Fall in Love with Yourself: Embrace Gratitude and Appreciation

by Matsya Siosal, Contributing Writer

You know that giddy, spectacular high of falling in love? What about the excitement of meeting a new friend, a real kindred spirit? Or the incredibly deep, cellular-level sense of unconditional love felt for a baby we’ve just welcomed into the world?

Hold that feeling for a moment, then see how that compares to how you feel about your self.

We’re all familiar with the concept of “gratitude” as the quality or feeling of being thankful for something, someone, a particular circumstance, etc. The quality of “appreciation” takes the concept of thankfulness further and is broader yet also more specific. The word carries multiple connotations, from being a synonym for gratitude, to referring to a clear perception or recognition of the meaning and importance of something. Within this definition of appreciation are two essential concepts: clear perception, and meaning and importance.

Sometimes we don’t fully understand the meaning and importance of challenging situations, yet we can still appreciate that we are being given an opportunity to grow, that each situation opens new potentialities. As we more deeply appreciate our lives and all of the circumstances that conspire to make our world, we begin to find value in these challenges/opportunities more and more. We begin to feel a sense of unconditional love for ourselves and this precious life we’ve been given, no matter how difficult it may currently be.


Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, more satisfied with their lives and have a greater ability to cope when disaster strikes. In fact, grateful people may not jump to the conclusion of “disaster” but rather the gentler estimation of a challenge or bump in the road.

The Buddha said “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” This powerful insight into the nature of reality guides us toward working first with our perceptions of the situations that arise in our lives. If we tell ourselves things like “this is terrible; it’s the worst thing that could happen to me; my life is ruined etc.” we are establishing those feelings as our reality.

From there we can consciously cultivate a mindset of appreciation toward ourselves and the world as a whole. The internal dialogue might then sound something like “I accept the reality of my situation; I am very sad or afraid of what is happening but I trust that there is something I can learn here that will be of benefit to myself or others.”

When we live in a state of appreciation and love, our bodies naturally relax, stress dissipates and we can experience more energy, more vitality and greater health – especially in the midst of stressful or overwhelming situations.

It takes time to address our troubles holistically, and unlike symptom-masking and suppressing pharmaceuticals or other commonplace allopathic treatments that fall short of true healing, a holistic approach gets at the root causes of the issue. Whether you are suffering from low self-esteem, struggling with the transition into menopause, or treating a serious illness, wherever you can apply an attitude of appreciation, or even just allow yourself to know that opportunity exists, you are on the path to wholeness.

We must give ourselves permission to “start where we are” and use our healing as an opportunity to reawaken what has been lost, damaged or wounded, to (re)establish an unconditionally loving relationship with ourselves. Appreciation and self-acceptance are closely related and if we truly accept ourselves, our sense of suffering and struggle diminish considerably.


Just like with a new lover or any type of intimate relationship, we must come to know who and how we are, just as we are at this point, in order to move toward health, vitality, and happiness. First, give yourself both time and space (physically and/or mentally) to get to know yourself. This means making YOU and your relationship with yourself a priority. Some getting-to-know-me activities include:

  • Start journaling. Read through previous entries to get a sense of the ever-changing nature of who and how you are.
  • Find a favorite mind-body practice like yoga or qi gong. These practices are all about creating unity and balance within your being and with consistent practice you will see how incremental change adds up to monumental transformation.
  • Last month’s article, Treat Yourself with Loving Appreciation, provides several suggestions including a ritual bath and spending time in nature.

There are many wonderful teachings on appreciation, from the ancient yet timely wisdom of the Buddha to the insights and revelations of contemporary teacher Abraham-Hicks.

In Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes:

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile, this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along.”

In this video Abraham-Hicks discusses the differences between gratitude and appreciation, and how love and appreciation are the same vibration. That living in a state of appreciation is being in alignment with who you really are; it is the absence of doubt, fear, resistance, and self-denial.

The takeaway from this teaching is to “Look for what is good, what makes you feel good. Look for things to love and appreciate and you will find alignment with who you truly are – who you have been from the moment you were born and who you will be the moment you die.”

