The Gift of Appreciation

March 5th, 2013

Appreciation is a feeling that when expressed can often create joy or warmth in another.  As described in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Appreciation: a sensitive awareness; a recognition of aesthetic values; an expression of admiration, approval or gratitude. A genuinely meant “Thank You” can have the same emotional impact as “Feeling Appreciated”.

Appreciation is a powerful (and often unused) tool for bonding with others.  The truth is we all yearn to be appreciated.  In my practice as a therapist over many years, I’ve realized that one of the most common underlying factors contributing to poor mental health is low self-esteem.  And most often this condition comes from a childhood where the child did not receive approval and may not have ever felt truly appreciated.

To express appreciation for another can be an incredible gift, and it does’t cost a thing.  To the receiver, an expression of appreciation can change the flavor of one’s day or even one’s life.  So very often we might forget to express this powerful healing tool, perhaps because we may not realize what this gift that it can be to another person.

Expressing our appreciation to another can have a powerful impact in so many areas of their lives.  In a marriage or relationship the true expression of appreciation can heal wounds.  It can change the flavor of a work place when an employer expresses appreciation for the work done by an employee.  The possibilities are endless; and it can be done in so many simple ways.  Such expressions as, “Good job done” or “Thank you so much for your effort” are simple and easy to extend.  It just takes remembering to do it.

The following are some thoughts on the subject of appreciation by some people of note:

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Voltaire, a philosopher

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”  Margaret Cousins, a writer

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” The Dalai Lama

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around” Willie Nelson,

Another way to apply the principal of appreciation in our lives is to give this gift to one’s own self.  We all face challenges in our lives; the small ones and those that seem overwhelming.  Most of us understand that this is how life goes.  That’s just part of being alive.  But as hard as our own lives may be at times, we may encounter others who face problems even greater than our own.  This can give us pause, a chance to gain a sense of perspective about how good our lives might actually be and to be aware that truly speaking, things could be much worse.  It’s a powerful personal practice to really stop and appreciate all the good things that we do have in our lives right now, to see our lives through the lens of gratitude rather than disappointment.

Another, perhaps delicious aspect of the practice appreciation is that we we’re able to appreciate a beautiful sunset, the miracles of nature, perhaps just the warm sun on our backs, or the simple reality of waking up in the morning alive.

The practice of appreciation can lend an richness to our lives which otherwise may have never existed.  It’s a powerful way to connect more deeply with others while also allowing us to be increasingly present to the miracle of our own unique life.

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