Sunday, April 18, 2010

Freshness of Appreciation

I remember once taking a correspondence course entitled Pastoral Counseling.
The summer break of 1990. I wanted to knock off a few extra credits to ease up my regular workload in my final year of a Bachelor of Theology program.
No, not Pastureal Counseling [which is designed for cows].
Pastoral Counseling --> designed to help a pastor / minister help parishioners in their journey through life.
As it turned out, my life as a pastor was short-lived. I am now a full-fledged heretic.
But I learned a lot in that course that has stayed with me, and helped me -- and one section that was the most memorable, the most meaningful, involved something known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
At the bottom of the Maslow pyramid are the most basic things that people need in order to live a healthy life -- the physiological needs of food, water, shelter, etc. As one moves upward in the pyramid, the life skills become more specialized, and at the top of the pyramid is a thing called "Self-Actualization".
Click --> HERE for an illustration.
I became fascinated with finding out more about this top level of the pyramid.
Maslow breaks it into many sub-categories, but the one that has stayed with me is called "Continued Freshness of Appreciation."
Maslow discovered that healthy, mature adults exhibit a capacity to appreciate even the most ordinary events in their lives with a sense of newness, awe, pleasure and even ecstasy. They seldom became bored with life experiences. Thus, for such a person, any sunset may be as beautiful as their first one, any flower may be a breathtaking loveliness, even after he/she has seen a million flowers. For such people, even the casual workaday, moment to moment business of living can be thrilling, exciting and ecstatic.

For all of my other faults -- things in my life that are not quite what they should be -- I can honestly say that I believe I have at least achieved this one aspect of Self-Actualization, this thing that Maslow called Freshness of Appreciation.
It is an aspect of life that I hold most dear. A cherished thing.
It is the sort of thing where a person that does not make a lot of money, has an incredibly shaky and unstable future, drives a rickety old car, lives with only a cat, and is not good-looking -- that kind of person can step out onto their balcony on a Sunday morning, [see above photo] set their coffee mug on the railing, close their eyes, breathe in, and not even be able to find the words to begin to describe how much they appreciate life.
In fact, searching for the words and not finding them is how you know you are there.
Notice also that it is not momentary. It is not called Fleeting Freshness of Appreciation.
It is to be -- Continued….



Beth said...

Great view you have – I appreciate its beauty – and I do so freshly. ;)

Cipriano said...

Cheers, Beth.

Stefanie said...

Continued freshness of appreciation. I like that and think I manage it nicely for the most part. You have a lovely view! I thought at first the coffee cup was magically floating and thought you were either cultivating a new talent or getting really good with photoshop :)

Isabella K said...

"Maslow discovered that healthy, mature adults exhibit a capacity to appreciate even the most ordinary events in their lives with a sense of newness, awe, pleasure and even ecstasy."

Really? Because I think I kind of got there in the last 2 years, which is good for me (amazing and ecstatic, actually), but I am surrounded by adults who can't do this. I mean, there's an awful lot of people who have trouble with the fresh appreciation. Is that a defining characteristic for Maslow? — would he say these people are not healthy and mature? Or are they in fact experiencing but on a level that I'm not aware of it (which I can accept, but why then do they look at me like I'm crazy when I broach the subject), or at a level they're not aware of (which kind of seems contrary to the point)? Really interesting subject, I think.

I'm glad you've achieved some self-actualization!