Appreciating Appreciation

Appreciation. It’s an interesting word. Likely you first heard it from a parent when you were a child. Perhaps mom or dad saying something like, “show some appreciation for … ” fill in the blank.

While water, food and oxygen are necessary for survival, appreciation might belong in the same category. If you don’t feel appreciated, ultimate outcomes can be downright scary, including depression, but let’s not go there. Let’s keep things positive and look at some of the ways you can better appreciate every moment and the people you come in contact with each day.

Why is appreciation significant?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how you can better appreciate each day, it’s important to understand why appreciation is so essential. Of course, the obvious is how being appreciated makes you feel.

Can you remember the last time you truly felt appreciated? Did you get those little butterflies in your stomach because it felt so good to be recognized for something positive? Did your heart smile? Did a little stroke pump you up? There are several reasons why we crave appreciation, especially from specific people (e.g., family, friends, bosses, peers) in our lives, including:

  • It helps to improve a person’s self-esteem.
  • It helps to heal hurting relationships and make good relationships even better.
  • It offers recognition to a person you love … or for you if imparted from someone else.
  • It increases a person’s happiness when they are grateful for the things they have been blessed with and the moments they enjoy on the daily.
  • It improves productivity when a boss shows appreciation for their employees.  Indeed, a person who feels appreciated will almost always do more than what is expected.
  • It makes you more creative as you shine a positive light on moments and things around you.
  • It creates beautiful moments with your loved ones, so you can have wonderful memories.
  • It offers a more positive mindset when you appreciate people, things and moments.

In summary, feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people.

Doling out a small amount of appreciation to the person who made your fancy coffee or who offered you a compliment or for help received from a team member can trickle down to all those around them. Showing appreciation can make someone’s day and change a bad day into a better one because thoughtfulness will always be remembered. Even the smallest gestures of appreciation can impact everyone with whom the recipient comes in contact the rest of the day. Your willingness to put your gratitude into words is all that is necessary … and your effort will make you feel better, too.

Why we value appreciation

I’m not a psychologist, so I’m winging it here, but for me, it comes back to that pleasing feeling you get when you’re appreciated. Parents know this all too well, especially if they’ve raised teenagers. My observations are that it can be like pulling teeth to get a teenager to show appreciation for their parents’ efforts. Ditto with the boss from hell, who plainly doesn’t get Managing For Success 101.

On the flip side of those two examples, children often want to feel appreciated by their parents, especially as they get older. In the boss scenario, the self-centered dipstick in the corner office will find out soon enough that if he doesn’t show appreciation to those who deserve it, they’ll learn to stop doing things he appreciates. And move on if they’re smart.

We value appreciation for how it makes us feel, but for other reasons, too.

When we are appreciated, we feel like we are seen. Think about the wife who works hard at home raising the children, cooking meals, and taking care of the house. I apologize if it seems that I’m in a time-warp with this example; however, even outside of the 1950s, this is still common for many families. And the genders in the example can certainly be switched. My point is that when the husband shows appreciation for all momma does, it makes her feel seen.

Not only can this make a marriage stronger and both spouses happier, it also rings true in other relationships. Think about the too-often-forgotten importance of appreciating your grandparents … before it’s too late to do so. Truly seeing someone — not just with your eyeballs — is incredibly important. Relationships that work are perhaps the best illustrations of the fact that the most profound craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.

Appreciation — for the things we have and the experiences we enjoy — is also valued because it can give us a sense of meaning in our lives. When someone else appreciates us, it can unquestionably boost our sense of purpose.

According to PyschologyToday.com, we also feel connected when we feel appreciated. This is a bit easier to grasp when we realize how we feel when we don’t feel appreciated. In any relationship, if you don’t feel seen, heard or appreciated, you will likely feel a disconnect with that person.

Appreciating moments each day

Those who strive to be positive and happy persons generally appreciate moments throughout every day. Instead of trying to appreciate every minute — very tough since there are 1,440 of them and you’re probably asleep for about 360 to 480 of those — we should appreciate actual moments.

And rest assured that there are moments every single day you want to appreciate. You just have to look for them. If you do and are armed with a new level of appreciation, you will find more happiness every day. Let’s look at a few of the types of moments you should make sure to appreciate every single day.

Moments of laughter

We have all heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine,” and these moments should always be appreciated. I am not referring to those sarcastic moments of laughter or those that take you just beyond rolling your eyes due to a silly meme.

Instead, the moments of laughter to appreciate each day are the real moments. A child laughing should be appreciated, and so should your own chuckling. Anytime you get a good laugh in, appreciate it because some scientific evidence shows it can improve your mood.

