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Appreciative Living — How are you feeling?

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a monthly column series, The Appreciative Living Project, scheduled to continue through 2021.

Well, here we are — almost half way through 2021. How are you feeling?

We all have just experienced one of the most devastating and seemingly never-ending global pandemics that will be remembered for the rest of our lives. So, I ask again: How are you feeling?

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The impact of the pandemic upon our psyche has left many of us in kind of a surreal existence that is a mere shell of our former lives. So, again: How are you feeling?

I am asking this question because much of my time is spent helping people to recover and grow from challenges like this, both professionally and personally, by developing the skills and knowledge needed to change how they feel about their current reality. Each of us wants our lives to return to some semblance of normalcy and we all want to be able to tap into our best selves and make contributions in the areas of the things we care about. But I’ve seen a pause this year, a reluctance to step back out and make this year’s journey legendary.

Recently, I was scrolling through the posts of a private social media group that I belong to. The host posed a question that was similar to mine above, and I could hear the trepidation in the responses as I read through the posts. Many who responded in the chat truly wanted to “feel alright,” but for some reason they just didn’t, and they couldn’t put their finger on why.  They shared thoughts like, “Honestly, I’m struggling,” and “With COVID, I feel in such a pre-contemplation ditch of planning to reclaim myself.”

Coping with this once-in-a-century pandemic looks different for everyone. And the thoughts shared by each of the readers conveyed the struggle we all are grappling with. Most of us don’t have to imagine the feelings of isolation and malaise because we have experienced them over and over again for an entire year!

But the real question is, “So now what?”

It’s time to get back to our future!

I want to introduce you to a concept that my husband and I have created called The Appreciative Living Project. The project is a personal, social experiment that has helped many individuals like you and me to change the focus and awareness of our current reality in a way that leads to one that is more meaningful and fulfilling. I would like to invite you to join in and experience it for yourself.

We designed The Appreciative Living Project based on the Appreciative Inquiry Model that we use in our business to develop an array of business management tools ranging from innovative strategic plans to diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Appreciative Inquiry is a strengths-based process that focuses on conversations that lift us up and builds on our successes and what we value about each other.

So, let’s see if we can turn this mindset around and start to go “B.I.G.” — “Begin In Gratitude.” 

Spring 2021 is finally here, and as we embrace this new beginning, it means that each of us has been presented the opportunity to embrace a new perspective; a new way of looking at our lives and discovering a brighter, more appreciative future! So let’s go B.I.G. — what do we have to lose? Scientists and grandmothers alike have proven that being “appreciative” is good for our long-term health — and it’s contagious!

From now until the end of the year, let’s start practicing “appreciative living” together and see where we end up.  What my husband and I have found in doing this work is that, when people choose to focus on joyous and positive experiences, they begin to build resiliency and they are empowered to live life boldly with confidence.

So here’s how “The Appreciative Living Project” will work:

Grab a journal so you can jot down the appreciative “treasures” you find along this seven-month journey. Start small by just observing the little things around you.  It could be something or someone that made you smile when no one was looking, or a song you heard on the radio that made you sway in your seat or had your toes tapping under the desk. Find something every day and write it down, and you will start to train your brain to recognize these appreciative treasures.

Then, every third Thursday of the month, we will meet up back here in this column for success stories, golden nuggets and my personal tips regarding The Appreciative Living Project. And yes, we will check in on how we’re feeling.

I am encouraging you to share your experiences with us! You can write a letter to the editor about your appreciative journey or email me at I would love to hear how you are going B.I.G.! Remember, it’s contagious.

Here’s my belief: We can come out of this pandemic bitter, or we can come out better — it’s our choice. And what I know for sure is that living appreciatively doesn’t just make us better, it makes everyone around us better. Are you ready to get started? Let’s begin and we will check in with each other in a few weeks!

*Born and raised in Yellow Springs, the author is co-founder of The Jael Group with her husband of 50 years, Steven Roe, Sr., and specializes in team development using the Appreciative Inquiry model. She also facilitates community and corporate impact groups in “Courageous Conversations” around diversity and racial equity.

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