He who appreciates another enriches himself far more than the one whom he praises. To praise is an investment in one’s own happiness. The poorest human being has something to give that the richest could not buy.
— George Mathew Adams
The neighbour who waves to you cheerfully and greets you with a cheerful hello…
The friend who never fails to call you up and talk to you…
Your spouse who is always there for you…
Your mother who always has a piping hot meal ready for you when you return home…
Everyday we are witness to acts of loving kindness offered to us. Let us not dismiss them as small or trivial. They deserve to be appreciated.
Are you taking them for granted?
It is our besetting fault that we often take people for granted. We eat what is placed on the table but fail to appreciate the person who cooked the meal. We lean on our friends for support, cry on their shoulders but fail to appreciate them for always being there for us. Go up to people; reach out to praise them, thank them, appreciate them for what they have done and you will really make a difference.
Ludwig Von Beethoven was one of the greatest musicians the world has known. At the age of 11, he began to compose music and in his teens he won fame and fortune as a great composer. One evening, Beethoven was passing by a cobbler’s cottage, when he heard someone practising one of his compositions. As he paused to listen, he heard a girl exclaim, “I wish I could hear a real musician playing this piece, so that I could learn to render it properly!” Beethoven entered the cottage and found a young girl seated at a piano. She was blind. Offering to play for her, he sat at the piano and played for an hour or so. The girl was enthralled! Her appreciation fired the enthusiasm of Beethoven, and he went on playing. Dusk had set in; the cottage grew dark but the silvery moonlight filtered into the room. Under its inspiration and the whole-hearted warmth of the girl’s appreciation, Beethoven composed his famous Moonlight Sonata.
Give it freely to others
Not all of us are blessed with great musical talent, or a captivating voice. Not all of us have what are called ‘leadership qualities’ or ‘organising abilities’. We don’t all win prizes, awards and scholarships. But all of us can—and must—cultivate the beautiful quality of appreciation. We must learn to praise others. It is no mean thing to possess this special talent of praising others, for without our appreciation, even the brightest people in the world cannot shine!
Ask a singer: can he give a concert to an empty hall?
Ask a speaker: can he deliver an impassioned oration before his mirror?
Ask an actor: what would he be without his fans?
Ask a writer: whom is he writing for?
Appreciation works wonders. And don’t think this is confined to spiritual matters alone; it works in every field, every walk
A distinguished Professor of the Kelloggs Business School, Deepak Jain, observes: “A leader will be truly successful only when his subordinates believe that they can grow under him.” How best can this impression be conveyed to them? Surely by the leader’s words of appreciation and encouragement.
A young man who was about to begin his career was told by his father, “You must learn to give your best with or without appreciation. Don’t let the quality of your work suffer because others do not praise you.” Sound words indeed. It is good not to expect appreciation for all that we do. But nothing should stop us from expressing appreciation for others. Now for example, if the young man’s bosses had been told “Don’t be content with just paying your workers’ salary. Encourage them with your words of appreciation whenever possible.” What a world of difference it would have made to the young man’s work!
Husbands need to reflect
Perhaps, husbands are more insensitive, more lacking in this aspect. A survey of women in rural America revealed that farmers’ wives had one common complaint; they were taken for granted. They were hardly ever thanked for what they did. One of them narrated an amusing incident. Everyday she took the trouble to make a delicious meal to set before her husband and sons when they returned home from work in the evening. She learnt new recipes. She prepared complicated dishes. It was obvious that they enjoyed the meal for it disappeared in no time at all. But not a word of thanks, not a single compliment was forthcoming.
In exasperation, on evening she made a meal of cattle feed and set it, steaming hot, on the table. “What’s this?” they screamed, when they had downed the first mouthful, “Are you crazy or what?”
“I have waited 26 years and not heard a word of praise from you,” she replied. “I never ever thought that you would notice the difference.”
Every now and then, all of us need to hear someone say to us, “I think you are wonderful!” And we need to say this to our friends, our colleagues and co-workers, our parents, spouses and children.
Today is a good day to start
Why don’t you utter the magic words of appreciation to someone today?
Dale Carnegie tells us, “Three-fourths of all the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for appreciation. Give it to them and they will love you!” Indeed, appreciative words are the greatest incentive for doing good work. When you tell your child, husband or friend that they are wrong, that they are insensitive or that they have done something badly, you take away their incentive for improvement. On the other hand, when you are liberal with your encouragement and appreciation, they will do their best and surprise you with what they can achieve!
Making others feel good about themselves builds better relationships. This is what Lord Chesterfield urges his son to do: Make every person like himself a little better, and he or she will begin to like you very much. Sincere praise reassures people. It dissolves the negative notions they have about themselves and improves their self-esteem.
6 simple ways to show your appreciation
- Happy about the service in a hotel, restaurant or a flight? Tell the attendants how well they did their job.
- Enjoyed reading a book or an article online? Take time to write to the author or leave a comment of appreciation.
- If an employee makes it to work in spite of being unwell, pat him on the back for his dedication.
- Got a friend who is always honest with her feedback and criticism? Thank her for helping you grow into a better person.
- Know someone struggling with self-esteem issues? Tell him positive things about him that will make him feel confident.
- Appreciate your spouse or parent in front of others for the little things they do for you everyday. Remember, it’s their little thoughtful acts that actually make a big difference to your life.
This was first published in the October 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.