The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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10 Easy Ways to Share Kindness on World Kindness Day (It’s today 11/13!)

November is such a caring month.  Not only do we have Thanksgiving at the end of the month, it’s also #NationalGratitudeMonth, and today we have one of my favorite “celebrations,” #WorldKindnessDay.

I’m sure many of you have felt like me, and have seen a lot of negativity getting spread in the world today. Candidly, there are times that if I didn’t have to be on/use social media in my professional life, I might stop using all together.  Still, I know that there is good out there.  I have friends that remind me of this fact often, strangers that go out of their way to be friendly, and acquaintances who have helped simply because I asked.

When it comes down to it, we can make a difference
simply by focusing on the small things

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November is National Gratitude Month

There seems to be a great partnership with #NationalGratitudeMonth and well the month that has Thanksgiving… but as I always say, why share gratitude and appreciation only one day of the year? You should share it every day.

Showing gratitude or appreciation really only takes a moment but the effects can be life changing or at least resonate well beyond the moment you share it.  However words can lose meaning if they’re just words. Be sure when you express your gratitude you do it sincerely, or show it through heartfelt actions.

In honor of National Gratitude Month and celebrating what The Appreciation Factor is all about…

Here are 30 ideas to show your gratitude this month (1 for each day):

  1. Keep a gratitude journal or jot down 1-3 things your grateful for each day  Remember, gratitude starts with you. If you’re not appreciating yourself or the things around, it’s harder to be grateful for other things and/or other people. I love the Happiness Planner there’s a space to provide things you are grateful for each day and/or each week.
  2. Write at least 1 thank you note per week this month
    • Ideas: Colleagues, a provider (e.g., think your exercise coach, Barre3 instructor, personal trainer or even the mailman who always puts your packages under the bench to keep them hidden), your local librarian, a friend who always just seems to be there, and/or family members are just a few who I know would appreciate a heart-felt note.
  3. Create 10 www.kindnessrocks.org rocks and place them around your neighborhood  While the movement started on the beach, I recently found one in my neighborhood (not at all near the beach) and the message was so important for me to read at that time.  That rock now sits prominently on my window sill.
  4. Create a holiday card list  Compile a list of everyone whom may have helped you this year; it can even include your boss.  Getting ready now means you can beat the holiday rush and mail these out either around Thanksgiving or at the very beginning of December to cut through the clutter and make an impact.
  5.  Volunteer  Find and organization that is meaningful to you and see if you can lend a hand. Many groups have annual events that you can help staff. You can also help them with a mailing or make deliveries. How and where you help is really up to you.  *I do recommend that you find an organization that you can stick with – at least for a year or two. The longer you volunteer, the more responsibilities you may be given.
    • Not sure who’s looking for volunteers? Try www.volunteermatch.org which matches you with local organizations based upon your ZIP code and across multiple categories.
  6. Clean up We’ve all come across trash/debris during our day.  Keep a garbage bag in your trunk or backpack and pick up the litter when you see in on your walk or commute. You’re saying thanks to your town/environment by keeping it a little cleaner and greener.
  7. Donate a book(s) to a Little Free Library We’ve all been there. We’re cleaning up our home/apartment and come across books we’ve read and just don’t have the room for anymore. Consider a neighborhood Little Free Library for these gems. The concept is that anyone can take a book and/or leave a book.  Check out the link above for locations that are near you, or ask to create one in your neighborhood or town.
  8. Donate food to a food pantry  Be grateful for your ability to buy or have food on the table by sharing food with those who may need that extra help each month.
  9. “Buy” Make Lunch/Dinner  Keeping food allergies and preferences in mind, make or buy lunch/dinner for a friend. This is even better when it’s a surprise.  It’s different way to say rather than simply sending a note or sharing it verbally.
