16 Feb

The other day I was reviewing my book in preparation for its publication and I came upon the chapter about ‘appreciation’. This seemed relevant to my previous discussion about gratitude.

Appreciation is a subtle but strong force that very often gets lost among the more frequent negative feedback. Appreciation is different from praise or gratitude. It is a direct statement that expresses a sense of value unrelated to performance or action.

We lap it up as adults because we don’t experience it frequently. It gets muddled among other grateful expressions, such as praise for our work or our charitable deeds. Has your boss or partner ever said to you, “You know, I really appreciate having you in my life”? This certainly doesn’t happen to everybody, and it makes a huge impact when it does.

For our children to truly understand the feeling of being appreciated, we must express it specifically.

It doesn’t get simpler than that. Appreciation is not a state of mind like many other things I have discussed in this book. Rather, it is an action, and we must be willing to “open our hearts” and state it. “Opening one’s heart” is the best way to describe the initial emotion we must access to truly express appreciation. Sincere appreciation comes from that place inside us that represents our heart-felt feelings. We lose nothing if we take a moment of our time to articulate, in simple words, a genuine sense of appreciation for those we value.

Telling our kids that we appreciate them may seem trite or unnecessary because we express that feeling in so many other ways.

Although appreciation is not the same as love and therefore is not of equal value, it comes from our feelings of love.

Appreciation has its own distinct value and, when articulated, its own distinct positive impact. We don’t want to “wear it out,” but it certainly could use some regular exercise! We don’t even need a special occasion.

For example, you could be driving home from school with your fourteen-year-old and just blurt out, “Jenny, I really appreciate you.” If you haven’t done this often, she may look confused. If she asks you where that came from, tell her that you were just thinking of it. You don’t have to give her a long-winded reason; keeping it simple and without a particular agenda works better. A spontaneous expression can have quite a memorable effect. If one waits to express appreciation until one is trying to repair some damage to the relationship, it may seem contrived and thus loose some of its impact and emotion.


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