3 Steps to Appreciative Living With Joy Engineer, Jackie Kelm – PS016

Episode Overview – 3 Steps to Appreciative Living With Joy Engineer, Jackie Kelm

Host, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Positivity Strategist and Jackie Kelm, The Joy Engineer of Appreciative Living engage in conversation and share stories about their passion for Appreciative Inquiry (AI), the strength-based, positive change methodology.  Jackie shares her 3 step Appreciative Living process and announces the launch of her home study course to bring greater joy into our lives whatever the situation, and move beyond our cultural negativity bias.

Mechanical Engineer to Joy Engineer

3 Steps to Appreciative Living with Jackie KelmJackie Kelm started her career as an engineer – a mechanical engineer at General Motors.  She still describes herself as an engineer, but her context and process has shifted.  She’s now The joy Engineer of Appreciative Living LLC.

In this episode, you’ll hear that Jackie’s first awareness of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was during her MBA studies at Case Western Reserve University when she did a class with David Cooperrider.  She was so amazed by his teaching that she was up all night learning more.  She knew this was life changing.

Once Jackie began to apply Appreciative Inquiry as a “change management consultant” and witnessing the extraordinary transformational results it produced, she became more of a “believer.”

Appreciative Living

Life has a way of showing up for us, and, at a significantly challenging time in her life, Jackie decided to apply AI to her own life to lift her from a history of depression.  Jackie came up with her own process of applying the classic 4-D cycle of Appreciative Inquiry to her own situation.  The result was personally transformational.  For the first time in her entire life she was happy.

As a result, Jackie wrote her first book, Appreciative Living, The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry in Personal Life.  I love this book.  If you want to find out about the Principles of Appreciative Inquiry, this is the book!

Her next book, The Joy of Appreciative Living, is a highly practical book.  It’s a 28 day guide to joy.

Guide to Joy

Listen in to find out what Jackie discovered when when she applied her own AIA process to herself. What Jackie experienced is that applying Appreciative Inquiry in organizations, as a consultant, or teaching it, does not automatically mean you live it, nor that it’s integrated into your own being.  Jackie suggests there might be some things that map across, but without the personal work, it doesn't mean you are truly living the principles and values of AI.

Jackie’s 3 Step AIA Process

  1. Appreciating what is and finding the good in a situation
  2. Imagining the ideal and thinking about what you really want
  3. Acting in alignment

Positive Principle

The “positive principle” in Appreciative Inquiry embraces positivity.  In the context of Appreciative Living, it’s having a way to automatically see that the good things exist along with the bad.  It is really about valuing a more complete view of reality –  the whole picture.  When we are conscious of the wholeness of life, we’re able to expand how we embrace all the goodness that exists in the world, helping us move beyond our “programmed” cultural negativity bias.

The more you open up the positive and see the good, the more you find the courage and the strength to face and deal with the negative. You’re on the path to appreciate the totality of what it is; and you become so much more aware that our interpretation of what’s going on is totally subjective, just as we become aware that each of us is unique.

Losing All Interest in Life

Can you imagine losing interest in everything, feeling totally flat, not feeling any pleasure or joy; not feeling any emotion even when your children hug you? And, this is a different condition from depression, as nothing touches you.  Jackie, the Joy engineer went through almost two years of this condition, called anhedonia.  She explains her experience of anhedonia during the episode – what she learnt and what she did to cure herself.


Jackie’s research has revealed that brain and gut health are related.  The length of time taking certain medications will impact the health of the gut which has the potential to bring on a condition such as anhedonia. The condition can be hardwired into the brain causing sufferers to lose touch with their emotions.

Learning these facts ignited Jackie to create exercises to stimulate the part of the brain affected by anhedonia.  After 4 weeks, she noticed changes for the good,  and after 6 weeks she began to experience positive emotions again.  However, feeling positive emotions did not make her automatically feel a happy person.

Next, was to apply her Appreciative Living (AIA) exercises.  She found success and she was able to build her happiness right back up again.  Jackie shares her joy at telling her personal story that her AIA  cycle  has worked for her twice now.

Growth Mindset

Considering these setbacks in her life, I inquired into what Jackie truly values about herself, having overcome such suffering.  She reflected that her strength and what she values about herself is that she has a “growth mindset” – a term that resonated from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset (link below.)  Jackie has a strong belief, and now evidence, that she can figure it out.  She also reflected that she is extremely persevering.  She has overcome challenges, and continuous learning gets her there.

Appreciative Living in Practice

Listen in to learn more about the home-study course that Jackie offers.  It’s a self-paced course of six weeks.  Jackie is extremely excited to offer this course,  as it contains the best of all that she’s done to date.  There are daily exercises to help you overcome any negativity; it will help you see the good in life and create an ideal vision; it will guide you through inspired action planning that is essential to make it happen.

In a nutshell, it’s a progam:

  • for leading a successful life in alignment with your own motivations and aspirations,
  • with a toolbox for life-long learning,
  • offering daily, weekly practices so that you stay on top of all that happens.

As the the Joy Engineer, Jackie’s greatest joy comes from watching others apply the ideas and practices of Appreciative living to make positive changes in their lives.

Click on the button to visit the home study course page.

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Books Mentioned In This Episode:

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  • Lucy

    Hi Jackie. I really enjoyed this podcast! I plan to start using your AIA principles right away as I will be facing a few issues surrounding the holidays which will surely intensify my stress, anxiety and depression. I will also be downloading your guide today and looking into your at home program program. You are truely an inspiration and give me hope to overcome my lifelong implanted negativity and replace it with with a new and stronger better self. I've been reading your books for a long time now. Thank you for all that you do. Sending you peace, love and positivity. xo

    • Hi Lucy, thank you so much for taking time to share your positive response to Jackie's episode. I will be passing it onto her. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jackie is truly an inspiration. I am honored to have her in my trusted circle. Her contributions in this field are life-changing.

      It would be wonderful if you would care to drop by in a few weeks to let us know how you are doing with the home study course. I wish you continued growth, joy, love and peace.

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