  10. Donate your clothing/household items   You can select the charity you prefer, but why not give life to your gently used items by donating them. (Just a FYI: Goodwill accepts all kinds of fabric scraps — from the one sock, to ripped T’s they make things from these miscellaneous items and ship them around the world.)
  11. Create a “Honey it’s what you Do” list  Most have heard of a “Honey Do” list where you list chores and tasks you want our significant other to help you with. Instead, create a list of all of the things that make him/her special to you. 
  12. Social shout out In a world that’s become fixated on social media, share your gratitude,  recommendation and/or shout out on social for friends and colleagues to see. Everyone likes to be recognized!
  13. Send a small meaningful gift  Keeping meaningful in mind, find a small token to show your appreciation for a friend, family member, colleague or provider. Pick something that they’ve had their eye one, one that will make them smile and/or something that they like to do. e.g., I have a friend who is addicted to iTunes.  I bought a $5 card for her to buy a couple of songs to add to her collection.
  14. Reach out and touch someone – via the phone So often we text our conversations.  Instead, pick up the phone and make it more personal with a call.
  15. Say thank you  Some things that people do for us may seem like their job or expected. However, saying thank you to the checkout girl, sales associate, or your boss will be noticed and appreciated.
  16. Provide a Recommendation/Referral Provide an unsolicited, positive recommendation on LinkedIn, or offer to be a reference for a new job. Don’t wait to be asked, make the offer instead.
  17. Call out great service to a manager Whether it be in the retail store or at the office, making a point to call out – and be specific as possible – how someone has helped you to their manager is huge. So often managers only hear the complaints. When you are praising their employees, in a small way, you’re also praising their management. It’s a two-fer!
  18. Write a thank you note to a service member Being in combat or in the field can be a lonely, challenging and scary place. They may love making a difference but they miss those here at home.  A note from a stranger thanking them for their contributions can brighten what may at times feel like a bleak situation.  Operation Gratitude is just one organization that can help you can share your thanks with the troops.
  19. Pick/Buy Flowers  Pick a bouquet (if out of your own yard of course!) or buy a small bunch at a florist or Trader Joe’s. Nothing perks up a day like a thank you via flowers!
  20. Help a family member or friend do something they need (even if it’s not something you enjoy) There are always those tasks that no one likes to do, but as their friend or family member, lighten the load and let them know you care by helping them out.  (e.g., raking leaves, cleaning the house (you could clean 1 room) etc.)
  21. Say you’re sorry  Being grateful also means that you care enough to say sorry when you’re in the wrong/have hurt someone.
  22. Make a gift The most appreciated gifts can be those that are homemade. Again, identify something that would be meaningful to the recipient. Do they like the beach? Make a shell collage from their favorite location.
  23. Visit  Like our penchant for texts vs. calling, actual in-person visits are going by the way side. Find time to spend with a family member or friend and truly be in the moment with him/her. *Note this means putting down your phone while you do!
  24. Do the dishes or make dinner without being asked Instead of a trade-off (I cook, you clean), simply take over the clean-up or cooking.
  25. Lighten the load  Offer to take on a colleague’s project if appropriate.  You know you would appreciate the help if it were offered.
  26. Write yourself a “love” letter As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to appreciate yourself. Take 20 minutes to really call out what makes you special and unique from everyone else. (It’s OK to brag here.) It’s a great way to give yourself a boost if you’re feeling less than spectacular – today or in the future.
  27. Tell someone that they make the world a better place What a powerful statement to hear!
  28. Provide a Loan If you’re able, loan someone some money that s/he may need without the expectation of having it paid back. Or loan a tool/book or other object, again without expecting him/her to return it.
  29. Bake something Bake a sweet or savory treat for someone to show how much you care.
  30. Celebrate a tradition or holiday that you may not already celebrate but someone you care about does.  Diversity is important, and respecting and supporting traditions and holidays that are important to those you care about shows your respect and gratitude for having them in your life.

