The Power of Appreciation

Solutions are often counterintuitive.


When we experience a problem, the first thing we do is complain about it. Maybe not by expressing it in words, but almost certainly by thinking it and by showing it. For the time being it defines our attitude; towards the problem, but sometimes, as an extension of it, even towards ourselves, towards others or towards the world in general.


It is because of this (change in) attitude that we start experiencing the problem as something worse than it is. And very soon after – sometimes it only takes a couple of nanoseconds – we find ourselves in a vicious circle in which our experience of the problem causes us to complain more, causing us to experience it as more problematic … and so on and so on. This might result in a state of constant complaining and constant suffering.


But sometimes the problems aren’t problems at all. They start out to be, simply because of our interpretation of them. It may even be that situations become problems because we look at them with a complaining state of mind. We don’t do this consciously of course, but one experience from the past may have spiraled us into it, causing us to look at life in general with a different perspective.


The fact that some people never seem to have any problems, and other people always do, may be caused by this distinctiveness in perception. And of course, life sometimes sends us into circumstances that we all consider as problematic, but even than it’s about how we deal with them. We don’t have to let our predicaments dictate our entire reality.


Complaining, although it seems to be the natural thing to do when a dilemma presents itself, only produces the opposite effect of what we are really hoping for, namely for the problem to go away; it often only solidifies its presence. Only the counterintuitive solution can get us where we want to go.


Appreciation is the way out of this negative spiral. As hard as it may seem when you’re knee deep in trouble, being thankful creates a more positive state of mind, through which the experience of a problem diminishes (while the situation itself may still be present). In the end it creates a more positive attitude and a higher state of overall well-being when we praise life, instead of cursing it.


Complaining is actually also something we teach each other. We sort of infect each other with our view on things and with the sentiments that come along with it. We easily complain along, which also creates a vicious circle of complaint between us, next to what we already do to ourselves (as described above). The contrary thing to do is change the subject to a more positive one or retreat from the discussion if this seems not to work. Always, first of all, establish and maintain your own grace.


To do so, the end goal is to establish a grateful state of mind, but in order to achieve that we must first look at the situations we perceive as problematic and change our focus. All situations can be interpreted as something positive or negative. Discovering the bright side, and finding the courage to embrace it, even when others don’t (seem to), is essential in making a change and find something to be thankful for.


And don’t be thankful simply once. Its effects won’t last. We must recondition ourselves to make a lasting change. Keep at it until you make it part of who you are. Be thankful whenever, wherever and to whomever you can.

Jerry Corstens is a visionary dreamer with a blind passion for self-reflection and contemplating life, a self-proclaimed philosopher with poetic ambitions. He's serious about helping people with the insights he gathered, but playful in the way he communicates his wisdom. It made him leave a career as environmental engineer behind, in favor of becoming a personal development coach and thought-provoking writer.

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