Thank you Dr. Gordon Livingston, author of “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart” for a wise book about lessons learned in life. I have always been grateful to learn from others’ mistakes. Why should I go through the pain if I can learn the lesson without it?
Many chapters of Gordon’s book have inspired ideas for this blog, and this one is, so far, the best. The idea came from the chapter titled, “Nobody likes to be told what to do.” Though I do not have people to boss around, such as children or employees, I still wanted to see what Doctor Livingston (I presume) had to say. (Sorry, I had to throw in that historic line.)
Very briefly, he starts with the supposition that we all tend to be oppositional. We can’t help it from age 2 and on. But parents can take their desire to protect the child too far by imagining the opposition is going to ruin the child’s life. Typically, the parents impose rules, punishments and consequences that end up supporting the child’s fears that the parents do not understand and so they must be opposed.
Dr. Livingston suggests a better model for handling life’s instability than fear: commitment, determination and optimism. That’s what we can model. What we can do to foster those life relationships is giving them appreciation.
Appreciation is another face of the kind of gratitude that I have delineated as one aspect of our true nature. (Remember, our true, eternal nature is essentially made up of four “things”: Love, Understanding, Gratitude and Energy.) Appreciation and approval help fill out the dimensions of gratitude. I can have gratitude for situations, even when they are difficult. I can give approval to some plan or task well done. Appreciation is how I can connect with people that I live or work with.
What I am loving about appreciation right now is that it is the best way to focus my energies when I am relating to others. I am often guilty of what Dr. Livingston wrote about: fear and the resulting “need” to control others lest they disappoint me, hurt me, embarrass me or try to gain control over me. But fear cannot exist in the same space as appreciation.
I believe appreciation can do wonders for any working or family relationship. Appreciation for others around me will help me focus on the positive. It will help the receiver open up to me and to flourish in the shared space. With appreciation in the air, children and co-workers can put their energies on solutions rather than protections and preemptive maneuvers.
Try a little more appreciation and if the results are as I suspect, I’d love to hear back in the comment section.
Dr. Gordon Livingston’s book is available on Amazon.