Updated: Apr 27, 2022
There is an indigenous community with a tradition that whenever one of its members breaks a moral code in the community, they are 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 them—the good things about that person, and all the beautiful things they have done over the years. In essence, the members appreciate and remind the individual what is terrific 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 reminds us that it is critical to examine what we are interested in, and what we are looking for in the world and in other people. 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 essential to ask, "Where are we looking?"
If we want to find problems and what's wrong in our life or our world, we don't have to look far or long. Advertisers will have us believe that if we don't have their product, there is something wrong with us. The internet and social media are chock full of unsettling and disturbing news, whether about war, crime, money, or politics. Writers exploit people's negativity bias, a term for our collective hunger to hear and remember bad news, and our inclination to respond quickly to negative words. However, organizations and people work best when focusing on their strengths, successes, hopes, and dreams rather than their problems. When they concentrate 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 studied what worked in people. He looked at health rather than pathology and brought a revolutionized approach to psychology. Maslow's approach is the quest for us. We can start with any small thing and build upon it, fully aware that what we give attention to we amplify. We are to wake up with joyful enthusiasm and appreciation for what's working.
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 essential to dwell on our strengths and remind ourselves of our successes, and to affirm the truth of our being that we are whole, worthy, and meaningful.
One thing we can do is take inventory and celebrate those successes. Here's an exercise to help do that:
Step One: List everything in your life that makes you feel good. Include skills, accomplishments, relationships, health, money, possessions, etc. Make it a long list and include anything you have learned to do (such as drive a car or cook), the friends you have made, and so on with the understanding that any significant accomplishment results from a series of small steps done over time.
Step Two: Celebrate and appreciate everything on your list.
As we practice paying attention and shining the light of appreciation on the good operating in our lives, what we appreciate grows beyond what we may have imagined.
Peace & Blessings,