To be effective and enduring changemakers, we can’t just focus on with what’s WRONG with the world, but what’s GOOD. Here are some tools to help you with that.
If you know me at all, you’ll probably hear me talking about the great value of joy, presence, and love.
So, you might be a little surprised to find out that I’m instinctually more of a glass-half-empty kind of person.
BUT, I’m also someone who very deliberately cultivates a glass-half-full energy.
And I’ll tell you why…
As changemakers, we’re usually so aware of and intimately acquainted with what’s wrong and horrible in the world. Not only do we see the pain around us more clearly, we tend to feel it more deeply.
In fact, humans, generally, have a built-in negativity bias that makes us more likely to stay focused on the bad stuff.
We come by it honestly…
That’s because, in early human history, it was the beings who were on high alert — always scanning the landscape for what was wrong — that tended to be the ones who survived. And even though we no longer have sabre tooth tigers waiting for us around every corner, our wiring still convinces us that if we don’t remain hypervigilant, we’ll get swallowed whole.
With all this considered, it’s easy to forgive us for losing sight of the vast love, beauty, and wonder that also exists in this life.
This is how changemakers end up starving
This is a huge problem, though, if you’re somebody trying to help heal the world, because these are exactly the qualities that FEED and fortify us humans.
Without being nourished regularly by the sweeter stuff of life, we can certainly venture into the darker, broken places in the world, but we won’t have the strength to transform them.
That’s why I cultivate APPRECIATION like my hair’s on fire.
Appreciation powers us up
I have appreciation practices in my daily life for tuning into what is good… to what’s satisfying, awesome, or loving.
These practices are a powerful way to balance out my negativity bias and build up my reserves of inspiration and resilience for when I need to navigate darker waters.
I’ve done an appreciation exercise almost every day for the past 10+ years now, and this daily 5 minutes has helped build a radar in me that is able to hone in on a more expansive view.
Not only has this made my life better, it’s made my work in the world far more effective.
Making appreciation a habit
If you’d like to try a little appreciation action, here are three different tools for you to give a whirl:
- Appreciation List – Make a list of 10-20 things daily that you’re appreciative for in the past day, in the here and now, or just ahead.
Ie. my coworker’s laugh, having a chance to help families who are struggling, that yummy vegan donut I had for breakfast, being able to vote this week, the sound of the songbirds waking me up, how the anger that came up in me led me to say no to taking on that extra report, the colour emerald green, that friendly man who held the door open for everyone, having a day off.
Just be sure to change it up every day and really mine the day past and ahead as well as the current moment for what feels good.
- Appreciation Share – Make a ritual of sharing your appreciation with certain others in your life. For example, maybe you and a friend can text each other, at the end of the day, 3 things you appreciate about the day that was. Or you could end your weekly team meeting by having everybody share one thing they appreciated in the team space this past week. Or maybe at the dinner table, you could have everyone share 5 things that were good about the last day.
- Appreciation Tie – Place a piece of yarn, string, or an elastic band around your wrist. Whenever you notice it or touch it today, stop and think of one thing to appreciate in this very moment. Breathe into the feeling it brings up.
I’d love for you to choose one practice to commit to trying it for at least a WEEK.
DROP ME A LINE and share with me what practice you’re going to try.
And speaking of appreciation, I just want to say how much I appreciate YOU being part of my community and taking the time to read my thoughts… It means so much to me.
P.S. Appreciation is a powerful tool, but I never use it to avoid or paper over pain. It’s important to ALSO have practices to process the very real pain of living in the world and trying to address suffering.
Check out the REPLAY of my recent The Changemaker Sessions: What to Do with the Pain?… I take you through different pain processing tools that you can use regularly to work through and release the pain inherent of trying to help heal this aching world. Watch the REPLAY here.