A little goes a long way. This is true for most things in life, but today I’m talking about appreciation. As a “giver” I am used to exhausting myself in order to make someone else’s day brighter or easier, and it usually doesn’t dawn on me to accept a “thank you” for it. That could be because I live in a house with three busy boys – all of whom are overly cared for and rarely take the time to appreciate all that is done for them in order for them to live their daily lives. I do all of this with love in my heart so most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s taken for granted. It also helps that one day a week, someone appreciates me.
Every Thursday I volunteer at a local hospital. Every Thursday I am welcomed with open arms, giant smiles and a hug. Yes, they are THAT excited to see me and THAT appreciative for my four-hours of help. Throughout my four hours, I can see how grateful they are that I have chosen to spend my time with them and it truly warms my heart.
Life is a series of checks and balances and I “don’t sweat the small stuff.” My Thursdays, counteract the Monday that I rearranged my social calendar to help out my son; or the Friday I spent cleaning and doing laundry which goes unnoticed. It wipes out the Saturday that I spent four hours cooking and prepping for a dinner party, only to wake up on Sunday to find a dirty kitchen again from a teenager needing a midnight snack. The things I do for my family are all done with love and usually with a smile on my face. Every once in awhile, my people stop to think about the machine that keeps this family running and that’s always nice – but I don’t expect it. I’m “simply positive” that appreciating “being appreciated” when it comes is good enough. Expecting to be appreciated is awaiting misery.
With this said, I don’t always “thank” my husband for providing for my family or “thank” my children for doing well in school or helping around the house. Sometimes the day in and day out of life becomes so routine that you just forget to notice. I think because my contribution to my family has more of a care-giving/task-orientation/errand-running/favor-granting tone, it’s an easier target for sensitivity. Having this role has made me much more empathetic to others and I pay attention when someone does something nice or offers great service. Saying “thank you” and meaning it are important. Looking a waiter in the eye to thank him for his service means as much as leaving a tip; taking the time to write a note to a teacher who took special notice in your child could reignite their passion for their craft; thanking your child for helping around the house may spark an interest in helping more often – okay, maybe that one was wishful thinking.
I admire those who keep a gratitude journal; it’s not something I’ve ever been good at keeping up….but I guarantee if I had one I would fill it up. Having an attitude for gratitude is one way I’m living my most positive life.