Appreciation is a wonderful thing

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

—Voltaire, 16th Century French Writer

Image of Voltaire

Image of Voltaire from Wikiquote

Voltaire lived to be eighty-four years old. Considering he was born in 1694, that is practically a miracle, given the poor sanitation levels and lack of healthcare available in Europe at the time.

Perhaps it was his considerable appreciation for the world around him that had him experience life with a sense of greater abundance and awe. With such a healthy and robust view of life, who wouldn’t keep reaching for one more day, and then another?

EXERCISE:

How might you experience and more fully appreciate everything and everyone around you in the coming days? How would such a mindful practice lead you to a richer, more fulfilling life?

The Most Important Things are the Hardest to Say

“The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them.”

—Stephen King, American Author of horror, suspense, and science fiction

Image from Unsplash by Aaron Burden

Last August, my wife Wendy and I took an extraordinary vacation with two friends. We went to Africa, Ireland, and Iceland.

As I so often do, I took a journal to capture our daily adventures, but found that I had surprisingly little interest in detailing our many wonderful experiences through the written word.

When I did write something, it felt like a recounting or summary of the days, and had none of the emotions and deep feelings of awe we experienced. I did, however, find that taking pictures lived up to the “thousand words” motto – and we sure took a bunch!

EXERCISE:

Reflect on some of the most important things in your life and consider how you experience them beyond the limits of any words. Feel free to reply to this post with your best description of what you observe, even if it falls a bit short of the full experience.

Don’t be satisfied with stories

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

—Rumi, 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet

Image of a woman watching TV and eating popcorn

Image from Unsplash by Jeshoots.com

One of my daily rituals is to read the Word of the Day provided by Merriam-Webster. You can subscribe by email at Merriam-Webster.com.

The word of the day on which I wrote this post was vicarious. It pertains to today’s quote in that we gain a particular experience in our imagination through the feeling and actions of another person.

Consider all the secondhand and surrogate experiences we take in through television, movies, sporting events, social media, and of course, good old gossip.

How does ingesting vicarious stories and experiences truly contribute positively to your world, beyond the distracting, entertainment value?

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can and will you live, moving forward, to become far more of the main character of your own life story?

Experience and enthusiasm

“Experience and enthusiasm are two fine business attributes seldom found in one individual.”

—William Feather, 19th Century American Publisher

Image of a man leaping for joy on a mountain top

Image from Unsplash by Peter Conlan

How much experience do you have in your current profession?

How enthusiastic do you feel each morning as you head off to work?

If you are among the fortunate few, you would score high on each measure.

If, however you are like many people, you often begin your work efforts or new job with considerable enthusiasm, and only minimal or modest experience.

As time moves on and experience increases, many find their excitement and enthusiasm beginning to fade, sometimes to the point of reaching a dead end.

EXERCISE:

What strategies and approaches can and will you take on to maintain or – better yet – increase your current levels of enthusiasm? How might this help you gain greater experience and mastery in your chosen profession?

We are inclined to think

“We are inclined to think that if we watch a football game or a baseball game, we have taken part in it.”

—John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Image of a crowd at a sporting event

Image from Flickr by Danny Molyneux

Are you a sports fan? How many hours a week do you watch sporting events on TV? How often do you go to games or events in person?

Without question, the energy and excitement around sporting events – football, baseball, the upcoming Olympics, even golf – can be off the charts. Many people experience the by-product bursts of adrenaline through our proximity to these spectacles.

What if you lived in Roman times and were among the spectators in the Colosseum, where the game involved life or death? Clearly you would not wish to be one of the people facing the lions!

EXERCISE:

Where in your personal or professional life are you sitting on the sidelines as a spectator, thinking that somehow, you are actually in the game?

Where is it time to suit up and get on the field to actually experience life’s contests yourself?

Your Story Could Be The Key

“Your story could be the key that unlocks some else’s prison. Don’t be afraid to share it.”

—Author Unknown

Image of an open book

How many of the following roles do you currently play in your personal or professional life?

•  Parent                      •  Teacher                  •  Coach                 •  Trainer
•  Mentor                     •  Advisor                   •  Consultant           •  Role Model
•  Spiritual Guide          • Trusted Friend          •  Subject Matter Expert

If you selected several, you must have a considerable amount of life experience to share with family, friends, and colleagues who may be experiencing various setbacks and challenges.

EXERCISE:

Although I frequently encourage a “coach approach” to facilitate the internal learning capacity of those around us, please take the wisdom of today’s quote and note when it is time to share your stories and experiences generously as a contribution to those in need.

A Collection of Experiences

“Life is simply a collection of experiences. Your job is to increase the intensity and then the frequency of those experiences.”

-Jim Rohn, late American entrepreneur, author & motivational speaker

Life is about making memories. If you doubt this idea, you only need to examine Facebook and other Social Media sites to observe the highlights from someone’s vacation, weekend, or other significant events. We all like to see what interesting and sometimes amazing experiences our friends and families are having. Of course, we far prefer to engage in these experiences ourselves!

EXERCISE:

Create your own one week, one month, and one year bucket list to be more intentional about increasing the intensity and frequency of your life experience collection.

The Things We Know Best

“The things we know best are things we haven’t been taught.”

—Luc de Clapiers, 18th Century Marquis de Vauvenargues

My first career, fresh out of college, was as a teacher. It was my belief at the time that it was my job to literally pour my knowledge of life science into the minds of 25 sixth grade students. What I discovered was that very little got in, and even less of my brilliant lessons stuck for more than a week or two.

One of my fascinations over the years, and particularly since I began my career in coaching, is what some call the “stickiness” factor. It turns out that most of life’s greatest and enduring lessons occur through experiential learning, in which the student is fully engaged, even lost, in their own inquiry.

EXERCISE:

What areas of personal or professional development are you and others in your world most open, interested, and excited about? How can you structure a deep and meaningful learning experience in these areas?

If You Are Irritated

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

-Rumi, 13th Century Persian Poet

Image from Flickr by Orbital Joe

Image from Flickr by Orbital Joe

When was the last time you visited a fine jewelry store? Imagine yourself in one, examining all the beautiful diamonds and gem stones.

I am sure that If you were to go back in time to when these stones were pulled form the earth, you wouldn’t recognize them. They would be dull, rough, and unremarkable. It takes considerable rubbing and skilled cutting to bring out their brilliance.

EXERCISE:

How and where can you examine and appreciate the daily rubs of life as experiences and resources to bring about your personal and professional brilliance?

Choices Reflect Your Hopes

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

-Nelson Mandela

image from www.cbc.ca

image from www.cbc.ca

There are two primary schools of thought regarding what spurs people into action. The first is what I call the “avoiding pain” strategy, in which people examine the bad things that may occur if they don’t take action. Some sales methods take advantage of this approach by turning up the level of pain in order to compel people to buy a product or service.

The alternative strategy, suggested in Nelson Mandela’s statement, could be called the “pleasure strategy.” Here, a compelling and hopeful objective mobilizes us to choose certain actions and behaviors that will help us realize our desirable future.

EXERCISE:

What will you do to make the majority of your life choices—personally and professionally—from a more hopeful perspective?