WOW 30 ideas!  Are you inspired?  Don’t fret if you’ve come across this post after November 1st or even months from now.  You don’t need a special day or month to share gratitude and appreciation.  If you read this in mid-November, many of these ideas are easy to do and you can accomplish more than one in one day if your goal is to complete 30.  However, I strongly recommend that you pick those ideas above (or create your own) that are most meaningful to you or things that you’d like to do (or things you don’t really like to do #19,) which show you care.

On December 1st, count up how many tasks you completed.  How many did you cross off?  I bet your outlook on life and attitude in general has improved! I know I’ve attracted great things and am happier when I’ve taken more time to share and experience gratitude for things and people around me.

 

So how about it – who’s joining me in #30DaysofGratitude and celebrating #NationalGratitudeMonth?
Share your ideas and what you did for others in the comments below! I can’t wait to read them!


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Have You Said Thank You Lately?

If not, today is definitely the day to do it.  It’s National Thank you Day!

Sometimes I think that there are holiday’s custom-made for The Appreciation Factor, and if so, this is surely one of them.   As one of the biggest proponents of expressing my appreciation and saying thanks, this day speaks volumes. Of course, for those of you who know me well, we shouldn’t require a “holiday” dedicated to appreciation to be the only time and/or reason to say thanks, but if it helps… I’ll take it!

Does Saying Thanks Make a Difference?

Saying thank you is powerful.  It can bring joy.  It can immediately disarm someone who’s feeling under appreciated.  It can also provide validation for the hard work.  I even read a great article that said showing appreciation to your employees will subconsciously make them work harder for you and increase their longevity at the company.  I know I try harder when a boss has told me that I’ve done a good job.

I think this is why it always puzzles me when these comments come up, “You’re paid to do a good job,” and “They are supposed to do X so why should I thank them?”   I don’t ever think that monetary compensation or the fact that a task/chore is something a person is supposed to do should be a reason not say thank you. Nor do I think that others always intuitively know that you are grateful unless you say something.  People thrive on praise and often strive to feel worthy. Saying thank you or sending a thank you note is a great way to acknowledge their help, and to help them achieve those goals.

 

Thanks Aren’t Necessary…. That’s probably not 100% True

I’m sure you’ve met someone who’s said, “It’s OK, I don’t need any thanks,” but likely it’s not 100% true. If you agree with Dr. Laura Trice (in the TED Talk below), people may say this simply because admitting that they need and want to feel appreciated and praised would be sharing their deep-seeded insecurities/needs.  I would propose that these people would appreciate it if you  shared your gratitude for the help, support, or kind act.

 

On this National Thank You Day, I’m pledging to write and/or say thank you to those who are making a difference in my life, supporting my goals I’m also going to make sure that I go out of my way to thank those for the simpler things, like the stranger who holds the door for you, or the librarian who took a few extra minutes to help find that “must read book”.  So how about it?  Today on #NationalThankYouDay take that extra minute and say thanks.  I KNOW it will make a difference in someone’s day.

And a tip:  If you’re on the receiving end, be sure to say “You’re Welcome.” So often we counter with “No problem,” “It’s OK,” or “Don’t Worry About it,” but whatever we’ve done did help someone and it make a difference.  So it’s better to graciously acknowledge the thanks and move on.

 

Want to Make Your Thank You Extra Special?  

Send a handwritten thank you note. (Always my preferred method of showing gratitude.)  These are some of the cards I’m using these days.  Many have “Thank you” incorporated on the card itself, but if you recall Janet Parnes, the etiquette expert’s advice it’s actually better to NOT have “Thank you” imprinted. So I sometimes use these lovely gold embossed initial cards below that I received for Christmas.

 

 

 

Card Details:

Thanks a Ton:  This cutie is from Red + Wolfe, an eco-friendly paper company that gives $1 per card sold to wildlife conservation. For all of you Bostonian followers, this owner/maker, Rachel Mott sells her cards at SOWA markets and at several specialty boutiques in the South End. (I’m planning to feature her in the blog soon so keep a look out).

 

Thank You with gold embossed starfish: Picked up these gems at #Marshalls.  They’re a part of Graphic de France’s La Petite Presse line.  They are so cute that I almost hated to use them!

