One of the first words we teach our children is to say, “Thank you.” Why? It’s the right thing to do. It’s simply polite. We want them to appreciate the small things in life and to not take things for granted nor feel entitled. The words, “Thank you” are not only heard, but also felt, when expressed with meaning and authenticity.
I’m sometimes very surprised when I hear that couples no longer express appreciation to one another, in their daily interactions. How do you feel when someone says, Thank you? It’s a humanistic spiritual connection. It’s a non-material, incorporeal, intangible appreciation that enhances the human welfare. We all have good and bad habits; it’s wise to be aware of these habits, but most important, retain those which are good— including the satisfying habit of saying, “Thank you.”
Tony Robbins, an American author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach speaks about the benefits of being grateful on one of his self-help audio Cd’s. He shares how fear disappears when we are grateful/appreciative. He encourages others to say-out-loud all the things that we are appreciative of (people, moments); additionally, we must focus on what we want as if it’s already achieved. The goal is to replace the focus from fears to what we are appreciative of..
Writer and spiritual figure, Marianne Williamson, says: “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown emphasizes, “We are a nation hungry for more joy, because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.” Everyone needs to feel appreciated.
A few years ago, a friend of mine (who, with her husband, counsels couples at their church) recommended a book, His Needs, Her Needs, that she thought might be of interest to couples seeking counseling. The author, Willard F. Harley, lists the five needs that most men have and the five needs most women have. Harley places "admiration" as a need for men, but I see this need as essential to both men and women.
Those who spend time with children will notice that children often seek admiration, especially from their guardians. A child might return from school with an art project and say, “Mom, look at what I did!” This is clearly admiration-seeking behavior. The mother, in turn, might respond excitedly, "You are so talented! It's great! I’m so proud of you!" Adults, similarly, need to hear expressions of admiration from others: Willard Harley says that honest admiration is a great motivator; driving people toward continuous improvement in every aspect of their lives (while frequent criticism, the antithesis of admiration, discourages improvements and triggers defensiveness). He recommends surrounding yourself with people who value you.
In the field of psychology, mirroring is the process in which the parent imitates the infant’s expressions. The parent verbalizes the emotion implied by the infant’s expression. Therefore, mirroring serves two functions: it facilitates the creation of connections between emotions and their expressions; and it serves to validate the infant's emotions. The parent's imitation signals approval and appreciation of the infant's feelings.
Most people look in the mirror before leaving their homes each day, to assure themselves that their appearance will project who they are, how they feel, and what they value about themselves. In adult interactions, mirroring is the subliminal remodeling of another person's verbal or non-verbal gestures. If we are excited about a new job, we share our excitement with others, seeking a similar response. The response of others will serve as either an expression of assurance or of doubt; of praise or of discouragement; of empathy or of disregard.
Appreciation and admiration are feelings and expressions that help to bring out the best in your self and in others. Practice and nurture these in all your interactions.
Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden.
Iacoboni, M. (2008). Mirroring people: The new science of how we connect with others. New York, NY: Picador.
Gergely, G.; Watson, J. (1996). The social biofeedback theory of parental affect-mirroring: the development of emotional self-awareness and self-control in infancy. PubMed – NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9119582 -Retrieved 25 November 2017.