Life Appreciation 101–Never Too Late To Throw Kisses at Strangers

(photo by Randalyn Hill, Unsplash)

I have recently become aware of how I have been a bit of a Debbie Downer, all my many years, when it comes to Life Appreciation–even when my particular life has been sort of calamity-free ever since I made it out alive from my family of origin. It has been even better than calamity-free, really, once I started down my career paths. Once I started teaching curious, eager, gifted middle schoolers. Once I started dancing the Argentine tango. Once I became a therapist-consultant-blogging maniac. Once I had fifteen+ years of therapy. Calamity-free if we ignore the end of the short-ish marriage and the end of the years later partnership with the Nature-is-my-therapist-Neighbor-from-Hell. Those events were calamity-ridden at the time but turned out to be great material for psychotherapy, blogging, and my future memoir-turned-rom-com-chick-flick starring Meryl Streep or maybe Jenny Slate, for the more ethnic look. And the hair.

My resistance to Life Appreciation started early. In the womb. There was quite a bit of fear, rage, and shame there, as I recall. It wasn’t the safe, sweet, nourishing cocoon that we expect. I was happy to exit that womb but the aftermath was no picnic. Did I agree to this? This family? Planet earth and its people? Seriously? And, as you might imagine, I was kinda sensitive. Vulnerable. Emotional. Aware. Smart. Like all of you. So, I had to protect my soft side, my natural tendency to sing songs from Broadway musicals, my deep capacity to love, my odd inclination to throw kisses at strangers.

And, as many of you know, now, I am almost-famous. Well, OK, I have a small but dedicated bevy of international fans. I live in a progressive, cozy community in a safe home with amazing woodwork. You would think I would be thrilled with living. And, yes, I am certainly very grateful. That is true. But only recently have I made the connection to my ambivalence about life and my early need to shut-myself-down-down-down. Only recently, have I opened up to the possibility that I am a lover and not a fighter. A lover, not a fighter. The thought makes me a little faklempt, if you must know. In a good way.

But, why should you care, you might ask? How does my latest awakening affect you?

Well. Here’s the thing. You, too, may have had to protect your sensitivity, your vulnerability, and your smartness. You, too, may have wondered how you landed on planet earth to interact with all the muggles somewhat annoying, bizarre, mysterious humanoids. Perhaps, you, too, had some trouble appreciating life, especially if you have had assorted calamities along the way.

If that is the case, here is my recommendation: Grab your trusty journal and start a dialogue with the part of you who is hiding from life or who hates life or who thought they had to be a fighter but is really a lover. Ask that part to tell you what happened and why they are hiding, or lost, or angry, or ambivalent. Be gentle and patient and take your time. You may be surprised by what you discover. If this technique is new to you and difficult but intriguing, look for the book No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz. It will explain the whole introspective process in-depth. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

With yourself. With life.

And, if you welcome back that sensitive, vulnerable, aware, smart part of you? Well, you just might end up throwing kisses at strangers.


To my bloggEEs: Let us know if you try the technique or if you already use it and how it has worked for you. What other ways have you found to welcome your intelligence, sensitivities, and vulnerabilities? And if you know any successful screenplay writers, send them my way!

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

18 responses to “Life Appreciation 101–Never Too Late To Throw Kisses at Strangers”

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  1. A Love Letter to My Fear – A Journaling Technique for Anyone Experiencing Fear, Anxiety, or Distress, Which Might be, Well, All of Us?? – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] have to leave, of course, in case you need me for a while, but you might invite some playfulness, some gratitude, maybe even, heaven forbid, some joy. No need to feel guilty about it, either. There might be some […]

  2. Neeraj Avatar


    This blog triggers few reactions in my mind :

    you talked about ” no bad parts” book in this blog, I didn’t see you talking about IFS /”no bad parts’ book/ about multitudes of minds ( or I might have missed such posts) any of your posts.
    you use this construct/ metaphor..”rainforest mind” to describe inner complexity of intellectual giftedness experience…

    How does the concept of multitudes of minds relate to the rain-forest mind? Obviously the choice of metaphor of a rainforest…itself provides clues that you might have given some thought over this ( correlation between giftedness and multitudes of mind) . But such thoughts are not elaborated enough and the conclusion that is obtained from those thoughts…practical application of FUSION of these two concepts/ constructs…is not expressed and elaborated enough.

    For example if I ask a question, what is the implication that our mind has various sub-parts to our intellectual giftedness?

    so these are the initial thoughts on this.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thank you for the questions, Neeraj. I do mention parts work/IFS in other places. The flavor of my blog, though, is for shorter, simpler posts. So, it might be frustrating for some that I don’t go into more depth. My first book might answer some of your questions. Also Jessie Mannisto’s site covers giftedness topics and Dabrowski’s ideas, in particular, in more depth. You might find it more satisfying!

