A friend recently sent me a birthday card, and in it she said, “You are one of the special blessings in my life! I am so grateful for your friendship…” This meant so much to me and was such a gift. It made my heart warm as I felt loved and appreciated. The special feelings lingered and made my day.
A few weeks ago, a client I worked with many years ago sent me a holiday card. Just the fact that she remembered me and thought to send me a card was so touching. In it, she ended by saying, “Thank you again so much for your life changing help. I am forever grateful.” I felt so wonderful after getting that card, and I floated around on joy for a while. Both of these cards and messages meant so much to me. I remember them, reflect on them at times, especially when I’m not feeling special or competent, and reread them when I need a smile.
You might not think a sentence in a card could carry such weight, but you would be wrong. I recently wrote about the benefits of feeling gratitude in your life daily, but it’s just as important to express appreciation often for others as well. These small words of thanks or compliments to someone carry such weight and can bring such positive feelings.
We all want to be seen and acknowledged; however, we go through life and so rarely get appreciated for who we are or what we’re doing. How we parent, who we are as a friend or spouse, the work we do so rarely get complimented or recognized. It is really a gift and can make someone’s day to let them know you see them and they are pretty special in some way.
The Positive Psychology field has conducted extensive research on both experiencing and expressing gratitude. Their studies show that expressing appreciation for others is correlated with more happiness, better well-being, lower stress, and lower levels of depression. Additionally, when partners in a relationship express gratitude toward one another, the relationship becomes more satisfying and the partners feel more connected. When you acknowledge a friend or partner in a loving way, this increases your warm feelings toward them and increases their positive regard for you and your relationship.
So the next time your partner says or does something that you appreciate, tell them. When you’re with someone special to you, such as a good friend or child, let them know what they mean to you. Let your colleague know what you are impressed with in them. Pass on appreciation to others and you will spread joy. Additionally, you will feel good in having given someone a meaningful gift. Appreciation really is a gift that keeps on giving!
I had a great time talking with the residents in the Department of Radiology at UPenn yesterday! They were really engaged and energized by the ideas we were discussing. They especially liked the ideas that perfection is not possible and also that how we define competence, success, and failure contribute so strongly to Imposter Syndrome. Discussing Imposter Syndrome together will help them bring this topic more into the open and to support each other with the ways they are trying to combat it. It also helps them realize more fully that they are not alone in their experiences.