Moments of celebration

You want to stop and appreciate anytime you or someone else has something to celebrate. Appreciate the big and the small moments of celebration.

Moments of silence

We live in a super-loud world. Even at a church service where you’d expect silence for prayer and reflection, finding a moment of actual silence can be challenging. When these moments come along, appreciate them, as they may be fleeting.

Moments of humility

Moments of humility might not come along every day — and they may be difficult to appreciate — but you should strive to appreciate them. Often, when we are humbled, it can hit us square in the pride bone, but it’s an important state.

Most human growth comes out of struggle and humility. When you are humbled, for any reason, it can profoundly change you. Stop and appreciate these moments because they are helping you grow.

Connection moments

Though we might have a desire to connect with others every day, it’s sometimes not easy to do. These moments don’t come around nearly as often as we would like. Moreover, with social media and smartphones making communication instant, it has become harder to truly connect.

Appreciate and cherish those moments when you actually connect with someone. Enjoy the moment and appreciate it whether it’s a warm embrace or sharing a story or memory. Consider holding back what you might reflexively share through instant messaging and texting for an in-person meeting or even a phone call.

Joyful moments

While moments of laughter should be appreciated, you will feel the intense power when it’s a joyful moment. This type of moment is one you don’t want to miss. Whether it’s some type of spiritual connection, a particular kind of music, the birth of a child or grandchild, a wedding day or anything else, take the time to appreciate the joyful moments.

Moments of pride

While pride can be seen as a negative thing, there is also a very positive type of pride. Usually, that negative pride is the one that leads to those moments of humility that we must appreciate as we painfully grow.

However, positive pride might come due to an accomplishment. Maybe your child is having a milestone moment, and you feel proud of them. Children grow up fast, so appreciate every moment of pride.

Inner-happiness

These are just a few of the many types of moments we should appreciate every single day. You can pull yourself out of a funk or just add happiness on top of happiness when you truly appreciate the moments you are given each day.

In a related article published by HuffPost.com, I found a powerful statement: “One of the ultimate objectives of attaining inner peace is learning to live happily in the present moment. Keep in mind that life is a continuous succession of present moments.”

This statement rings true in all of our lives. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, which church you attend, where you go to school, or who you are — each day is filled with moments. It’s your job to appreciate those moments and grow in happiness as you do.

Appreciation in the workplace

After 40-plus years in the trenches, I have zero doubts that the best CEOs are the ones who strategically yet generously dole out sincere appreciation to their teams. Such executives know that recognition is the greatest retention tool in the world. Simply put, it creates a terrific workplace culture and makes employees feel valued, leading to stronger total team experience, innovation and even revenue stream. The bosses who ignore this premise are missing a huge opportunity to improve their team’s mindsets, moods, engagement, innovation, trust, effectiveness and tenure.

Here’s an uh-duh thought: You will not inspire greatness in others if you don’t inspire someone else, and that starts with giving recognition for a job well done. Appreciate your team members and there will be a handful of folks who will run through walls for you. Along with modeling your management behavior, I firmly believe that’s how you unlock people’s potential and push someone to greatness.

Words of wisdom to remember each day

There are oodles of smart folks far more intelligent than I who have left us with words of wisdom to live by associated with appreciation. A few of my favorites:

“I never lose. I either win or learn.” — Nelson Mandela

If you don’t see failure or losing as a part of your daily life, you will either succeed (win) or learn and grow. You will learn and grow as you appreciate moments of humility instead of feeling defeated like you have lost.

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing … that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So, in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” — Fred Rogers

While this quote isn’t as much about appreciating the moment and more about appreciating others, there’s true wisdom found in these words. Loving and appreciating your neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers can profoundly impact you and them.

“Relationships are based on four principles: Respect, Understanding, Acceptance and Appreciation.” — Mahatma Gandhi

With so much good surrounding us and so much love in our lives, sometimes we just have to open our eyes, minds and hearts to what’s around us. Appreciate it and those who come in and out of your life.

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” — A. A. Milne

This is one of my favorites from Winnie-the-Pooh-lospher. Appreciation begets sunshine. Be present in the moment for what it is, instead of worrying about what that moment lacks. Feel the warmth of the sun on the back of your neck. Spread the sunshine.

I’ll close with another of my favored rules to live by, credited to Steven Furtick Jr., an American Baptist evangelical Christian pastor, author, and award-winning songwriter. “Your perspective will become your prison or your passport.” This basically means how you look at things will confine you or place boundaries on you, or it will be freeing.

There are many people, things, blessings and moments we should appreciate every single day. Look for and appreciate the good that is around you. It’s there. And don’t forget to create some of it for others by extending the powerful hand of appreciation.