The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the time when most people tend to demonstrate their love and appreciation. But wouldn’t it be nice to experience that level of joy, love and appreciation every day of the year?
The process begins with us.
Someone once gave me a card that said, “The love I give to you is second-hand because I experienced it first.” In other words, for us to love someone else, we first have to feel the love within us.
To develop the ability to maintain a state of love and gratitude on a more regular basis, we need to make it a habit. We do dozens of things every day on automatic pilot, such as eating our meals, taking showers, or doing the dishes. We don’t have to spend time visualizing these activities or putting them on our to-do lists. We simply do them out of habit. Expressing appreciation on a daily basis will help you turn gratitude into a daily habit with multiple benefits.
3 Kinds of Appreciation
For your appreciation to hit the mark, keep in mind that there are three different kinds of appreciation – auditory, visual and kinesthetic. These are the three ways that our brains take in information, and everyone has a dominant type they prefer. Tailor the type of appreciation you give to suit the person you want to honor.
Auditory people like to hear appreciation. Expressing thanks verbally is the best way to let them know how much we appreciate them. Auditory people are very sensitive to the tones of our voices, so speaking in a caring and compassionate voice is highly effective.
Visual people like to receive things they can see. Letters, cards, flowers, plaques, certificates, pictures and any other gifts are perfect for these individuals.
Kinesthetic people need to feel appreciation. My wife is a kinesthetic person. She loves to do things that make her feel good, such as hiking, getting massages or picking out clothes that feel good to the touch. The best way for me to express appreciation to my wife is with a hug, a kiss or simply spending time with her.
Blend for Impact
When in doubt, use all three types of communication. Tell them, show them and give them a pat on the back. For example, put your arm around your kids when you tell them how much you appreciate them and then follow up later with a card.
Using multiple forms of communication also can strengthen your message. Although I am very visual, I’m also a big fan of physical touch. If you give me a hug, a handshake or a high five, the physical touch multiples the appreciation I feel by a factor of 10!
New habits take 30 to 60 days to lock in. An Appreciation Scorecard is an easy way to build the habit of expressing your gratitude.
When I was working to consciously lock in this new habit, I carried a 3” x 5” card in my pocket all day. Every time I acknowledged and appreciated someone, I would place a check mark on the card.
I set a goal of appreciating 10 people every day. I would not go to bed without achieving my daily quota. I would appreciate my wife and children, write letters to my mother or stepfather, or e-mail my staff. I did this every day for 6 months, until I no longer needed the card as a reminder.
As we build the habit of appreciation, it helps to expand the circle of people whom we appreciate. Our society flourishes because of connections. We literally couldn’t survive without other people. Nobody pumps their own petroleum, turns it into gas, and trucks it into their own town. Other people do it. The food we eat probably has 30 to 40 people involved in it before it gets to our tables. Although they may be strangers, the people who serve us by doing their part in making our society function deserve our thanks, too.
Build Your Appreciation Muscle
To build the habit of appreciation, I encourage you to keep a daily scorecard as I did. Express your appreciation to at least 10 people a day, both individuals you know intimately, as well as virtual strangers who touch your life. Experiment with the different forms of appreciation, and observe how much more deeply your appreciation is received when you find the right way to deliver it for each individual.