Being Appreciative

Steven Covey wrote in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival: to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” 

Research suggests, in fact, that the most successful relationships have a ratio of at least 5 appreciations to every 1 criticism. The prevailing parenting advice when my kids were little included the suggestion to “catch” your kids being “good.” We are quick to reprimand and correct when we observe them doing something inappropriate; but are we a bit less likely to give them praise for any of the million things they do well?

In fact, criticism can do real damage to a relationship, but appreciations benefit everyone—kids, significant others, friends, co-workers, even strangers. Imagine giving (and receiving) five spoken positive pieces of feedback for every one critical message! 

In their article, “3 Ingredients to Mastering Appreciations,” Heath and Nicole Reed suggest that this practice is life changing, and recommend these three tips for making your mindful positive attention more effective:

  1. Keep it Brief. A one-sentence appreciation is more impactful than gushing on and on. 
  2. Speak Unarguably. Avoid hyperbole and focus instead on how you were impacted by the other person. For example, someone telling me, “That was the best massage ever!” is not as helpful as “I have less pain and so much more range of motion since you worked on my shoulder.”
  3. Be specific. Overgeneralizing is ambiguous—what does “You saved the day!” really mean? It’s better to say “I’m so relieved and happy that you’re helping me with this.”

The best appreciations, the Reeds say, “Focus on the inner nature, or essence of a person, like their integrity, patience, kindness, honesty, and how you were positively impacted.”

And there’s one person you must not forget to appreciate—YOU! We are usually our own worst critic, and that self-criticism is just as damaging as anything we might say to someone else. How much better to share appreciations with ourselves, at the same 5:1 ratio?!

Here’s the Reeds’ challenge: for one week, choose to start your day with appreciations about yourself. Say them out loud, maybe standing in front of a mirror. They have these suggestions for each day:

Day 1. Make contact with yourself and say, “I appreciate me.” Literally touch your face or give yourself a hug or put your hands over your heart and say “I appreciate ME” out loud.

Day 2. I appreciate my skill in ____________ (feel free to mention more than one skill!)

Day 3. Qualities I see and appreciate about me are __________ (this can be anything—be generous with yourself!)

Day 4. I appreciate how much I enjoy ____________ (what are your interests and hobbies and favorite things?)

Day 5. I see and appreciate my body, especially my ___________ (even if our body isn’t perfect, we can appreciate some aspect[s] of our physical selves)

Day 6. I appreciate how I love to discover _____________ .

Day 7. I appreciate how I easily communicate about _____________ .

This challenge is for one week, but the greater challenge is to switch gears when our inner critic shows up, and use appreciations to focus on what is “right” with us, rather than what is “wrong.” 

Your inner child is still in there. Catch her or him doing something “good,” just like I was advised to do with my old children 20+ years ago. I then tell yourself, “I appreciate you!” 

Source: “3 Ingredients to Mastering Apprications,” by Heath and Nicole Reed, “Massage & Bodywork” Magazine, November/December 2018

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth Posted on May 15, 2019

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