My daughter was terribly excited about making me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. It was all her idea and she was very decided about it. When the day finally came I let her loose in the kitchen under the supervision of my partner.
With an enormous smile of pride on her face she served me two types of cheese with corn on toast.
Perhaps it’s the makings of a new craze in breakfast. It might even dethrone the famed avocado and feta smash. Or not.
It doesn’t really matter. What mattered was she made a genuine effort to show me that she loved and appreciated me.
Science shows that feelings like gratitude and appreciation set off a cascade of feel-good neurotransmitters in our brain. It feels good to do good. It also feels good to tell others that what they did made you feel good. And it feels good to hear that what you did made someone feel good.
It’s an all-round win:win really. Whether you’re showing appreciation or feeling appreciated.
The problem is that sometimes we don’t always, or easily, recognise when someone is trying to show us they appreciate us. That’s because we all have different ways of showing we care – be that words, gestures, actions, gifts, quality time etc (Gary Chapman, 1995). And if the way we show appreciation doesn’t line up with the other person, things can easily go awry.
What might start out as a genuine effort to do good or be kind could be completely misconstrued.
If I was judging breakfast in terms of the avocado-and-feta-smash-trend, then my daughters innovative and novel take on breakfast might seem completely outlandish and something café society isn’t quite ready for. But looking at breakfast as the results of some incredibly creative thinking on the part of a little girl working with a poorly stocked fridge and her sheer determination to make mum breakfast in bed – well, this leads one to an entirely different conclusion.
What’s useful here is stepping outside of our own world view when it comes to what we define as “good” and simply stepping back to observe the intention behind someone’s words and actions.
Then recognise and value that for what it is.
If we all did this just a little more often at work, we might even have better working relationships with those around us.
Think about someone you work with.
What opportunity do you have to tell or show them you really appreciate them?
For more information refer to:
The Neuroscience of Gratitude
Giving Thanks can make you feel happier
The Five Languages of Love, Gary Chapman 1995