BASIC NEEDS series / Gratitude / Nature & Hiking / Relationships / We Are Connected

BASIC NEEDS: Appreciation (Use It or Lose It)


This is the 2nd in a series of postings sharing my thoughts and experiences on the topic of basic needs of humans and the feelings we have when those needs are and are not being met. The opening post in the series is “BASIC NEEDS Being Met? Feelings are the Signal”  You may want to give it a read before proceeding. Think of it like a brochure for the journey you’re about to embark on! And thanks for joining me… I always appreciate and enjoy traveling with friends.


appreciation perspective santa monica mountains

Gain a new perspective and cultivate some appreciation!

One of the most essential of basic human needs is APPRECIATION. I say this because it tends to be a cornerstone to other important needs in ourselves and in others or at least has the ability to cultivate them; human needs like: Respect, Consideration, Beauty, Harmony, Understanding, Inspiration, and Peace. When someone appreciates us, we feel respected, understood, and at peace. When we are appreciative of others, we are considerate, respectful, and understanding. Coming or going, appreciation inspires harmony and is a source of inspiration helping us to see the beauty in all people and things, including ourselves.

On the flip side, if appreciation is missing in our lives–either in receiving it or feeling it–it ends up distorting our world dramatically. That’s because there are so many other needs hedged on its presence. If we under-appreciate those around us, we can become selfish or self-absorbed, callous, detached, insensitive. One who is unable to appreciate is destined to be lonely, for lack of feeling connected or being connected with others. These people can become dangerous to society or to themselves. If someone under-appreciates us, we may feel profound sadness, dismay. We may even react in a spiteful way and set out to under-appreciate them, to show them what it feels like until it alters our behavior and becomes second nature for us.

When I was married, my husband and I had gone through a dramatic set of experiences lasting several years that had truly tested us individually and as a couple. For a long time we dealt with the trials and tribulations as a team. I felt immensely appreciated by him for standing by his side through trying times. I was praised by him in front of his friends and was routinely commended by them for being such a good woman. That appreciation fed my respect and empathy for him, and motivated me to remain supportive. When others might have thrown in the towel, I stayed. But the day came where the winds changed and the good woman was soon regarded as the nag. Nothing had really changed, however, except his perception during another set of challenges. Before the change there was true beauty, respect, and harmony in our relationship; we were amazed we’d weathered life’s storms and somehow made it through. When we acted as a team, appreciating each other, we were balanced. With the changed perception, appreciation disappeared along with every good thing remotely related to it.

Appreciation needs to be practiced. It has to become part of our reactive thinking and a great way to practice it is by interaction with nature. Appreciation for nature begets appreciation for each other. Nature is the ultimate teacher when it comes to learning lessons in gratitude. It’s so easy to pay attention in nature’s classroom; she has so much to offer. In a techno world of artificial instant gratification, she presents the positive, healthy version. That’s right, if you want instant gratification, all you have to do is ditch the video games–save your money, your eyes, and hours upon hours of wasted time and head for the trail to the beach, the mountaintop, or the meadow.


A few nights ago, I had the divine pleasure of meeting Louie Schwartzberg, the maker of a lovely film about gratitude that captures the positive effects of practicing appreciation. It was at a fundraiser for NatureBridge, a nonprofit I’ve been volunteering with this past half year that gets kids–especially underprivileged, urban kids–into our National Parks to learn science. What they learn, though, is so much more.

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”  –Louis Schwartzberg

What I most noticed in meeting Louie was a beauty reflected in his eyes; he was not just a person but a beautiful soul, and what I saw in his eyes was love and gratitude. Have you ever met people like that? The ones who seem to speak to you soul-to-soul instead of person-to-person, who seem to see right through to the true you? Their eyes seem ageless, timeless, and wise. You can feel their life energy and feel spiritually ‘touched’ by them. By speaking with Louie, I’ve been reminded the value of appreciation and that we all have that life light in us waiting to be cultivated. Please take a moment to see a sample of Louie’s good work and worthy message:

To repeat the closing words in this film clip . . . “I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you. That every one whom you will meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch. Just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.”

I appreciate you, my dear readers. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and may you fully appreciate all that has been given to you if you only open your eyes.

