01 July 2016


 Stop worrying about approval and appreciation.
Enjoy the beauty and effect of contributing to the universe.
Debasish Mridha

Who doesn't enjoy being praised? Praise is wonderful. It feels great to be admired, doesn't it? Being constantly criticised can quickly give you a feeling of injustice and resentment, especially when criticism is hardly constructive. Everyone knows that if you want to get positive results from people, positive motivation is the way. Is it, though?


It is believed that by telling others how great they have done, we raise their self-esteem and confidence, and it is certainly correct. For instance, a kid that has been consistently admired by their parents will grow up more socially adapted and potentially successful - tons of scientific studies claim. However, in a lot of cases, extensive praise can actually undermine motivation.

In some cultures, praise is not very common. Chinese, for example, beware of praise because they believe too much of it can inflate the ego (wonder why they all are successful). Many years ago things where similar in Western culture, but not today, today praise is everywhere.

We are convinced that praise is going to make us more confident, more motivated and generally better. "Good job!" - has become a natural form of encouragement. In fact, it has become so natural, that we now praise and get praised for ordinary things, things that we should do without any reward whatsoever.

Imagine, you helped an elderly person carry their shopping bags, or cross the road. You didn't owe them this, but you did it because according to all moral standards those who are weaker deserve help. Should you be praised for this? Well... That's pretty cool, what you did. But by praising people for something they should be doing, we practically sabotage normal behaviour. 

So instead of saying something like "Well done, you helped that granny cross the road", go for something along the lines of "How great that more and more people are doing good things for others, because it's how it should be. I wish others followed your example". Which is an acknowledgment of a positive step, still emphasizing its normality.

The dangers of excessive praise 

Having those around you constantly make a big deal out of everything you do, will at some point lead you to dissatisfaction, and eventually you might start feeling stuck. Because praise is so addictive, that doing things "for free" will start making you feel unhappy.

Too much praise only tickles your vanity and has you believe that you have actually achieved something grand. And, no doubt, you have - you've probably already done a lot of great things in life. But you don't want to stop right there, do you?

Excessive praise, in the long run, endangers your motivation. Will you aspire to always do better, if you know that you always do great anyway?

And while we are at it, nothing in facts motivates as much as rejection. We all know Jessica Pearson off Suits series, who is one hell of a woman, don't we? But not all of you might remember an episode that I thought was tremendously motivational and inspirational, when I had first watched it.

In the video above, starting 1:45 Jessica says: "When I saw that asterisk next to my name, it made me sick to my stomach. Because in one second, I understood how you will always see me. That card was a "thank you", because if I hadn't have felt sick, then I might have not worked as hard as I did to get where I am today".

If you are a competitive and ambitious person, you probably aspire to be better than others, to achieve something worth proudly telling your grandchildren about. And if you are a smart person, you know that no matter how much you have actually accomplished, it will never be enough. 

Finding balance

With positive motivation, as with everything, the dose makes the poison. While it is imperative to acknowledge the excellence of what we are doing, and the direction we are heading in is the right one, it is also necessary not to overdo it.

There is a difference between appreciation and uncontrolled praise. The right amount of praise is going to provide a healthy motivation, whereas excessive flow of it provokes narcissism and, ultimately, frustration.

It doesn't mean you must keep yourself forever undervalued in order to do great. However, when you do get praised, and you feel that you could have done better, don't stop right there, don't think "I'm cool, and I know it". Keep going. Not for the approval, but for your personal success. There are no limits to your potential.

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