There is an indigenous community that has a tradition that whenever one of its members breaks a moral code in the community, he or she is put in the middle of a circle and surrounded by the other members of that community. Those on the outer circle take turns telling the person within the circle how much they love him or her, the good things about that person and all the wonderful things that person has done over the years. In essence, the members appreciate and remind the individual what is positive about them until there is a shift within that person. The previous transgressor then goes back into the community living and acting from that space of appreciation.
This tradition is a reminder that it is important to examine what we are looking for in the world and in other people as well as what we are interested in. Whatever we look for we will ultimately find and experience. What we see shapes how we change and where we look shapes what we see. Thus, it is important to ask, “Where are we looking?”
Organizations and people work at their best when they focus on their strengths, successes, hopes and dreams rather than their problems. When they focus on affirmation and appreciation, that which they appreciate increases. Psychologist Abraham Maslow recognized this and transformed the psychological viewpoint of his day when he examined self-actualized human beings. He examined what worked in people. He examined health rather than pathology and brought a revolutionized approach to psychology.
This is the quest for us. We are to wake up with a joyful enthusiasm and appreciation for what’s working. We can start with any small thing and build upon that and, fully aware what we give attention to, we amplify.
A common practice of people who live the life they love is celebrating their successes. Often we are conditioned, sometimes from childhood, by other people’s filters to look for defects and what is missing in life. As a result, we reinforce a belief that we are incomplete. It is important to dwell on our strengths and remind ourselves of our successes to affirm the truth of our being: that we are whole, worthy and important.
One thing we can do is inventory and celebrate those successes. Here’s an exercise to help do that:
List everything in your life—skills, accomplishments, relationships, health, money possession, etc. — that you feel good about. It can be a long list and should include anything you have learned to do: drive a car, cook, the friends you have made, and so on. We do that with the understanding that any significant accomplishment is a result of a series of small steps done over time. Next, celebrate and appreciate everything on your list.
As we practice paying attention and shining the light of appreciation on the good that is operating in our life, what we appreciate grows beyond what we may have imagined. It is a superpower we can always access.
Peace and Blessings,