The Profound Effect of Appreciation and Recognition
A single laudatory remark can produce a profound effect on one's spirit and bring about a spiritual revolution that could impel one to devote an entire lifetime to intense effort and endeavour for achievement and success. There are many who consider their success and achievement as owing to the appreciation shown by their elders and their generous compliments. Were it not for their appreciation, they could not have climbed the ladder of success.
Amongst progressive nations of the world a special importance is given to recognition of outstanding individuals, and this is done in various ways. In such environs the light of genius and talent is never extinguished and suitable conditions are maintained for the development of talent and the emergence of dormant capacities, because learning and effort receive the recognition they deserve.
But, regrettably, many of our press media, whose duty is to educate and guide the people and whose goal should be to enlighten minds and raise the general level of the people's knowledge and their awareness of real problems of life, mostly promote matters which lead to the depression of the general mental level. They divert the people's attention towards insignificant things and spread moral mediocrity and decadence, whereas there is no trace in them of any effort to promote real values and to encourage men of science and merit. A contemporary Iranian writer criticises this significant failing of our society in these words:
Motivation-real, not one marred by publicity-is one of the biggest of our psychological and social needs. Nowadays our businessmen and marketing experts have created diverse and perplexing forms of false kinds of motivation. If some gentleman or lady taking part in a quiz competition, for instance, is able to name the fifth mistress of Louis XVI, they send him or her by air on a month's trip to Europe. Or if one of the contestants in a certain competition is able to describe better than others the advantages of using a certain head shampoo, he receives a big bundle of cosmetics as a gift. But we have not yet instituted an award to show recognition to our best creative minds of the year.
During youth, which is the most important phase of life in respect of the foundations of one's moral character, one is capable of showing appreciation and admiration for outstanding work or some remarkable service rendered by someone. But the more one advances in life, the lesser does anything attract one's attention and admiration. That is why it is essential to reinforce the spirit of appreciation and gratitude in persons in their formative years and to awaken their feelings of admiration for outstanding personalities.
This programme is quite effective in maintaining psychological balance and equilibrium in the youth because of their natural propensity for adopting some kind of model. Of necessity, the young person selects certain personalities as his models, and if during that stage his attention is not turned towards men of higher character, and should he fail to develop an admiration for their accomplishments and deeds, he may choose perverse characters as his models and try to emulate them. It is obvious what bad and undesirable effects that would have on the life of the youth. Those who have a refined temperament, a kind heart, and an open mind commend and applaud every good deed and positive action that they come across. The sublime perspicacity and high-mindedness of great men has an extraordinary radiance that invigorates others and gives them power and warmth. Contact with higher morals raises one's level of thinking and relieves one of egoism, which is the greatest obstacle in the way of moral improvement and development. Those who have come under the influence of the spirit of great men and have been nourished by their thoughts, will be advantageously equipped to ascend to the peaks of human sublimity. But there are some others who staunchly grudge mentioning even the merits of their closest friends. They are never willing to say a word concerning their worthy and meritorious qualities or to pay a compliment appreciating their valuable services and accomplishments. Most of the time they adopt an indifferent attitude.
There are some base characters that lack the higher human virtues and are capable of acquiring every undesirable quality. They deprecate and view with contempt everything that is praiseworthy and admirable, and express their displeasure and disapproval of everything. The achievements and successes of others are painful and distressing to them. Not only they cannot bear hearing any word of praise concerning their successful colleagues, but are delighted by their problems and hardships, which are the biggest means of their satisfaction.
When they feel that their colleagues are getting ahead of them, the flames of anger leap up in the furnace of their hearts. Their narrow-mindedness and envy may even lead them to resort to unseemly and hostile conduct against their fellows and induce them to lie in wait for an opportunity to deliver an unmanly blow to their rivals.
This kind of narrow-mindedness and decadence, which is untouched by wholesome morals, is well reflected in the following couplet:
Now that Providence has looked with favour upon my rival and granted him gifts,
Haven't I the right to view him with indignation and regard him with disdain?
The wise take lesson from the conduct of the foolish and refrain from their mistakes. The foolish, however, are not willing to follow the conduct of the wise and draw lesson from their morals and human merits.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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