The Appreciation Game
Build a better mousetrap – or failing that, buy one. This was my parents’ problem many years ago. A very annoying, irritating problem.
You see, they had a successful supply enterprise and as part of this business they kept a dry goods warehouse – a warehouse that was fast becoming “Costco for Mice”.
They tried everything to get rid of the mice and nothing worked very well. And with mice, unless you are 100% successful you still have 100% of the problem.
Then an employee had an idea, “Why don’t you get a cat?”
Brilliant! This is the perfect plan, they told me on the phone, perfect! The mice will get eaten, the ones that don’t get eaten will run in fear from the cat, and the cat will be full on its bounty. This plan pays for itself! Excitement and optimism abounded.
I had my doubts. I really didn’t see how one cat could take care of the whole problem but my parents were adamant. This, they said, was a good reason to get a cat, a “working cat”. They had nothing against cats, but as self-proclaimed “dog lovers” they never understood why people had them as pets. All they do is meow and catch mice. Cat people, to my mom and dad, were unfathomable.
Off they went to the SPCA, determined and purposeful, to pick out a kitten.
And so it started. The phone calls. Many phone calls. On a daily basis:
“She’s so little and hyper, it’s so funny!”
“She’s always purring, she climbs up your arm and purrs in your ear… Molly is always purring!”
“Guess what, Molly loves string, she goes nuts for it!”
This is really not news.
And my favourite:
“Do you know what Molly can do? She knows how to use the litter box! We didn’t even teach her – she just goes! All. By. Herself!”
They said those exact words. I swear.
After a week (or less) as a “working cat” my parents took Molly home from the warehouse “for a few hours” to “show her what the house looks like” (they really said that).
I called a few days later, “Are you taking her back to the warehouse…” only to hear, “Oh, well… sure, maybe in a few days…”
You can guess what happened. The new duties of the “working cat” were sleeping, climbing furniture, and annoying her new big sister (the dog).
And my parents… still had a mouse problem. But now, now they were cat people with a mouse problem (it’s a subtle difference).
Admittedly I found all those silly phone calls kind of exasperating back then. Today they’re one of my fondest memories. It’s like my parents were anthropologists discovering an exciting and brand new species… house cat.
This lack of expectations and knowledge about what a cat was like opened up a door for something special: pure appreciation.
And what is appreciation? It’s recognizing the worth of something. But if you think of it as the opposite of depreciation, it is: raising the value of something altogether. Think about that for a second – when you appreciate something, a person in your life, a situation, whatever, you raise its worth and value to you.
You literally change and lift the energy – in you and it (or them).
Appreciate. Give thanks. Be grateful. Nothing new, right? We all know how important it is, but sometimes it’s hard. When you know you’re supposed to appreciate but just can’t – it feels like a chore.
So let’s try an Appreciation Game. A “Be Like My Parents” Game.
No, no need to become fascinated with cats and their litter boxes.
- Substitute cat with an object of your choosing: the fridge, hot showers, your car, a book, whatever.
- Imagine you’re:
- An outer space alien
- A time traveler from 1709
- A person from the 3rd world
- Anyone that would not have regular access to this object
Do you see something you took for granted? Do you recognize a new value in it?
And when you’re really feeling brave, try this exercise with a person close to you. You may love and appreciate them already but we are energy beings in constant flux – what was true yesterday is not so today. Do you know that you have as much knowledge of their inner workings, their deep heart’s desires, their thoughts as my parents did about cats?
It’s true. It’s what makes that person sitting next to you so wonderful. Play the appreciation game and experience things anew.
PS. The cat in the picture is indeed the famous string chasing, litter box using Molly. She now lives with me but my mom will regularly request chats with her on speaker phone.