Treat Yourself with Loving Appreciation

We are given one body to carry us from birth to death during our lifetime and it is up to us to determine how we will care for that one precious vessel. With the demands of work, raising children, family life, and a whole host of other commitments, it is so easy to lose sight of the importance of taking care of our bodies and ourselves.

There was a period of time in my life when I didn’t pay any attention to my body at all. In fact, I was unsuspectingly abusing it. I worked long hours, exercised vigorously (thinking that I was actually taking care of myself), and I ate what seemed like a healthy diet. But I really wasn’t listening to my body nor was taking time to appreciate it.  And when it started to complain loudly to me, I responded with irritation or anger: “why are you (my body) causing me pain”, or “why are you putting on weight”, or “why aren’t you strong and sexy anymore”? I felt that my body was betraying me. After all, I thought I was doing all the right things to care for it.It took me a number of years to turn that belief around and it’s still an on-going learning process. I realize now that our bodies are sacred beautiful vehicles and homes to our souls. It is because we have a body, that we are able to experience pleasure and pain, to see, hear, smell, touch, feel and sense or intuit our internal and external worlds. It is because we have a body that we can make love, laugh, cry, sing and speak. But do we really appreciate our bodies?  Do we ignore our body’s wisdom when it says it is time to eat, time for sleep, time to slow down, time to move?  So often, our mind overrides our body’s messages and denies the needs that it is trying to communicate.

Some people are challenged with serious physical or emotional/mental conditions that can make it even more difficult to love and appreciate their bodies. I’m sure you have noticed how some individuals accept their challenges, and even consistently feel gratitude, while others find themselves feeling frustrated and victimized by the circumstances in their lives. There comes a point where we must choose how we are going to respond to the challenges this life presents.

Having worked through major challenges around loving and accepting my body as well as other conditions, I understand that rising to meet the obstacles in life with love and appreciation is not an easy road to take. What I learned for myself is that the journey of coming to terms with my body and all the stories I had going about it is the real gift. Once I really got that, I developed appreciation for and a loving relationship with my body that I didn’t know was possible.
Now I see my body as a gift and that it is an honor and a privilege to care for it as exquisitely and attentively as possible. Am I perfect?  Of course not! And when I don’t get the rest I need, or enough exercise or the right kind of nutrition my body lets me know. Sometimes it complains loudly, sometimes it gives me a gentle nudge.
And you know what is beautiful?  When I bring things back into balance and care for my body the way it deserves to be cared for, it responds accordingly. You see the body is always paying attention to what we say and think and do. The body is a living, breathing creation that never lies. I may not always know why I am not always feeling on top of my game but those are moments when I need to stop and listen closely or seek out professional help if I can’t figure it out myself.
Following are a number of suggestions that you can do to practice loving-kindness and develop a deep appreciation for your body. Start with one or two that speak to you and gradually integrate more into your practice. You might even come up with some of your own that work better for you. I’d love to hear from you and find out what worked for you and what sort of results you had.
1) Be nurtured by nature. 
Time spent in nature can be profoundly healing and revitalizing. Actually placing your bare feet on the earth for 15 minutes everyday can balance emotional and spiritual energies and increase a sense of connection to the web of life.
Try taking a break outside everyday, no matter the weather. Observe the ebb and flow of the seasons and remind yourself that just as you are, you are a perfect manifestation of mother nature.
2) Greet the day with intention.
Each morning take a moment to say something nice to and about your body. If you notice that your first thoughts upon waking tend toward the negative, you might try doing this as soon as you wake up, before you even open your eyes or get out of bed.
3) Bathe yourself with loving-kindness.
Once a week – or whenever you feel the need – take a ritual bath. Fill the tub and consider adding rose oil, which is associated with balancing the heart and often used to soothe anxiety and depression. Light candles and play soft music if you desire.
As you bathe each part of your body, reflect on how strong and wondrous it is. If it is injured or damaged send love to it. Think of everything each part of your body does to keep you alive, to give birth, to carry you from place to place. Honor your body as a divine vessel and appreciate all that it is capable of.