 

Gold Hand Engraved Initial K:  Available in every letter of the alphabet, these are from Crane 

 

 

**Need tips on writing a powerful thank you note? Check out this post or this one.

What is the most memorable thank you you’ve ever received?
Do you have a go to card/stationery/shop you turn to when you write a thank you note?

I’m always looking for new options!


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Send a Little Love – 30 Day Letter Challenge

This gem is a share/inspiration from Mail More Love’s/Devoted Diarist’s Rhea Abramson. Since stumbling across her blog a few months ago during National Letter Writing Month (April), I’ve been an avid reader and follower of her blog and Instagram posts.

*Check out the Instagram account (Devoted Diarist) for her envelope artwork – I want one!   You’ll also likely be inspired by some of the card designs (and designers) she features! I know I was. (DearHancock anyone? Love those bunnies!)

While I haven’t quite taken on the 30 day challenge, (I’m struggling to find 30 people to write to, or 20 for that matter!) I love this idea. As a lover of sharing appreciation and all things handwritten… I WILL find a way to participate. (She has great tips in putting everything in reach!) It just may not be this month/summer.

Without further ado, Rhea’s recent post on a Summer Letter Writing Challenge  (Thanks Rhea!)

 

 

I began my foray into writing a letter every day with a 30 day snail mail challenge back in July of 2015. Here is a FLIPGRAM of the 30 days. That adventure filled my world with gems I never expected to encounter. My own stationery business, a snail mate, friends near and far, a Letter […]

via Summer Letter Writing Challenge — Mail More Love


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Thankful Thursdays -June 22nd Edition

Happy summer!  I’ve been looking forward to the first day of summer for a long time. As I said to someone yesterday on the phone, I may like the first day of summer even more than my birthday!

 

I’ve got some great Thankful Thursday stories to share today.  You’ll note that two are around writing; I was more inspired by National Stationary Month than I realized.  Two others focus on middle schoolers really stepping up.  As you know, Thankful Thursdays are stories, people, companies, and videos that move me, and which exemplify appreciation, kindness, or those making a difference in the world.  These five stories really spoke to me and I hope they’ll speak to you too!

As an added bonus that’s in honor of summer, I’ve included a refreshing non-alcoholic drink, Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca, courtesy of the How Sweet It Is blog.

 

We’re Really Just All the Same

I found this on Twitter in May, and it still moves me every time I watch it.  A girl in Birmingham, England came to school with a new prosthetic blade.  How did her classmates react?

Watch this video to find out:

Thanks to www.someecards.com for this story

 

 

They Say Middle School Can Be Cruel, But This One has Kindness In It

We’ve all known that group in middle school who always has the best and most expensive things and who seem to look down on those who don’t.  In this case, one who had a lot, shared a lot more.   Instead of continuing to allow a younger classmate to be bullied and made fun of, an 8th grade boy gave a 6th grader a pair of his Air Jordan’s that he’d only worn a few times! (FYI: Some Air Jordan’s cost over $125!)
His parting comment: “…remember this day for the rest of your life.  No matter how many bad people there are, there are always people that will help you in the long run.” WOW! Such wise words from an 8th grader.

Click this link to read the whole story.

 

 

A Letter Makes A Difference – Girls Love Mail

Ever since National Stationery Month in April, I’ve candidly become a bit obsessed with cards and letter writing – much more so than what I expound upon here at The Appreciation Factor. I’ve told you in the past how much impact a handwritten note can have, so you’ll quickly see why, this story about Girls Love Mail, an organization that sends handwritten notes of encouragement to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, made such an impact on me.

 

I think I’m going to have to write a few letters myself for Girls Love Mail and join their 2017 Miles of Mail campaign (as of this post, Girls Love Mail is on Lap 2 with over 9,400 letters received, and over 92,000 have received a letter since the group’s founding in 2011!)  Truly, when more has a letter meant so much?

