September 8, 2015

The Strange Secret To Happiness

Appreciation - Jacques de Villiers

Here’s  a hack I use to ensure my happiness (most of the time).

When you’re in the traffic have you ever slowed down and given someone a gap so that they can cut in front of you?

And, after this courtesy, have you expected a gesture of appreciation … a raised hand or a quick flick of the hazard lights?

Have you been surprised (and angry) that the driver takes the gap without even so much as a nod in your direction?

I would imagine that we have all experienced this. And, we have probably all been angry when someone doesn’t recognise us and appreciate our kind gesture.

I know I’ve felt short-changed when I haven’t had appreciation.

I think that we all crave recognition and appreciation for the things we do.

Research indicates that one of the biggest motivators for employees is recognition and appreciation … strangely enough, more so than money.

I have another take on this. If you really want to be happy, don’t expect appreciation.

I used to expect a thank you or some gesture of appreciation every time I did something nice for someone. And, when I didn’t get it my nose was put out of joint and I got on my high horse. Short version … I got angry.

I figured out quite quickly that I had two choices. Don’t do anything nice for anyone or don’t let lack of appreciation rattle me.

The second option, patently, was the smarter one. Now, I don’t (ok, seldom) expect appreciation for anything I do for others and it has been a liberating experience.

I wish I could say that I’m never disappointed when someone doesn’t show me appreciation. Unfortunately, I do from time-to-time get disappointed. I suppose it is my human condition that expects some kind of validation. But, I’m certainly less hung up about appreciation than I used to be. When I do get the rare person that shows me appreciation it is an absolute gift that makes my day.

Of course, not getting appreciation doesn’t mean that you don’t have to give appreciation. You and I should be finding every opportunity to appreciate others.

When last have you appreciated someone for an act of kindness?

There are so many opportunities to show appreciation. Off the top of my head … when your wife cooks you a meal (whether it is (the meal) amazing or not), when your husband goes to the garage and makes sure the oil is topped up, when your work colleague offers to make you a cup of coffee and when your employee does good work.

Just a pat on the back, a squeeze of the shoulder and the words, “Thank you, I appreciate what you’ve done for me”, will do wonders for your relationship with those around you.

We are more inclined to do the things that are appreciated over and over again.

So, if you want happiness, don’t expect appreciation and if you want to make others happy, give lots of appreciation.

One Comment on “The Strange Secret To Happiness

September 8, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Years ago when I studied to become a teacher, the one thing (perhaps the only thing) that stood out for me was “catch them doing something right “. Thus is incredibly powerful- just as you say in your article- the more you point out something good that a person is doing, the more they do it.

Great article, thank you Jacques


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