Sunflowers and Appreciative Inquiry – Heliotropic Effect

heliotropic effect - sunflowers

Sunflowers are happy-making flowers! If you've ever gazed across a field of sunflowers, as I have had the good fortune to do in the hills of Tuscany, Italy, it makes you smile so broadly that you feel like jumping for joy.  Their big, bright yellow heads all turn to face the same direction forming a bright yellow blanket of sunny faces. This ability of plants to turn towards the sun is a metaphor for people and their cultures turning to face what enlivens and energizes them.

Heliotropic Effect

That's what's so special about sunflowers,  They actually turn their heads to face the sun.  They follow the sun from dawn to dusk.  The sunflower is a heliotropic plant.  Helios is the ancient Greek for sun.  Sunflowers turn to the light and the warmth for growth.

Symbol for Appreciative Inquiry

The practice of Appreciative Inquiry has a lot in common with sunflowers.  In fact, for me the sunflower is the symbol of Appreciative Inquiry.  Just as sunflowers turn to the sun for light and energy, so too, do we humans grow and light up with great energy in a field of abundant, sunny appreciation and positivity. We literally light up when basked with appreciation.

I am reminded of the quote by American psychologist, William James:


heliotropic effect - william james


Heliotropic Effect

You could say when you live your life with Appreciative Inquiry, you are cultivating a heliotropic mind.