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woman helping man in wheelchair during the day

I saw a happy woman today – someone who was vibrant with life. She was on television. She was so luminous with vitality that she seemed to leap right off the screen.

She said she had the greatest job in the world, and just looking at her, you couldn’t doubt it. She was a hospice caregiver, one who had just come off a long day and night dealing with her patients in serious conditions.

“We love what we do!” she was enthusing to the reporter, plainly proud and rightfully so. “We’re the ones who are running in while everybody else doesn’t know what to do.” I was struck by that expression, and by the joy she reflected when she said it.

That takes courage. Courage, they say, is not the lack of fear, but the ability to take action in spite of it. But where does that ability come from? What power grants the strength to overcome the sick, shaky feeling of fear?

Only one power is that strong – LOVE.

In the ultimate analysis, human beings have only two essential primal feelings: fear and love. Fear impels us to survive, and love enables us to thrive. This complementary pair of feelings has been the driving force of human history. In the struggle for happiness, however, there is only one special quality of love that really matters. That element of love is appreciation.

Appreciation is the highest, purest form of love. People who truly appreciate feel the same about the object of their appreciation whether it is present or absent. They appreciate it even if it is, by objective standards, not worthy of their appreciation.

When you enter into the active condition of appreciation – whether over something as common as a sunrise or sunset or as profound as the love in your child’s eyes or the love of a caregiver for a patient – your normal world stops, and a state of grace begins. During active appreciation, your brain, your heart and endocrine system synchronize and heal in harmony.

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