Every one of us knows someone who could use a little extra love and appreciation right now. For that matter, there isn’t a person reading (or writing) this who probably wouldn’t mind a little extra love and appreciation as well. We are hard-wired for connection, and while the nature of that connection shifts throughout the life cycle it is not something we ever outgrow. To paraphrase the Mother Teresa quote above, we have a hunger for love and appreciation that is as strong, if not stronger, than our hunger for food. Just this morning an acquaintance of mine was sharing how whenever he posts something on Facebook he loves checking back throughout the day to see how many “likes” he gets for his post. He even confessed that he sometimes feels a bit embarrassed at how much the “likes” mean to him. When I shared with him my thoughts for this week’s column, he agreed with my thesis, saying appreciation was certainly very important for his well being and that the quote from Mother Teresa certainly rang true for him.
In preparation for this column, I have been doing a little experiment over the last few days that has demonstrated for me both the power and the simplicity of offering love and appreciation to others. I have been making an intentional effort to share words of kindness and appreciation with everyone I encounter—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, clerks, baristas, and customer service representatives. What has this cost me? Nothing. What have the effects of this been? Amazing.
Each of us has the power to make someone’s day, by simply saying something as simple as, “I really appreciate all the little things you do. I apologize that sometimes take those things for granted, forgetting to let you know how grateful I am for what you do.”
The dictionary points out that appreciate has four separate, but related definitions, which all apply to what happens when we show someone how much we appreciate them.
- To be grateful or thankful for: they appreciated their thoughtfulness.
- To value or regard highly: to appreciate a work of art.
- To be fully conscious of; be aware of: to appreciate the hard work involved.
- To raise in value: the property’s value is appreciating.
As you have been reading this column, several people may have come to mind, people to whom you would like to offer more of your love and appreciation. If not, please stop now and create a list in your mind.
I would like to invite us all to add one other group of people to our lists. November 11 is Veterans Day and so it is a good time to stop and show our appreciation to any of the twenty-million veterans in our county that we know personally. When we do this, we will help them see how thankful we are for their service and sacrifice, and that we do not take what they have done for granted.
I invite you also to try your own personal experiment of offering thoughtful appreciation to the people you encounter throughout your day. See for yourself, what a difference it makes, both in their lives, and in yours.