Elevated Appreciation

 

We all offer and receive good gifts in life.  Examine your past week and write down at least 10 things others have done to encourage, appreciate or support you.  As you consider things to record, remember those 5 love languages that people use to communicate care: compliments or words of affirmation, gifts or presents, acts of service, making time for someone, or physical expressions of love.  Our first step to the next level of appreciation is to choose to see and reflect on how others care and appreciate us.

 

 

Step 1: Choose to See Kindness in Your Life.

 

Here is my list when I wrote this article…

  1. My husband blocked his schedule in the morning so he could go with me to my oncology appointment this week.
  2. My parents watched our children for two nights so my husband and I could have some time away, just the two of us.
  3. My parents listened to a dilemma I was having and offered some requested advice and wisdom.
  4. My church community group prayed for me, my family, and my health.
  5. My kids and I walked the dog and talked together several days after school.
  6. My son told me he missed me when I was away.
  7. My daughter passed out Halloween candy to our neighbors because I was too tired to do so.
  8. A friend texted me this week and asked if we could have lunch together soon to catch up on life.  
  9. A work mentor paid me a genuine compliment on my coaching ability.
  10. My husband let me take my time to browse in a store that I love.

 

Now it’s your turn.  Record your thoughts below.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

How did the above exercise make you feel?

_______________________________________________

 

 

Step 2: Choose to Thank Others.

 

The next step on our state of elevated awareness of kindness is to choose to thank others for their acts of kindness.  Remember, this again is a choice.  Have you ever felt moved by a genuine expression of care from someone else, and then you forgot to thank them?  I have.  It’s not that I’m so worried that the person won’t forgive me or expected something for their kindness, but I missed an opportunity to express gratitude.    

 

Examine the list from your week.  Review how you thanked others for their kindnesses. Remember, you don’t have to thank everyone for everything that they do.  However, honestly assess items and people who you may overlook at times and whether you would like to extend a thank you now.

 

Do you want to thank some people this week?   

 

Who would you like to thank?

 

 

Step 3: Choose How You Express Thanks.  

 

Exceptionally good gratitude is other-focusedauthentic, and context-sensitive.1, 2 To the first point, focus on the giver, not the gift.  It’s nice to receive any form of thanks, but people tend to appreciate it when it is more personal.  For example, it would be nice to say the following: “I absolutely love the present you sent me.”  A more intimate thanks is, “You picked out a very thoughtful gift for me.  Thanks for your kindness and love.”  The first statement centers on the present, but the second statement focuses on the kindness of the giver.  

 

In thinking about the above example from my list about my husband, I could simply say, “Thank you for coming to my appointment.” A more meaningful expression might be, “Thank you for knowing that I wanted you there with me at that appointment. Thank you for valuing me enough to block your work schedule in advance and for being present with me to ask the doctor questions.  I also noticed that you weren’t in a rush afterwards and asked me how I was doing and processing the information.  I am thankful you loved me well in this way and gave me space to sort out how I was feeling before you drove away.  I am grateful for a husband as supportive as you!”

 

The next point is authenticity.  Don’t overdo the thank you.  Make sure it comes from a place of truth.  If you receive a gift, and it’s not exactly something that knocked your socks off, resist the urge to lie.  People tend to sense inauthenticity. Honor the gift and the effort someone made.  I remember one time when my husband and I were gifted with a bread maker that we tried to use several times without much success.  I’m sure it was user-error.  The gift was from someone we both love dearly.  My husband wrote a note that expressed that we had made the most delicious muffins ever using the bread maker, but it was not true, and it didn’t feel right. I think the person who received the note knew we had never made those muffins.  We’ve learned a lot since then and realize she probably gave us that gift to cook together or offer homemade treats to each other.  We could have just said thank you for thinking of us and giving us a gift in the spirit of spending time together as a newly married couple. We also could have focused on what she means to both of us and how we appreciate her friendship in our lives.

 

The final point is context.  People you know well have preferences for how they like to be thanked.  Before you embark on a grand gesture of throwing a surprise party, ensure that the party is actually something the recipient would enjoy. Sometimes, people appreciate a verbal thanks; others like one that is written.  Some people enjoy a public thank you in front of people; others prefer to receive gratitude more privately.  Consider the desires of those you wish to thank to ensure a more successful receipt of your gesture.

 

Pick one person who you would like to thank this week.  

How will you thank them?

 1.    How can you focus on the giver?

 2.    How will you be authentic?

 3.    How will you thank the person in their preferred context?  

 

In summary, work through the following three steps to honor others who make you feel valued and important.

 

Step 1. Choose to see how others care and appreciate you.

 

Step 2. Choose to thank others for their kindness.

 

Step 3. Consider HOW you express gratitude so that it honors the giver.

 

Enjoy your elevated state of appreciation and the joy you will also bring to others!

 

 

If you don’t show appreciation to those that deserve it,

they’ll learn to stop doing the things you appreciate.

Author unknown

 

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize

they were the big things.

Author unknown

 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

1.  Algoe, S. B., Gable, S. L. & Maisel, N. C.  (2010).  It’s the little things:  Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships.  Personal Relationships 17 (2), 217-233.

2.  Pawelski, S. P. & Pawelski, J. O.  (2018).  Happy together:  Using the science of positive psychology to build love that lasts.  New York:  TarcherPerigree.

https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Together-Science-Positive-Psychology/dp/0143130595

 

 

 

 

 

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