Saturday, September 8, 2007
Fault-Finders and Appreciators
by Troy Chapman
There are two kinds of seeing in the world, two modes of looking at everything. The first is fault-finding mode. When we’re in this mode, all we look for are the flaws, sins and imperfections of people, situations and the world. Our eyes are tuned to the “what’s-wrong frequency.” The second is appreciation mode. In this mode we see flaws and imperfections but we’re not obsessed with them; we’re looking for something to appreciate and keeping our eyes tuned to the “what’s-good frequency.”
I’ve had friends of both persuasions and I can tell you the appreciators are a lot easier to be around than the fault-finders. Fault-finders are generally not too happy — self-satisfied, often, but seldom truly happy. And joy doesn’t exactly follow them around either.
Appreciators, on the other hand, are generally happy — they feed on appreciation, after all — and joy follows them around like the scent of lilacs.
We’ve all met both kind of seers in the world. We deal with them every day in countless different roles. Think about your experience with these two kinds of people for a minute and ask yourself this question: what kind of friend do you want to be to yourself?
We know that fault-finding is toxic to the people who do it and those to whom it’s done. We know, just as well, that appreciation is nourishing to both the people who practice it and the people it’s directed at. So if we practice either one of these within ourselves, we get a double dose of the fruit. If we choose fault-finding, we make ourselves sick by being a fault-finder and being a victim of a fault-finder.
If we choose appreciation, we heal ourselves by its practice and by virtue of being appreciated. To appreciate is simply to be aware of, to value and be thankful for. Not that difficult, really. Practicing it, however, is a choice and habit. Make the choice and follow it through and the habit will follow.
Here’s what I’ve found as I’ve tried to practice this: If I’m in a funk, depressed, angry, wallowing, it’s a red flag telling me I’ve shifted to fault-finding mode. These are always connected just as appreciation and contentment are connected. Indeed, appreciation is key to contentment, to well-being.
Deciding how we want to look at ourselves — as appreciators or fault-finders — is the same as deciding to be well or ill. We need to be a friend to ourselves, and a good friend, not one who’s constantly pointing out flaws we already know about. It’s something I’ve been striving to accomplish for years and still struggle with daily. I guess I’m making progress though, because now, instead of pointing out to myself daily that I still haven’t mastered it, I get up most days with an appreciation for my effort and tenacity, if nothing else. I’m still here and so are you. That’s worth appreciating.
Sketch by Troy Chapman