One of my team members, a wholehearted caregiver named Lila, and I went to the hospital on Mother’s Day Sunday and brought donuts for all the departments at CDH.
It was a tall stack of boxes of delicious-smelling, assorted donuts that we dropped off to appreciate all the staff members in the hospital that day for National Nurses Week, and Mother’s Day too, as it turned out! It was very fulfilling to see all the smiles it created. We genuinely appreciated being able to appreciate them! It made the rest of my day for sure getting to feel that gratitude energy from the hardworking nurses and staff at CDH.
Then I started thinking about topics this week for this column and a question jumped out that I’d like to pose to you: When you feel overwhelmed, tapped out, too busy to tend to the ‘extras’ — how much time and (more importantly) energy do you feel you have left to appreciate someone? Not much right?!
Our Happier Aging topic for today is appreciation. You’ll see how I think it will help support your happier aging in a moment. First, appreciation is defined as recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. It is quite similar to gratitude, which is defined more as ‘being thankful’. So, quite similar feelings, but somewhat different in our emotional response/feeling. If you take a brief moment right now and look around you and just appreciate something (or someone) for what it is, you’ll get a different feeling than if you look around at something/someone else and feel gratitude for what it is or who they are/what they have done for you.
Increasingly we hear of the merits and health benefits of gratitude. There’s no denying that. But what about appreciation, and when was the last time you truly appreciated someone? Honoured them with a gift that wasn’t tied to a holiday. Told them something deep and meaningful just because.
Where gratitude is often something you feel internally and keep to yourself, appreciation is more outwardly focused and a real, genuine opportunity to tell someone you care about them and appreciate who they are.
So, here’s my challenge to you this week if you’re open to it. Find someone you can appreciate just because. Not due to a holiday or because you think you are supposed to. But because you just want to appreciate them. Perhaps it’s an email. A letter. Sharing it verbally with someone you appreciate for any reason. A letter to an organization stating what you appreciate them for. Anything like that.
Then notice afterward how it made you feel. While I’m pretty sure how it will make the other person feel — great of course! — I’m still most interested in how it will make you feel to appreciate someone randomly. I’d be honoured if you did that…and, of course, I’d appreciate it.