The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.” – William James, well-known psychologist and philosopher
Let’s be honest – we all want and need to hear ‘you matter’ from our loved ones – if not every day but at least every once in a while. Knowing we have made a difference in someone’s lives through our actions or accomplishments gives us the motivation to do more and helps sustain relationships. But appreciating others or even things such as nature, beauty, etc. takes a lot of effort from us humans who are ever so full of ourselves. Expressing appreciation is often viewed as awkward, contrived, mawkish, and even in-genuine while on the other hand, when it comes to expressing negative emotions, we are surprisingly comfortable. It’s really unfortunate. But it doesn’t have to remain that way.
Heartfelt Appreciation Lifts People – Four Ways to Show It Right
#1 Little things matter: Giving your partner a soothing back massage in return for doing a truck load of laundry over the weekend or just saying ‘thank you’ when someone is actually only doing their daily house chores matters more than you imagine. Expressing genuine gratitude to your special someone by saying things like ‘Hey, you made my day by making my favourite breakfast today’ or ‘Wow! You’ve painted the room better than even a professional could do’ can get you far ahead in creating and maintaining serious relationship goals.
#2 The big things are important too: By big things we mean the major life milestones such as parenting, buying a house, making retirement investments, etc. It means the world to any spouse to hear things like ‘Hey! You make an awesome mom/dad and I’m so glad at my decision of marrying you’ or ‘Honey, I can trust your financial decisions for our family blindfolded for I know how good you are with these things’ from their partner. You’ll be amazed at how much happier such appreciation can make them or boost their self-confidence.
#3 Ask and listen intently: You’d think it’s simple – your loved ones can always tell you if they need anything. Only, the truth is the opposite. People feel so much better when they are asked without having to reach out to tell their needs. Irrespective of location, reach out to your loved ones, be it your parent, your special someone, other half, kids – on phone/mail/social media to see if there is anything you can do for them, no strings attached. If your other half is an always tired parent trying to balance their work and personal life, you could compliment them for all the things they accomplish in a day, or better still, gift them a personal assistant who can take some of the tedious tasks of their back. Ask freely, listen carefully, and act appropriately.
#4 Above all else, do no harm: Even in situations when your loved ones have fallen short of their commitment or duties, try to do no harm or less harm – for damage once done to any relationship cannot be undone. Nagging has solved no problems ever. The aim is to change your loved ones for the better and give them the space and strength they need to get to that point.
Begin by Appreciating Yourself
Practice appreciation by starting with yourself – ask what you did today that is worthy of praise and what could you do better tomorrow? Both these questions will reinforce your faith in ‘you matter’ and likewise for others.