The Appreciation Challenge

by Vlad Dolezal on March 18, 2013

(If you’re reading this via e-mail and can’t see the video above, click through to the blog.)

“They live in paradise, and yet they will never know it.”

– A buddhist monk upon getting off the airplane as he arrived in the US

We humans are brilliant at adapting to circumstances.

On the one hand, this is a great mechanism. It means we can keep going and struggling even when truly horrible things happen to us, instead of plunging into existential despair. Plus it’s quite handy in the world we live, since without these adaptation mechanisms, we’d spend our days staring at the world around us, gobsmacked.

On the other hand, it’s a bit of a shame how quickly we take things for granted. We lose our appreciation for all the wonderful things around us.

That’s why I’ve got a challenge for you, for this upcoming weekend.

The appreciation challenge

My challenge to you is simple – this upcoming weekend, take some time to appreciate everything around you.

From the moment you get up in the morning, you are bombarded with things that have the potential to leave you in awe, if only you take the time to appreciate them.

From seeing your alarm clock – and marveling at the idea of having standardized time all around the globe, with seven billion people.

To going to wash your face. And appreciating just how much effort goes into getting such a simple thing as potable water into your home. The effort that went into building the pipes, and filtering the water, and checking its quality, and providing the energy to pump it all the way into your home.

Feel how connected you are to the rest of humanity like this.

Take the time to appreciate all the people around you – whether it’s your family, friends, or just random strangers you meet. Take the time to appreciate all the little things they do to make your life easier and more fulfilling.

As you walk around, take the time to appreciate the sights. How the sunshine glints off buildings (or the pretty shapes of the clouds). Trees and bushes you come across. The man-made structures. The people you see. Feel what each of those sights elicits in you, and take the time to appreciate it.

Appreciate the sounds and the smells. Appreciate the feel of light wind on your skin. Close your eyes and appreciate your sense of balance.


In order to get the most out of this challenge, I suggest you make yourself some kind of reminder, so that you’ll take the time to appreciate everything around you, several times per day. Whenever your little reminder nudges you.

This can be a slip of paper that you put in a place that you will see several times per day. Or you can set yourself a reminder on your phone. Or you can write “Appreciate.” on your hand. (That’s what I will do.)

And when the weekend is over, and you have completed this challenge, come back here, and share your experience with others. What was one particular moment of appreciation that truly stuck with you?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Vlad Dolezal March 24, 2013 at 08:40

Alright, I’ll get us started! Yesterday (Saturday), I did the appreciation challenge. (I’m doing it today too, but here’s my report for yesterday).

It all started in the morning. I’m normally quick to get up and start doing stuff. But yesterday, I took about 2 or 3 minutes to lie around lazily, stretch a bit, and fully appreciate the feeling of lying in bed and not having to get up.

During the day, there were a few cool points where I took the time to just appreciate the moment. At one point, I noticed the sun shining through my window, so I went and stood in the rays and just appreciated the warm feeling for a few minutes.

At another point, I was walking with my bike through a spot where I’ve biked a dozen times before. But remembering to appreciate, I was more attentive to my surroundings, and noticed a pretty cool weather-vane-like sculpture thingy, that I took a few moments to appreciate. I’d never even noticed it before, even though I’d biked right past it.

I also appreciated good things and people in my life in general. But I’ve done similar things before in the past with my gratitude experiments, so that wasn’t as new and interesting to me as taking these little moments to just be and appreciate the moment. I’d like to do more of those in the future 🙂


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