When it comes to relationships, be it friends, coworkers, parents and children, siblings, life partners/spouses, and even the relationship with yourself, one ‘stock’ you should invest heavily in is appreciation. There truly is no such thing as expressing too much gratitude for the essential people in your life.
Sincere appreciation expressed in any relationship is equivalent to a substantial deposit into the bank account of that partnership. It builds wealth and a sturdy foundation. Along with attention and affection, it’s part of the trifecta for relating to others.
This wealth-building appreciation must be heartfelt. When gratitude comes from your heart, it opens you up to see and understand another person’s point of view, even when it is fundamentality different from your own. It is the kind of appreciation that notices another person’s strengths and acknowledges them out loud and with pride; the type of appreciation that’s built on respect and that treasure’s another person’s value and worth.
When we receive appreciation from someone, we are grateful, and we then sincerely appreciate them in return. That’s where the power and beauty of gratitude lies. That’s why appreciation can make all the difference between a relationship that’s withering and one that’s full of life.
When we give someone the gift of recognizing their strengths, it motivates them to live up to our positive perceptions. What you praise (from your heart!) grows.
When your appreciation is coming from your heart, it feels warm, deep, and abundant. Sometimes it’s almost like reverence, a feeling of honoring, respectfulness, or pride. It lifts your spirit and makes you view the world in a different light. When you make an effort to show your gratitude, it shifts your perception of the world around you for the better. You can apply appreciation in any situation, and with any person you encounter.
Not a single moment passes that doesn’t contain something or someone worth appreciating—if only for the lessons and insights they bring.
How to Invest in Appreciation
Increasing your experience of appreciation is as simple as giving your attention to it.
Start Small: Look around you; what do you see, own, hear, taste, smell that you appreciate? What brings you pleasure or makes you smile? What gives you a feeling of peace, contentment, or meaning? What inspires or comforts you?
Appreciate Yourself: What parts of you do you appreciate? They can be physical, emotional, or mental attributes.
Appreciate Others: Think about a specific friend or loved one. What do they bring to your life? Which of their characteristics, strengths, or talents are you grateful for?
What personality traits do you see most clearly in your mate, child, sibling, coworker, or friend? Watch for concrete ways they express those strengths and make a concerted effort to tell them specific examples of this trait and why you appreciate it. If your child spends hours watching videos on origami and then creates a fantastic piece of paper art, tell them how impressed you are with their focus, attention to detail, and willingness to learn.
Appreciation in Action
Now comes the magical part. Once you’re tuned in to the feeling of appreciation, share the wealth! Express it!
If you’re in a close relationship, ask your partner if they would like to try sharing lists of appreciated personality traits.
Make or buy a special gift for your partner that you thoughtfully choose to reflect something you appreciate—a recognition of a favorite hobby, talent, or passion. Going out of your way to give a deeply personalized gift is a powerful gesture.
On the more casual side, play the game of “Caught You,” where you let someone know when you caught them doing something thoughtful, helpful, or kind. You can even use this with strangers to boost their day and give yourself some practice in building your awareness skills.
Showing appreciation physically, with a hug, a smile, a high five, or with a gentle brush of the cheek, is a powerful way to deepen personal bonds.
Let your appreciation show! Send an email or a hand-written note. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Send a text to express your love. Invest in the stock of appreciation and watch how it grows the wealth of your relationships.