How fluent are you in the language of appreciation? In our "do more" and "be more productive" culture, often times, learning appreciation and gratitude is a muscle that most of us haven't been encouraged to develop. But, appreciation simply defined as the recognition of the good qualities of someone (or something), and gratitude broadly defined as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to you, can make the difference between a relationship filled with headaches and one that's filled will peace.
But, it's not just a simple "thank you" that will change your relationships. The type of appreciation I'm talking about here is the kind that opens you up to see and comment on another person's strengths in a genuine, caring, and respectful way. What's more, a number of early research suggests that expressing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation to your child, colleague, partner, etc., can create positive feelings, which in turn, contribute to your overall sense of well being and life satisfaction. (1)
So what are a few simple steps you can take to increase appreciation in your relationships?
1. Start with yourself. Take a few moments each day and create a list of things in your life for which you are grateful. Maybe, it's your family, your dog, the food you eat, or your job. Don't overthink it. Just write. Another action you might try is to take a few minutes at the end of each day to ask yourself: “What did I do that I can feel satisfied with today?”
2. Appreciate others. Notice what your partner, children, friends, colleagues do well. Think of what you appreciate and just say it to them out loud. Another action might be to write a thank you note to someone, or send a letter to someone you recognize as valuable in your life. The more specific you can be about what you value, the more positive your impact on that person may be. Lastly, practice saying "thank you" to your grocery clerk, bank teller, or restaurant server, and just observe the response you receive in return.
1. Gratitute and Well-being. Pyschiatry (Edgemont). 2010 November; 7 (11)18-22.
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