According to Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of nonviolent communication, since appreciation is one of the basic needs that we all have, nonviolent communicators are taught how to do it. When appreciation is given, it is “purely to celebrate, not get something in return. Our sole intention is to celebrate the way our lives have been enriched by others.” (groups.yahoo.com/group/GratitudeInspiration/message/226)
Enriching a person’s life is one of the best choices, or investments we can make. We’ll never know how far a person can spread the goodness that we give them. Rosenberg states that the three parts of expressing appreciation are:
1. Telling the person that what they did contributed to our well-being (made our lives better).
2. Letting them know what needs of ours were met by the action.
3. How it made us feel good to have those needs fulfilled.
It doesn’t have to be formal. In fact, he states all three can be conveyed by a smile, but he suggests that we learn to develop “the eloquence to express all three components verbally.”
When I Googled “power of appreciation” 63,000,000 hits came up, including several books written about it. There is a lot a person can read about how appreciation is a powerful force for good for all of us.
One article I chose mentioned the opposite of appreciation, negativity. Mike Robbins in his book “Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation” discusses the human tendency to “obsess over negative things instead of focusing on the good stuff in life.”
He believes that if more people stopped focusing on the bad, the world would become a better place in which to live.
People who study behavior know that reinforcement is more powerful than punishment in shaping a person’s behavior (getting a person to do what you’d like them to do). If someone punishes or criticizes me for something I did, it only shows me what I did wrong, and not what I am supposed to do. But when I am appreciated and/or rewarded for what I did, then I know what to do again.
Mother’s Day is coming up on May 12. It is a time when we appreciate and give back to the woman who gave us life, and who works (or worked) very hard to give us what we need to get a good start in our lives. Perhaps you’d like to start practicing your appreciation skills on her! So where do you begin? Well, we are multi-dimensional beings, and you can list what you appreciate about her at all the levels:
• Body: How does she help your body become strong and healthy? Or, what do you like about her body ... her eyes when she smiles at you? Or her hugs when you need a little lift?
• Mind: How has she helped develop your mind and trained your thinking? Do you remember her reading to you or taking you to the library? Does she make you come up with your own solutions to problems, or help you with homework? Or, what do you like about her mind? Is it creative? Does she have a sense of humor? Can she remember well?
• Spirit: How is she helping you connect with your soul and your Creator? Does she demonstrate humanitarian love, honesty, peace, respect and integrity?
• Social: What do you like about the way she prepares you to be with others? Does she tell you what to expect when you have to do something for the first time? Did she teach you good manners….the ways things are done in your specific culture, and also the “Melting Pot” culture? Do you know the school rules and state laws? Does she encourage you to develop conflict resolution skills, or help you work out problems respectfully with others when they arise?
Maybe you can let her know. Not just on one day of the year, but all this week, and beyond Mother’s Day. When you get good at it, practice on your Father, and brothers and sisters. Most definitely tell your teacher. They also work hard to get you a good start in life. You probably already compliment your friends, but what about people you don’t know so well?
You’ll discover something wonderful happens when you appreciate others. It makes you feel better. Science has proven that when people are kind to others, hormones are increased in their bodies that make them feel better. Sadly, when people are thinking negatively, hormones and brain patterns increase that make them feel worse. Which will you choose?
• Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org