 

 

Putting a Spin on a Serious Topic

While you may have distinct opinions on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and it’s depiction of a girl who commits suicide and who she blames, I promise this is not story is not a downer.

Much has been said about 13 Reasons Why and how it glamorizes suicide.  I personally did not have that take away but I know younger audiences could walk away with different ideas from this program. This is why I wanted to share a story of Oxford, Michigan, who turned the story around to be, 13 Reasons Why Not.  The school wanted to address suicide, bullying, depression and other challenges teens face, with a positive twist.  Select students from Oxford High School were picked to tell their story and to thank a friend/friends for bringing hope and inspiration to their lives.

You can listen to this NPR Youth Radio feature: 13 Reasons Why Not (Listen here).

 

Rocks Can Make a Difference

One pile found on Martha’s Vineyard. Source: Backwater Trading Co.

Ever a fan of acts of kindness, this one won me over immediately. It’s probably because I also collect rocks – primarily heart-shaped rocks, but still find a nice rock can really make my beach day – even one without any writing on it.  The thought of finding one with an inspirational message… wow!

It all started when Meagan Murphy wrote some inspirational messages for friends on rocks she found on her local Cape Cod beach.  Inspired by the positive reactions she received, she started leaving inspiration rocks for strangers to hind on her local beach.  So many people were moved by them, that they started to leave their own.

Now formally, The Kindness Rocks Project (www.thekindnessrocksproject.com) it’s expanded across the US and rocks have been left/found in over 10 countries!
There are two goals of The Kindness Rocks Project:
1.  Inspire others through randomly placed rocks along the way
2.  Recruit every person who stumbles upon one to join in the pursuit of inspiring others through random acts of kindness.

What a great reminder to always act as kindly as possible, and share inspiration in places one may not expect it.

How can you get involved?  Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate – no registration is needed.  Simply decorate a rock and leave it for the next person to find. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

 

And as a special treat a recipe courtesy of Jessica Merchant of How Sweet it Is

Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca (frozen non-alcoholic drink)

Source: How Sweet It Is (Jessica Merchant)

Serves: 4         Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
– 1/2 Large Watermelon, Seeded and Cubed (about 4 cups)
– 1/2 Cup freshly squeezed lime juice
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest, plus extra for topping
– 3 Tablespoons sugar
– Pinch of salt
– 4 Cups Ice
– Garnish: Lime and Watermelon wedges

Directions:

I’ve tried this and it’s Ahhhhhmazing! Can’t wait for the really good summer watermelon to come out! I’m also thinking about adding some Mint to this too!  Let me know what you think!

What did you think of this issue of Thankful Thursdays?

Have a link you want to share for my next issue of Thankful Thursdays – Share it in the comments section.


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Put the Phone Down

While this may not be popular to say, I have to say something.

I’m not big on smartphones, nor candidly, the biggest smartphone user. I don’t text all that often and can’t stand it when I receive one- or two-word texts or even four texts to convey something that could have sent as a single text.  And don’t even get me started on the emoji only texts.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to cell phones, in fact, sometimes there’s nothing more I enjoy than calling up a friend and catching up on the fly.  But… I primarily prefer to use the phone to call people, not to do the myriad of other things that you can do with it. Perhaps I’m missing out, but I’m not inclined to think so.

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Thankful Thursdays the April 27th Edition

There have been unfortunately several days this month, where I’ve been a bit uncertain, the path rocky, and unknown. However, as I’ve navigated my way towards what will hopefully surely can be only better days ahead, stories like these always lift me up and inspire me. They also reignite the gratitude I have for those around me and for those who support me. Thanks for stopping by for this issue of:

 

Thankful Thursdays

Stories, People, Companies, and Videos that move me and which exemplify appreciation, kindness, or those making a difference in our world. 

 

Boston Marathon

source: ABC/WCVB

In New England, April is synonymous with the Boston Marathon. Everyone shows their hometown spirit and they are extra friendly to visitors.  Patience abounds.

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