing gratitude with your breathing? Good. Now try this — appreciation. Do it now. Look around you and appreciate everything you can. Is it snowing? Is it sunny? Appreciate it!

Are you at work? Can you appreciate your job? Your workplace? Your coworkers? Your abilities? Your computer? Your paycheck? The pen you're writing with? The picture on your calendar?

Are you at home? What in your immediate environment do you appreciate? Let yourself feel it.

Appreciate yourself!

Just Dig It!

I've been noticing the difference between gratitude and appreciation. It may be subtle, it may even be semantic, but somehow the difference feels significant to me. Gratitude implies a "thank you." Who, I wonder, is the "you" to be thanked?

Appreciation, on the other hand, is just me and whatever it is I'm appreciating. Appreciation feels immediate, more direct, more intimate. It's just me, digging it.


Practice appreciation today, and see if you feel a difference between it and gratitude. What is the difference? Please let me know what you find.

I'm curious, I'm asking a question, and I'm certainly not knocking gratitude. I heard a report that says people who spend some time each day feeling grateful are happier, healthier, more satisfied with life. Appreciation and gratitude are something like twins, very alike but with some subtle differences. Both are necessary for a good life.

Try It With Someone

This all started when I noticed myself spending some time, a minute or so, appreciating my partner, Deb. I wasn't feeling grateful for her in my life (although I am), I was simply appreciating her, who she is. Now I do it on purpose — once a day I pause, for about as long as a breath, and I deliberately and consciously appreciate Deb.

Try it with someone in your life. Tell me about your experience.

Imbibe Appreciation

Are you drinking water? Before you take a drink, take a second to appreciate the look of the water. Then while you're drinking it, appreciate the taste, appreciate the feeling of it in your mouth, in your throat. Savor it. Enjoy it.

Over the holidays, don't forget your daily practice. It'll keep you sane, keep you grounded, keep your heart open. Here's the practices, with the issue numbers where you can find each.

The Basic Practice

BREATHE #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6
15 minutes of intentional breathing twice a day. Intentional breathing means breathe with awareness – no effort, no rules, no shoulds. Just enjoy your breath.

DRINK #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
8 glasses of water a day.

Get a good night's sleep every night until the next newsletter.

EAT #27 #28
Practice intentional eating for one meal a day.

MOVE #35
Like the billboards say, groove your body every day.

Then there’s:

GRATITUDE #11 #12 #13
During your breathing time and during your day, practice filling yourself with the energy of gratitude.

Just breathe. No effort.


Practice generosity of body, mind, and spirit.

I WILL DIE #21 #22 #24
Know, as completely as you can, that your death is the one knowable truth. Know you will die, know that now you live. Understand that all else is mystery.

I DON'T KNOW #23 #24 #25 #34
Recognize what you think you know so that you can stay with the truth of what you do know.

Open up to your birthright.

Breathe for 30 minutes, focusing on the air in your nostrils.

The List of options:

Switch It #8 #8 continued

Reverse It #7

5, 5, 5 – #12
During your 15 minutes of intentional breathing, practice 5 minutes of gratitude, 5 minutes of breathing, 5 minutes of some other quality you want in your day.

Smile #9

Let It Be #6

Imbue and imbibe #16

Hug your heart breath #4

Open your chest #18

Balance #20

Move from your center #29 #30 #31

Tithing #19

Become a Master of Perspective #30 #31