Practice Appreciation. It Feels Good.

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

It feels great to be appreciated, doesn’t it? It gives us a lift to know that someone values us for who we are, what we’ve done or said, how we’ve helped or grown. We get that glowing, happy sensation inside when the good in us is recognized. Appreciation nourishes the soul even more than food feeds the body.

Since we feel great when others appreciate us, how important, even necessary, it is for us to appreciate others. It’s that Golden Rule concept again. We appreciate others not just because we want them to appreciate us. Rather, we appreciate others because it’s the good, kind, compassionate thing to do. The Bible has many songs of thanksgiving. And the New Testament writers highlighted the importance of gratitude. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, there was a lot of emphasis placed on the one who returned and “with a loud voice glorified God” and then thanked Jesus for healing him (Luke 17:12-19). His gratitude brought him even more blessings.

Noticing the good about others and telling them that we value them puts a smile in our own thoughts that our whole body feels. That’s because we’re looking at the good stuff. And so we actually feel better. Our mental atmosphere has been lifted. This is not just positive thinking or hocus pocus. There are a lot of forward-thinking scientists and quantum physicists who support the concept that our observations of a thing actually change what we experience. What we choose to see makes a difference. If we choose to see the good, we actually will experience more good in our lives.

So how do we make sure we incorporate appreciation into our daily lives? There are a lot of ideas out there. My family has been doing a few that are having a profound effect. Each morning, usually on the way to school and at night around the dinner table, each family member says what he or she appreciates about each other family member. And it has to be specific.

Here are some simple ideas:

  • I appreciate that you woke up happy.
  • I appreciate that you comforted me when I was hurt.
  • I appreciate that you stayed up late to help me as I did my homework.
  • I appreciate that you took me to all my practices.
  • I appreciate that you helped make dinner.
  • I appreciate that you took care of your sibling.

Being grateful for the small and big things that we do for each other brings an attitude of respect and kindness to the entire family dynamics—parent to parent, parent to child, and sibling to sibling. Appreciation revitalizes and renews each relationship.

You could even take it further and have an appreciation board somewhere prominent in your house. Ours is in our kitchen, where we post notes recording acts of kindness that individual family members do for each other. Recognizing acts of kindness and posting them up is a way to appreciate the kindness and good deeds of others, to value these qualities, and to create a loving and warm culture in which to grow and learn and connect with our family members.

And how awesome would it be if you started this tradition and asked your parents to support this idea? I bet they would be so appreciative.