June 6, 2017

How Sustained Appreciation Can Help You Grow

This week I’m taking a subject off the shelves. I’ve had this thought again, it’s an old one, about the ability to store gratitude over time. More accurately, to be able to sustain appreciation.

Short Story

When we went to an accelerator program with our startup a few years ago, we knew the deal. Three months, $20k for 8% equity, rent our own place to stay. That was our reality and we were mentally prepared for it. On the very first day though, there was a bonus. The organisers threw in some complimentary gym access and free lunch, every day!

This was the first time I got to witness the effects of sustained appreciation. Well, the inability to display it.

You see, after just a week or so, there were already mutters in the cafeteria about the amount of food, the variety, and how busy the place was. What was a timely bonus a little while ago turned into something else to complain about.

Lesson learned

We struggle to sustain appreciation and build on it.

When we were first informed about the setup we knew that we’d probably pay around $1000 each over 3 months for lunch every day plus gym access if we wanted that too. When it was given to us for free, we re-adapted to make that our new baseline reality, which is fine. The issue came when we didn’t take a step back to acknowledge and appreciate that change of circumstance and it was taken for granted.

This happens every day: in friendships, family and relationships. We are given a new baseline as a result of a super act of kindness, a thoughtful gesture or a passionate encounter but by the next day, we often revert to thinking about what we don’t have. This mindset can be toxic and never allows you to truly build something special in either your home life or professionally.

We must learn how to sustain appreciation in order to grow and build on our relationships, to properly analyse situations and sometimes just to see the world as an aggregation of multiple acts rather than singular sporadic ones. Mastery of this skill to me is critical.

Actionable tip

Take a note pad, an iPad or whatever else you write on and do this exercise for one week.

First of all take 5 minutes to think about a recent situation change that has worked out for the better. Once you have, note it down. All you have to do is revisit it daily – set a reminder for early in the morning or whenever you have 2 spare minutes.

Look at what you wrote and re-feel the moment you first found that out. Like literally remember how it made you feel. Do that a few times within the 2 minutes you have allocated and then do it every day for a week. This is the very first building block of sustaining a feeling whether it’s appreciation or pretty much anything else.

Up to you always.

Until next time, here’s my Weekly list of awesome

Food as fuel – 3 ingredient healthy brownies

Must absorb –  Gary V on any platform. The guy is on fire.

Life hack – Lemon water in the morning. Any water is good too.

Ontological design –  Designing the tools and spaces that design us back.