Appreciation – the easiest way to practise kindness

 

 
 
This post is probably going to bring back emotions from my past that I couldnt deal with and just buried deep inside my heart. I’m probably going to be sulking all day after I write this. But I have built up the courage to stare at those old ghosts in the face with the hope that whoever reads this will want to avoid even unknowingly giving someone sad memories to live with all their lives.
 
Abraham Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs

Lets consider the importance of appreciation in our lives.Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist created a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms.” The third level of need is “Love and Belonging,” which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends.
 
I will concentrate on the importance of the fourth level for the purpose of this post. At the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for appreciation and respect. When the needs at the bottom three levels have been satisfied, the esteem needs begin to play a more prominent role in motivating behavior.
 
Simply put, people need a lot more than favorable circumstances and self motivation to achieve their goals, to become a better person or to become better at something. Without the psychology babble, plainly put, just imagine yourself as a child for a while. You’ve won an award at school for being outstanding at something. Sure, it feels great to have your teachers and classmates applaud your achievement, hear nice things being said about you. Youre feeling just a bit taller than usual. You cant wait to rush home to see what your family has to say about the whole thing.  You rush home at lightning speed and show your trophy/certificate of appreciation. Youre expecting your family to fuss over you atleast for a day and maybe call up relatives and tell them all about your achievement while you stand there, listening. Wouldnt that feel lovely, instead of the usual routine of when your parents are complaining to relatives about something you did/didnt do!
 
Your mom looks at your prize and listens to you tell her animatedly about what a big deal you were at school today. You wait for her reaction and she says, “hmm. Nice.” 
 
Would that cold reaction confuse you? (whats up with her?!) Would that break your heart just a little? Maybe I am super touchy, because something similar happened to me over 15 years ago and it altered my self esteem for life. It pained my heart then, as a clueless and continues to do so today, as a mother to a lovely one year old. Maybe I am plain stupid to let it affect me so long, afterall, the power to change my reaction to something is in my hands. 
 
But my point is, it takes next to nothing to appreciate someone. If in the above example the mother would have taken a minute and found kind words to encourage and appreciate the achievement, however insignificant it seemed to her, it would have become a beautiful memory perhaps for the mother AND the child.
 
Showing your appreciation is a simple and beautiful way of practising kindness in your life. How many times does it happen to us everyday, that we think someone is doing an amazing job, or is looking really pretty, or maybe just deserves to hear what a wonderful person you think they are? Its easier than you think, to begin being vocal about your appreciation. Your genuine compliment or a sincere ‘thankyou’ could be the brightest spot in someone’s day! It could serve to inspire someone to do even better, be a better person.
 
Decades ago a kind teacher said to her student, ” You write really well. You could become a renowned writer someday! Remember me then!”. Decades later, that still is the kindest words of appreciation and encouragement anyone ever said to that girl. She hopes, someday, she will live up to that kind teacher’s expectations and get to tell her, “I owe this to your kind words of appreciation”. 🙂
 
May you find it your heart to go brighten someone’s day!
 
Love, peace and happiness to you and your loved ones.
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