The Wonder in Every Moment
It started snowing with us in the last week of November and continued until just after Christmas. At first, the snow looked astonishingly beautiful as it rested neatly on everything in sight. But after a few days of getting stuck in the ice and cold, it became more difficult to appreciate. That's when everyone started to complain. They complained about the lack of grit, the disruption to the buses and trains, the closed schools, the missing shoppers, the freezing cold, our woeful lack of preparation, the heating bills, and on and on.
It got me thinking about how easy we move from a feeling of appreciation for the things in life to a feeling of disgruntlement when they don't go our way.
The 3 C's and the 3 A's
One of the first things I was taught at work was to notice the difference between the 3 C's of complaining, condemning and criticising and the 3 A's of acceptance, acknowledging, and appreciation and to always replace the 3 C's with the 3 A's.
That lesson has served me well in the years since. I remember in particular working with one colleague who was unremittingly hostile to me for no particular reason. There was just nothing I could do that seemed to improve his mood. That's when, tempted though I was to apply the 3 C's, I applied the 3 A's instead. On that occasion, I used a technique I have since taught to others, which is to see the jewels in other people's crowns even if they're not always obvious. I did this with this person and started to find things about him to appreciate. Very soon, our relationship started to change and in time he became a firm friend.
The Flower Pot That Just Missed
Not so long ago, I happened to be reading a story by writer Alan Cohen who says that we are all tempted to play victim in life when things don't seem to go our way. But playing victim doesn't serve us. It makes us feel hurt and small. And the amazing thing is, it's only a small shift on the perceptual scale from being a victim to being a healer.
This is how he tells the story.
A man was walking down a street one day when a flowerpot fell from an upstairs window and crashed onto the pavement just inches from where he was walking. The man paused and considered what he should do. He thought about three possibilities. Firstly, he could see the incident as a warning sign and immediately go and buy some kind of protective clothing. Secondly, he could see himself as a victim and immediately sue the owner of the flowerpot for the distress he might have experienced. Thirdly, he could go straight to a florist, buy another flower in a pot and give it to the owner to replace the one he lost. Which is what he did.
Find More Things to Appreciate in Life
I think there's a thread running from the appreciation of snowfall to the appreciation of what are usually thought of as bad moments. It's the realisation that every moment in life gives us the chance to experience the essential healing nature of the universe. In snowfalls, it's easier to see than in seemingly unpleasant co-workers or near-miss accidents. But the lesson is there just the same. It's not just appreciating the obviously beautiful but appreciating the rest. Life shouldn't be about the occasional wonderful moments. But about the wonder in every moment.
Appreciation: Video from Wrike
Here is a video from Wrike, called "Let's Rethink Employee Appreciation" that shows how the personal appreciation we have for each other at work is far more important than the hand-me-down appreciation gestures of the past.
Appreciation: Slideshare from Suresh Murali
Here's a slide presentation that might very well put tears in your eyes. It's about how everyone can show appreciation to everyone else and the difference they make.
Appreciation: Stories that Coach
Here are five anecdotes from the MTL "Life, Humility, and Appreciation" collection of Stories that Coach that illustrate the quality of appreciation and gratitude.
Appreciation: What Are Your Thoughts?
To end our mini-course on "Appreciation", here is your chance to record your thoughts about this topic. Simply give your answers to the questions and situations below. If you enter your email address, you'll be able to receive an email copy of your responses, (if you want), which you can then use as part of your ongoing development and learning. Thanks for being with us on MTL Mini-courses.