Appreciative Living

Appreciative Living

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Appreciative Living is a process or philosophy that attempts to lead the user to a positive experience. [] It is based on the principles of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), [ [ Case Western Reserve AI Commons] ] in combination with consistent philosophies from Positive Psychology and law of attraction. It is a strength-based, positive approach to life that suggests we create our experience through our thinking.

Work on this approach began in 2000 by Jacqueline Kelm, who was a student of David Cooperrider, the pioneer of Appreciative Inquiry at Case Western Reserve University. There were five principles originally created in AI, [Cooperrider, D.L., & Srivastva, S. (1987) "Appreciative Inquiry in Organizational Life." "Research in Organization Change and Development". Vol. 1. Edited by W. Pasmore and R. Woodman. JAI Press] which were intended for use in organization development. Kelm took these principles and applied them to the level of the individual for personal development, and created supporting exercises. They were presented at the 2007 International AI Conference [ [] ] On-line presentations from the 2007 International AI Conference on the Power of Positive Change.] on the Power of Positive Change. A summary of the AI principles and their Appreciative Living translation follow:

Several consultants who have been working with AI for a number of years have proposed five additional principles in a variety of publications as cited below. These emergent principles are summarized here, along with how they apply in Appreciative Living:

The AIA 3-Step Process
All these principles taken together provide a philosophy for living that suggests we can change our experience by changing our thinking. Kelm went a step further and created a new process for applying all these principles in three steps as follows: (5) APPRECIATING What Is IMAGINING the Ideal ACTING in AlignmentThese three steps can be performed in any order, though they are described in a progressive sequence here for ease of explanation. The first is Appreciating What Is, and the essence of this step is learning to find the good in a situation or person. It is learning to see the hidden potential and positive aspects, and intentionally placing attention there. It does not mean ignoring what we perceive as bad, denying it, or pretending it is not there. It is acknowledging all aspects of the situation or person, but choosing to place attention on what is wanted, rather than what is not. The outcome of this step is feeling good.

The second step in the process is Imagining the Ideal. This step suggests we need to identify and picture what we really want in order to make it happen. Visualization is the cornerstone of this step, and the outcome is getting clear.

The final step is Acting in Alignment. In this step we deliberately do something to shift our thinking or images to align with what we want. The outcome of this step is taking action.

There are several questions that can be asked during each of the steps to guide you through the process. (9)

1. Appreciating: Do I feel appreciative or good about this situation or person? If not, I know I am not focusing on the good. How can I shift to see more of what I desire?
2. Imagining: Am I clear about what I want and am I giving this my attention? What images am I holding? My feelings again provide helpful information, because if I’m not feeling good, I’m not focusing on or visualizing what I want, and I’m impeding its creation.
3. Acting: Do my current actions and thinking align with what I want? Is what I’m saying, asking, and doing consistent with what I desire? If not, what small change can I make that would help move me just a bit closer to my ideal?

The Appreciative Living Joy Study

This AIA 3-step process was validated by a nation-wide joy study by Kelm in 2006. (10) In the study, 30 participants from across the US and Canada performed 3 joy-focused exercises based on the model for a period of 28 days. One exercise was completed for each step, with the focus of creating more joy. The exercises follow:

1. Each day, list three things you appreciate, and take 30 seconds to close your eyes and really feel the gratitude for each one.2. Each day, answer this question: What one thing can you do today, no matter how small, to increase your joy?3. Once a week, take 15 minutes to visualize your ideal, joy-filled life.

The results showed a statistically significant difference in participant’s happiness levels after 28 days of doing the exercises. People not only got happier, but described a variety of benefits such as improvements in clarity and focus. (11) Possibly more impressive, was that participants were still significantly happier six months later.

These three basic steps supported by the AI principles form the backbone of Appreciative Living. It has been applied and written about in a variety of areas of personal development from dating (12) and health (13) to career planning(14) and parenting(15). This work shows how the use of such tools as an appreciation list, visioning, and appreciative questions can increase your personal effectiveness and power. The result is a learning approach best described as a journey, not a destination.

ee also

*Appreciative Inquiry
* Positive Psychology
* Self-Help
* Organization Development


[(5)] Kelm, Jacqueline. (2005). "Appreciative Living: The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry in Personal Life." Wake Forest, NC: Venet Publishers.
[(6)] Whitney, D. & Trosten-Bloom, A. (2003). "The Power of Appreciative Inquiry". San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
[(7)] Stavros, J. & Torres, C. (2005). "Dynamic Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Daily Living." Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publishing.
[(8)] Barrett, F. & Fry, R. "Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity." Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publishing. (2005)
[(9)] "Walk the Talk: The Principles of AI in Daily Living". Published in "The AI Practitioner: The International Journal of AI Best Practices." Feb, 2006.
[(10)] Kelm, Jacqueline. (2009) "The Joy of Appreciative Living: Your 28-Day Plan to Greater Happiness in Three Incredibly Easy Steps."New York, NY: Tarcher/Penguin.
[(11)] Jacobson, E. (2008) "Appreciative Moments: Stories and Practices for Living and Working Appreciatively." Bloomington, IN: Tenacity Press.
[(12)] Kelm, J. "Looking for Love? The Right Way to Find Mr. Right." "Savvy Miss". May, 2006.
[(13) [] ] "AI and Health: Questions and Thoughts to Stimulate Good Health." Appreciative Inquiry Commons.
[(14)] Kelm, J. "Six Steps to Finding Your Dream Job." "Savvy Miss", July 2006.
[(15)] Kelm, J. "Finding What's Right with Your Child." "The Appreciative Parenting Newsletter", Feb. 2006.

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