One day after 9/11, I would like to depart a bit from the primary focus of this blog and add some personal reflections onBeing Positive and on Appreciation, which is what we probably need to survive in these times.
I remember a few years ago when, over brunch, my good friend Rohit proposed that Happiness = Reality — Expectations.
(Play with it. It is powerful)
A few months later after this discovery, at a public concert, while some friends were having a lively debate on this equation, a nearby stranger proposed a nice refinement:
Happiness = (Appreciation, of what we have, and can do) x ( Reality — Expectations)
Which is nicely phrased in the sentence I have read in a number of places
We need Serenity to accept
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Mahatma Gandhi encouraged us to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
There is much good around us, and much more good of us can do. We probably would benefit from having easier access to a CNN of Positive News, of Kind Gestures, Unexpected Generosity, Magic Coincidences, Beautiful Growth.
Some constant sources of personal inspiration, encouragement, and Appreciation:
- The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, that supports amazing and inspiring agents of change worldwide.
No matter our religion, or lack thereof, we can benefit from what the book Daniel Goleman’s Destructive Emotions: How Can We overcome Them proposes as “A Gym for Emotional Skills.” Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio opened new ground in his seminal Descartes Error book on the role of emotions in our decision-making.
How can one train this muscle of Appreciation? Well, no clinical studies here, but my wife and I like to regularly do an exercise proposed by Jeffrey Brantley in Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices To Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long:
First, travel back, in your mind’s eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaustion, and let you relive that moment as vividly as you can.
Then, remember, re-experience, a loving exchange that really touched you. Pause. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what happened around you.
Next, visualize the most caring gesture you have ever received, as full of details as possible. Who gave you that gift of caring. How you felt.
Now, travel to the most magnificent place you have seen. Enjoy the views. Pause. Listen. Smile. Appreciate.