13 thoughts on “BASIC NEEDS: Appreciation (Use It or Lose It)

  1. I can see why you were so taken with Ted. A beautiful video and this post is a wonderful reminder to see, REALLY SEE, the beauty that surrounds us. Every moment, every day. Thank you for sharing. BTW I love that you are working with kids and nature. When I lived in the Bay Area, I used to do farm tours on a working farm down on the peninsula. Now I have my own farm, not doing tours yet, but I expect I’ll have more company soon. 😉

    • Nature does that to me… snapping me out of myself and my worries/concerns and reminds me bigger powers are at work. I love the NatureBridge nonprofit and would have loved to have gotten on board with them as an employee because I believe so much in their effort but alas, nonprofits are tightening their belts just like for-profit companies and it just wasn’t meant to be. I was —-> this close <—- to doing work that really speaks to me. :/ I'll get there somehow, somewhere, someday. 🙂 I just moved into an area where there are horses a plenty and nothing would thrill me more than to experience farm life for a week. I know that's not exactly farming, but it's all of it that just breathes life into me. Getting back to hands-on, feel it, touch it, experience it living . 😉

  2. Sue, I’m late to your wonderful post. I try to make it a point each day to think, really think about the things I’m grateful for and appreciate the gifts I’ve been given. That includes the people I love because you’re so right about if one doesn’t feel appreciated and receive that appreciation, all kinds of misunderstandings can crop up and if you don’t get hold of them, sometimes they suffer beyond repair. I LOVE TED talks when I take the time to watch and listen. I also agree that viewing and listening to all the natural beauty around us is the best teacher of all. But now, with the single-digit temps we’re having, I have to do that in very short bursts or just look out the window!

    • Well, all although having freezing temps for a few nights, it’s been nice enough during the days. 50’s really. And this week, finally, some 60s and 70s! Even with the chill by you, it sure does give you something to appreciate in the Spring!! 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting so fully. You are very supportive of my blog and even sometimes an audience of ONE (well, maybe you and my Mom hold that rare distinction!) and I love you for it!! 🙂

  3. This post resonates with me. I has similar issues with my husband; and I became his carer which initially he appreciated then “Nothing had really changed, however, but his perception during another set of challenges” and I became a ‘nag’.
    I know exactly what you mean.
    In some ways this makes it easier to cope with his leaving me – in some ways it makes it harder. And I still find it difficult looking back as I still empathise with his mental turmoil and find it hard to see myself as a real person in my past. I had spent so long attending to his needs and soothing out his days that I did not see my own wants and needs and had let that completely go for a very long period of time.
    Thanks for the post. It helps to know that others have experienced similar issues and have survived.

    • Oh, Elizabeth, we could be writing the very same book, you and I, right down to the ‘T’. I’m so sorry you too went through that experience. I, too, suffer with residual empathy (very strong at times) and it does nothing to help me get past it. It’s probably part of why I stuck with it so long. I did the leaving but it makes it no easier. I suffer every bit as much as you do. It’s gotten better in the last year as I’ve been able to move on and do positive things for myself… actually, to really FEED myself positive things. I have to work at it every day, tending to my own needs. It always feels so selfish, but it is SO essential to our own survival, and certainly our happiness (though I know you will regard that as less important, as I also sometimes make the mistake of doing.) Here’s a news flash… you and I are WORTH a whole lot more than we have given ourselves credit for, and although is good and noble to give to others, it is IMPERATIVE that we don’t lose ourselves in the process. I know… I know… you don’t have to tell me what you’re thinking in response… I know. But, PLEASE put tend to yourself with as much love as you did for him, and know that you are an exceptional woman for sacrificing as you have, but that you, like I, just didn’t know where to draw the line. Nobody was looking out for you, and now YOU need to. I’m wrapping my arms around you right now and giving you a big hug because I know you need it, and I so very much feel your sadness, every bit as if it were mine.

      • I am so grateful for you sharing this history with me, and also supporting me on my journey. It means a lot.
        I have done quite a bit of reading of other blogs and websites (narcissism, verbal abuse etc etc) and I find them depressing. People often stuck back in the past. Also not many of these ever draw the fact that in some instances there can be an illness behind those behaviors and so what are you supposed to do when you care for that person?
        The uplifting thing is that i have found that most ‘divorce’ blogs and those about relationships are NOT like that, they have some sort of positive message most of the time; or fellow bloggers that offer real help in getting one through a tough period. That is why i tend to write in that area (divorce; positive quotes; inspirations etc) and commenting on those blogs and leaving the darker blogs alone.
        because of those uplifting blog-posts and positive comments by readers and writers such as yourself, i do see myself moving past it all, moving on.
        Yes I do understand that I must take care of myself, and what is more that I now understand that I deserve that, I am worthy of that. Thanks for your support and for the hugs! I really needed that today.
        And hugs to you too 🙂

      • You’re so very welcome, Elizabeth. I highly recommend a hug a day. If you can get yourself out there in the community where other people are in need, you’re probably gonna find a whole lot of others who need a hug, too. My Mom and I ‘send hugs’ over the phone when we talk… we close our eyes and tell each other “I’m putting my arms around you right now and giving you a warm squeeze.” We each breathe in and feel the hug. It probably sounds silly but it works for us. 🙂 You’re only as alone as you let yourself be.

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