Whom do you appreciate?

To be able to truly appreciate others, then, we must first of all appreciate ourselves. We all think we do this, but most of us are frightfully misguided.

To be able to truly appreciate others, then, we must first of all appreciate ourselves. We all think we do this, but most of us are frightfully misguided.

by Shirley Osborne — 

“Two, four, six, eight. Who do you appreciate?” Really, whom do you appreciate? Why? How are these persons like you?  How are they different? How does their being similar to you ease your relationship? How does their being different from you enhance your friendship? How do you appreciate them?

Appreciation implies liking, but it is possible only with comprehension. To be able to appreciate, one must first know; one must understand. Appreciation follows only after investigation.

It is not love at first sight; rather, it compels us to take the time to observe, interrogate and get familiar with the object of our appreciation. To do this successfully, we are obliged to be sensitive and sensible, to be open and receptive and to be grateful. We cannot intelligently and meaningfully look favorably, or unfavorably, upon a thing we do not comprehend.

Appreciation does not require that we twist ourselves and our lives all out of shape in order to “get it.” It requires only that we not jump to facile conclusions, that we refrain from casting judgment, that we refuse to remain uninformed. Appreciation requires an understanding of who we are, which impels us to like a certain thing, or not.

To be able to truly appreciate others, then, we must first of all appreciate ourselves. We all think we do this, but most of us are frightfully misguided. Most of us do not, in fact, truly know or understand ourselves, and so are quite unable to fully appreciate our individual and separate selves.

Appreciation demands that we explore the full extent of our capabilities and potentialities. It requires that we define our ways of being in the world. It demands that we step out of the taped-up boxes and closed-in circles in which we have confined ourselves. It demands that we accustom ourselves anew, perhaps for the first time, to living without limits, to defining a personality unrestrained by the manipulations of circumstances, conducting an existence free from unwholesome and stultifying exceptions and intolerances.

To live a life grounded in appreciation is neither a simple goal, nor is it unmanageable. It does present a challenge, as does living. However, the rewards of living in appreciation, as with living in integrity or virtuously, are infinitely and unquestionably more gratifying than living without.

The steps to living in appreciation are few and simple.

  1. Consider first yourself. Examine your own positions, ambitions, needs, desires, notions, beliefs and feelings.
  2. Use your brain. Assume nothing. Always question.
  3. Cease to be judgmental.
  4. Be responsible. Take responsibility for your actions and for the emotions that drive them.
  5. Be ambitious. Desire the Good Life.
  6. Consider yourself equal. No more, no less.
  7. Keep your environment clean.
  8. Stand up for something. Pick a cause — any cause.
  9. Above all, get to know. We are most afraid when we do not know.

 

Shirley Osborne, MBA, is a communications specialist and Executive Director of Empress, Inc., a woman’s success-training organization. She also heads The Girls’ Education Project, a non-profit organization that prepares girls for successful womanhood. 602-367-3864 or shirley@realeducationforgirls.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 4, August/September 2005.

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