The Appreciation Factor

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

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Plenty To Be Thankful For

This week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s often a time for reflection and appreciation for what and who we have in our lives. 
I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’m most thankful for this year…
        1. My Dad…    He’s provided on-going support, guidance and a hug if/when needed.  (Hey everyone needs a good hug now and then!)

        2. My family (which includes my friends who I often consider family)…   For many of the same reasons.  They have listened closely, but instead of judging me, have provided candid feedback and support when I needed it most. Plus no one can make me laugh at myself more than they can.

        3. My health…  I’ve been fortunate stay healthy this year – knock on wood!

        4. Ability to Roll with the Punches (or Try to)…Today’s economy is challenging.  We’ve all been asked to make changes, sacrifices and do things we may not have thought we could or would have in the past.  At times this year I’ve gone in directions I never thought I would — some of which have proved awe-inspiring and have had great outcomes, others… not so much.  I’ve enduring challenges that seem insurmountable — but were not.  I’ve also shown a brave face when adversity came calling — proving I could carry on.  **This one is partly due to the support I’ve received from the first two on my list. 
        5. Confidence to Launch this Blog…  It was a long time ambition of mine to write more/become an author — and when it became easier to start your own blog, it was something I aspired to do. I’m so happy that I started writing The Appreciation Factor and that I’ve been lucky enough to attract and gain great new followers like you each day.

          A special thanks to those who encouraged me to take chance in the beginning and who followed me from day 1.  I’ve also enjoyed hearing about people/followers who have found and read my posts through other means, and those who have sent great ideas for new ones.  You inspire me — Keep them coming!!

What are you most thankful for??
I’d love to hear your list!

P.S.  On a related note, some companies have started to send Thanksgiving cards vs. the traditional Christmas/Holiday cards to thank me for my business/patronage this year. (So far I’ve received two and candidly would welcome this trend with open arms…))

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Lent – A Slightly Different Approach

Today starts the first day of Lent, the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  For those of you who might not know…  Lent as described by Wikipedia, is traditionally marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance, (regret for and amending of our sins) for 40 days.  Many who observe Lent may fast or give up favorite things like chocolates, alcohol or swearing, others may attend church services more regularly to renew their faith.

After speaking with my minister a few years ago, I have taken a slightly different tack when it comes to Lent.  Rather than giving up luxury items or fasting, I try to be a better person in my treatment, care, and interaction of/with others for those 40 days.     

 Some examples of how I’ve participated in Lent have been:

  • Working at my local food bank   
    I’ve continued doing this to this day
  • Taking the higher road/giving the benefit of doubt when faced with adversity
    I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  Perhaps their anger or rudeness is not really about me (even though may seem like it).  Perhaps he/she is just having a really bad day and I’m in front of them.  Reacting to their rudeness or anger it may only escalate it or extend it to others later in the day.  Same goes for someone who cuts me off. I try to think that they are in a bigger hurry than me.  (Note:  Candidly, this perspective doesn’t always work, but I do try to put it into practice when I can!)
  • Practicing random acts of kindness
    I’ve added change to an expiring meter, helped someone up the stairs, and simply just held the door open for someone else.
  • Appreciating the things that I have in my life vs. the things that I do not
    I’ve found this last one harder at times to accept, because there are times I’ve yearned for things that I wanted vs. needed.  So perhaps in retrospect, this is the one I should really focus on during each Lenten season and beyond because it talks about giving things up.

Maybe I’m taking more of a modern twist on the whole Lenten season or I’m missing the point.  I’m just not sure I see the value or what I would truly take away from just giving up my favorite foods for 40 days when I know that I can have them again in March or April.  Perhaps this true appreciation and the act of helping is a better way to look at this time of year, at least for me.  I know it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in making my community and my world a better place.  And hey, if I can continue to do these things beyond the allocated 40 days, all the better.

If you’re celebrating Lent this year, what will be your approach?

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Count Your Blessings – Even the Small Things Matter

While reading one of my LinkedIn Group e-letters today, I came across this great 21 Day Happiness Challenge.  It falls right in line with what I talk to and am focused on in this blog, appreciating the people, things and opportunities around you.  I couldn’t help but share this great story.

Tory Johnson, of Spark & Hustle  and also known for her Good Morning America Deals, posted a challenge on her Facebook page.  It was sparked when she received negative comments after she congratulated Madonna on her Superbowl appearance, (Why Trash Madonna).  In the post she was “stunned when [she] posted “Go Madonna!” on [her] Facebook wall and several people trashed the Material Girl’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl.”  She went on to argue that while everyone can have an opinion, it seemed that some went out of their way to be negative.  I agree.

In part, I started this blog to share some of the positives in this world and how we can look at things in a different light or should pause when faced with a challenge or negative perception.  Today so much of what we hear or experience focuses on negativity (just think about your nightly news).  I’d rather share ways of how to stop and look around us and appreciate what’s in front of us or focus on what we’re grateful in those moments of negativity or adversity.  And baring that, perhaps all it would take to turn around that moment or day would be to do something for someone else or acknowledge what they bring to your life/how they helped today.  Something to consider don’t you think?

In the 21 Day Happiness Challenge,  Ms. