How to Strengthen Your Relationships with Appreciation and Acknowledgment

How to Strengthen Your Relationships with Appreciation and Acknowledgment

PHIL: In recent years I have come to see that working together in a group is essential for survival, starting with the archetypal caveman and continuing through today.

I live in a wonderful town. People resurface the roads for me so my car has a smooth ride. They take away my trash each week. Other people keep a large building stocked with food that I can buy, and yet more people deliver goods and letters to my house. In turn, I do work that helps other people, and a long time ago, humans invented money so all this can be more equitable.

We have developed thousands of activities together for our mutual benefit that are so central to living that they are taken for granted and become invisible; only money and our own work are seen. Everything is transactional. It creates a sense of obligation. But missing from all this is a sense of gratitude for the contributions from everyone else. It is the difference between feeling isolated and feeling connected. The way to change your relation to society is to appreciate everything it does for you and gives you. Money is a poor measure of value here; ask an artist, a poet, a thinker, an inventor.

Being appreciative changes you, but it is by expressing it that you do your small part in changing society. How many people made those jeans you are wearing? Who dug the ore for those copper rivets? How did that banana get from Latin America to your plate? Everything is a miracle of cooperation. You can’t thank everyone involved, but you can thank the people with whom you interact: the sales clerk, the bus driver, the help desk. Even if they are sullen, recognize their contribution and thank them. In that way, they will feel seen, appreciated, and part of society, not just a cog in the machine.

When it comes to friends and family, beware of familiarity. We are wired to pay attention to novelty and overlook the unchanging, so do not let your appreciation fade. Look for the positive, be grateful for the goodness in your life, and say so. Giving thanks reinforces the connection between us all.Being appreciative changes you, and by expressing it, you also change society #quote Share on X

MAUDE: I had an experience the other day that brought up for me just how meaningful it can be to let another person know that you see them and appreciate them. I was texting back and forth with a friend, when all of a sudden, right in the midst of a rather mundane text about little things we were sharing, she wrote “I just have to tell you how much I relish that you’re in my life.”

It took my breath away for a moment to receive this comment. It stopped me and turned my mind to thinking about the importance of these kinds of acknowledgments. I know my friend feels this way without her saying it, but it still had a strong impact on me to hear her state it.

You often presume that others know how you feel about them, especially those you are in deep intimate relationships with. And this is probably true a lot of the time. It is meaningful, regardless of this fact, to speak and show your appreciation, and never to take those you love for granted. Often you tend to become accustomed to those you share most deeply with, and you feel safe and comfortable with them. This can lead to a certain form of sleepwalking, rather than conscious recognition of the preciousness of those special connections.

It is so important for you to acknowledge those connections, large and small, and what they mean to you. Understanding that we are all connected is a basic underpinning to peaceful relationships. How often do you tell other people how much they mean to you?

The importance of letting people know you see and appreciate them carries into all encounters. You can make a person’s day just by saying thank you or smiling at them. These are the kinds of things you can do as you pass by. They don’t take much effort and they make a world of difference.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Local graffiti

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5 Comments on “How to Strengthen Your Relationships with Appreciation and Acknowledgment

  1. What a wonderful sharing both of you! Phil thanks for the reminder we must be vigilant in appreciating all the small gifts and nuances of every detail of our waking lives. And expressing them!

  2. Dear Maude and Phil,
    Thank you for your beautiful inspiring newsletter,
    “I see you” and appreciate you very much.
    As you said, “even though we may assume that others know how we feel about them, it is still meaningful to speak and show our gratitude.”

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