The holiday season is a reminder for each of us to show appreciation. Appreciation for relationships, opportunities, the service of others, and for the good and challenging times that life hurls at us. Expecting to see the best in you, individuals around you, and challenging situations offer us different perspectives and insights that we may not have recognized previously.
Some might say, “It is difficult to appreciate the best in myself, others, and situations when things are so difficult in our nation right now. I don’t feel like appreciating others because of my own hardships.”
Indeed things may be tough: relationships are strained, bills are piling up, layoffs are on the horizon, money is low, company profits are down, and you may feel there is little to be appreciative about.
However, despite not feeling well initially, the placebo effect reveals to us that when we go to our doctor and we expect him or her to address our needs and provide us with medicine to make us feel better, oftentimes we get better. We began to feel better physically and psychologically. We trust our doctor and expect that he is looking out for our best interest. What if later, you discovered that your doctor had actually prescribed nothing more than sugar pills. This is precisely what happened in studies after studies centered on the placebo effect. Many patients believed that they were taking medication to help them get better despite what they initially observed, or felt in their bodies and they got better. The word placebo is Latin means “I will please.” It is an expected action. We have the power to will ourselves to appreciative and see the best in ourselves, others, and challenging situations. What we focus on becomes our reality. Focusing on the best allows us to see the best and appreciate the best, creating a new reality.
The Pygmalion effect says that our expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we expect to be appreciative and see the best in others our gratefulness will trump the physical conditions.
When you expect to see the best in yourself, individuals, and situations you begin to experience the best in others and situations leading to greater appreciation.
Here are some questions to explore beginning to appreciate and see the best in you, others, your organization, and in challenging situations:
Think of a time when you had a peak experience when you felt most alive, engaged, and proud of yourself:
1. What were the circumstances?
2. What was the outcome?
3. How did you celebrate?
4. What makes you feel proud and capable today?
5. What is the legacy that you would like to leave behind?
1. What do you appreciate most about this person?
2. What are the strengths of this individual?
3. What makes this person unique?
4. How have you shown appreciation towards this individual in the past?
5. What successes would you like to celebrate with this individual?
1. What attracted you to your organization?
2. What are you most proud of about the organization?
3. How can you build on your talents, skills, and competencies to strengthen your team or organization?
4. What strengths, opportunities, and relationships could you leverage within your organization to help move forward within the organization or somewhere else?
5. What support will you ask for to be at your best within your organization?
1. What did it feel like when you had the confidence to face similar situations?
2. What do you need to feel on top of your game in this situation?
3. What support have you provided to others in similar situations?
4. What would a breakthrough look like for you in this situation?
5. Who would be involved in this breakthrough?
(Appreciative Inquiry by Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D., 1999)
Expect to see the best in yourself, others, and challenging situations and you will always be in a place of appreciation!