      1. Neeraj Avatar

        thanks for this “third factor” blog/reference…which for me first time helped pay attention to the importance of “third factor” to Dabrowski’s work…which as the blog claims probably is a better understanding of his work , rather than just focusing on overexcitabilities.

        This third factor is similar to what one can term/word is “entelechy” that is what I felt…that is this inner drive to reach to the potential.
        Thus as gifted literature suggests giftedness is not just about overexcitabilities but also about inner drive…in that sense this emphasis makes sense.

        (on a different note) Also another term/ word that is interesting to note here is “Eudaimonia” which can be aptly reinterpreted here as happiness resulting from harmony between inner parts/ inner daemons!!!

        One another note, where Jung and Dabrowski converge on a broader sense ( based on scanning 1-2 articles/blogs/ interviews on this subject) …is that : for the real transformational growth (transformation/ personality growth / individuation)….the real suffering ( i.e. facing the suffering and walking through, walking through the dark night of the soul) ..and not avoidant neurosis…is but necessary.

        1. pprober Avatar

          I know the term “entelechy” and may look to see what others are writing about it these days. I find the concept fascinating. “Eudaimonia” is new to me. Thanks, Neeraj!

  3. Maureen Helen Avatar
    Maureen Helen

    Dear Paula, for a number of reasons, this beautiful post has made me cry. I will wait until later to process what it is that has so deeply affected me, but I want to say ‘Thank you’.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Love to you, Maureen Helen. <3

  4. Kim Avatar

    In many ways, love can be a dirty word in scientific, academic and individualist circles. At the same time, I know I am a lover, and a fighter. Love and connection are the ground from which healing flows. So, my task at the moment to integrate – to live from the sweet fierce power of love, and use it as the fuel for thinking incisively and writing creatively.

    Even though reason and love are presented as polarities, they are more powerful when they are intertwined. Valerie Kuar is really speaking into this space.

    As always, thank you for your encouragement to live bigger and deeper.

    Love you,

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thank you for this, Kim. “…live from the sweet fierce power of love…”

  5. Nimue Avatar

    Thank you, this is really helpful of itself and also a powerful reminder of why sharing the challenges is so important. Struggles aren’t overcome by ignoring them, and when we share our difficulties, we have scope to learn from each other. I’ve currently got someone on my blog trying to make me feel bad about myself for talking about depression. So I really needed to read your post today.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, yes Nimue. So important to share, Keep writing!!

    2. Leah Avatar

      Hi Nimue, I’ve not commented here before. Despite writing my own blog, I’m shy about commenting publicly on others’ but I wanted to second Paula’s ‘Keep writing!’.

      Paula – thank you for all your writing. I love popping in here and always find so much comfort and wisdom in what you share. xx

      1. pprober Avatar

        Oh, Leah! Lovely to see you here. Please keep popping in! I always enjoy reading your posts, too. You keep writing, too! 🙂

        1. Leah Avatar

          Thank you Paula! I will keep popping in and I will keep writing 🙂

  6. Karolien van der Most Avatar
    Karolien van der Most

    I keep marveling at how there are actually people out there like me. You’ve just described my ever ongoing struggle between having to fight to take care of myself, but wanting to beam love and also having such a great appreciation for life on earth, but also feeling exhausted and defeated by it.
    This has led to feeling disconnected from the people around me. I didn’t want to burden them with this deep sorrow I couldn’t explain and they didn’t understand the intense joy and peace I feel when something is just exactly beautiful and perfect to me.
    Thank you Paula, for making me feel understood. I never thought anybody ever would.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Deep sorrow and intense joy and peace, Karolien. Yes! We are here with you.

  7. Hanna Avatar

    Thank you for this one Paula. I have found that my love for some of my friends can be so big especially in the beginning of friendships. I feel like it is sometimes much more than others feel. Also some family-togetherness and connection can spark this flame in me.

    I am now trying to use love as a source to make life decisions. But also.. I have never learned to choose. What do I choose from: climbing, running. How do I go for what I want instead of what I feel like I need (muscles, good & healthy body)? How to choose from the multiple careers I could now follow at the age of 26. How to start doing my hobbies again and not feeling stuck because not being as skilled in them as I used to when I practiced more? It is a real struggle, but sometimes love sparks through and I guess that will light the way. If only I could trust.. 😉

    1. pprober Avatar

      Choices can be hard when you have a rainforest mind, Hanna. And, yes, let love spark through!

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