Last weekend, all of my friends got together and had an amazingly fun girls night-without me. Whomp Whomp. I had prior obligations, and while I was sad that I couldn’t be there, I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.
What made this event stick out to me, however, wasn’t the fact that I was missed out, but the fact that they all took the time to tell me that they wished I was with them and to make sure I knew that they would have rather had me join in the fun.
Now, having a group of girlfriends is probably old hat to most women my age, but I haven’t yet had this experience: I grew up fast, working all the time, and I was married throughout college, the time when most people are forming solid friend groups for life. This show of appreciation for, well, just being me made me feel amazing.
This got me thinking: how often do we take the time to let people know that they are appreciated simply just for existing in our lives? When do we take the time out of our day to write a text, drop a note, take advantage of a pause in conversation just to say hey…you’re awesome. Thanks for being in my life.
Polite habits are ingrained (or should be ingrained) in us from childhood. Say please and thank you. Write a thank you letter when you receive a gift. Make sure that if someone does you a favor you pay them back somehow, someway.
Yet we rarely take the time to appreciate people just for being them. And let me tell you from one who has received an abundance of ‘just because’ recognition lately: it feels damn good.
When it comes down to it, appreciation is simply showing that you notice and you are grateful. Writing a thank you note for that brand-new wedding crock pot is a formalized way of saying Hey! I liked this thing you picked out for me. I am really happy that I don’t have to go get one myself. Thank you!
When you tell someone ‘thank you’, or ‘miss you’, or ‘wish you were here’, it’s saying that you notice them and you’re grateful for what they bring into your life. You observe what they do when you’re around, and you care when they are not around.
There are so many people in your world that deserve appreciation.
That barista that makes you coffee every morning? It would make her day to hear a heartfelt greeting and sincere words of acknowledgment on how much she kicks ass every morning.
That office lady who always greets you with a smile, no matter what? It would mean the world to hear even the smallest affirmation of how well she does her job.
That coworker who keeps his head down and just does his job-but does it well? He would love to hear that people notice his dedication.
No matter how much we tell ourselves that we can give ourselves our own props and it doesn’t matter how other people notice, when push comes to shove, this is complete and total bullshit. While we can, of course, keep going without cheerleaders and can accomplish anything we want sans pats on the back, the truth is, receiving that acknowledgment and recognition from others around us can act as high-octane gas in our fuel tank.
Sometimes, our encouragement just serves as as a touchstone for others on their journey, a sign that they are doing what they need to do. Other times, our confirmation can be the push that sends them soaring beyond anything they dreamed they were capable of, that little rev on the engine that sent them shooting beyond the mark they made for themselves.
We never know where anyone is in their life journey. So seek out opportunities to appreciate others. These opportunities can be as big as letting someone know that you think they’re doing such a great job that you’re going to recommend them for a promotion, or as small as saying thank you to the random stranger who holds open the door for you.
There are so many situations that we fail to take advantage of; appreciation opportunities are actually quite frequent; you simply have to pay attention:
Tell your friend that you miss them when they aren’t there.
Tell your spouse that you feel lucky to be married to them, just because.
Tell your coworker that they are doing amazing, especially when you can see they’re having a tough day.
Tell your boss that you appreciate his communication.
Tell your mailman that you appreciate his service.
Many times we tend to think “well, it’s just so-and-so’s JOB to do that. I don’t need to acknowledge anything”. Who the hell cares? It’s MY job to teach, and guess what my favorite thing in the world is: hearing ‘thank you’ from a student. People may be getting paid to do something, but money exchanging hands should not be a determining factor for with-holding gratitude. Besides the light that you will bring to others, it also serves to make YOU feel amazing.
Take the time to reflect on who actually is a help to you, who makes you feel amazing, who is there for you when shit hits the fan, who makes you laugh, who knows you inside and out, and who is doggedly keeping your life running in the background. After you’ve realized all the amazing people that you know and who is true gold in your life, take the time to sincerely tell them ‘thank you’. And then, every once in a while, just so they don’t forget…tell them again.