If there was one thing we could focus on to take our personal and spiritual growth to ever expanding levels what would that be? And how would we go about it?
There is one thing than can be done that would ultimately encompass all of the major key principles of personal development and that is: have heartfelt appreciation for everything in our lives. Appreciation administered correctly to yourself will drag along with it every major attribute needed to fully access true-self and embrace all of life in every sense of the word and in every possible way.
Having an appreciation for all that life is, is simply being thankful to it. Appreciation is one of the major catalyst to consciousness, because through appreciation we are able to accept the unacceptable and the unimaginable nature of reality. Thankfulness ultimately leads to fully loving and respecting what or whom you are thankful to. It can create a magical chain reaction that leads to true emotional freedom and empowerment, making it's application to one's life infinite, since what we can appreciate and be thankful for are limitless.
Those things which we find most difficult to appreciate in our lives actually hold the keys to access the portals to our greatest potential. Take for example being appreciative when a loved one is on the "attack" or is being abrasive, most people sort of lose control and get on the defense against that person. The question then is: who controls you, the other person's anger or you? For most people, the answer is other people's anger.
So what is there to be appreciative of in these situations? This leads us to the insight: they are your reflection, your mirror! How can that be possible be you ask? Good question. The answer is that their anger can show you your level of self control, your self-worth among other things. In a nutshell their anger will show you who you are, what you believe in and what your commits are. Under this perspective it can become easy to learn to appreciate them for showing you who you are and where your weaknesses lie.
Now guess what will happen when you fully integrate real heart-based appreciation with your difficult friend or loved one. You will have peace the next time they do become angry and abrasive. This means that they will not have anyone to "fight" with. And if you do not engage yourself in their anger because you are actual thanking their anger the only conclusion they will ever be able to draw out of their interaction with you is that they are out of control and you are in control. Then you have the control over yourself and the ultimate influence over them. When you really apply these principles in your life the results can be absolutely amazing. But don't believe a word I say, my ultimate goal is not to convince anyone but rather to help them have the experience, because experience is the ultimate truth for all of us. So with that said, let's put this to the test a bit.
Here are some steps you can take to integrate appreciation of those difficult things in life. First, think of a person with whom you sometime lose control over yourself with. Once you have identified this individual your intention during this appreciation process will be to let go of your defensive reaction and to settle in with appreciation. This is key! Your intention will control the outcome. In addition, you must be willing to sustain this intention UNTIL! That's right - until. You must commit until it is done. Correct? Good. OK.
Think of this person bringing into focus their anger and sustain that focus, then think to yourself or speak out loud the following:
This is just one example. Obviously you can do this with an infinite amount of things and circumstances. Let's go over some other key areas to apply this to: money, family members, God, the universe, your neighbors, you work, your childhood, painful memories, fears, worries, and more.
Following is one of my favorite ways to apply appreciation in a way which has the greatest immediate impact on the quality of life. I like to refer to this as my circle of comfort...
I simple tell my mind/subconscious mind to bring in anything and everything that I am not 100% comfortable with in my life and in my immediate environment. Tell your mind to bring in as much detail as possible of what is not comfortable for you, no matter how insignificant it may seem. It could be that the bathroom door is open, anything at all - you get the picture. The beauty of this process is that it will allow you to bundle up many, many things at once by leveraging the subconscious mind's ability to process a million times more information that we can consciously. What will happen is that in less than 5-10 seconds it will bring up things you didn't notice, were uncomfortable for you, but nevertheless were there bothering you unconsciously.
Here is what you can do. Close your eyes and tell you mind: "Bring in to my awareness everything that I an not happy with right now." After about 5-10 second, more if you need, simply begin the same process as above, repeating the statements with the intention of appreciating all of those things that are not comfortable for you. Continue repeating the phrases until you feel completely appreciative of those things.
How did it go? Feel totally at peace now? If not, just repeat those statements again and again until you are able to let go completely. It is a matter of sustaining your intention until the subconscious mind perceives that it is safe to let go. I hope that helped.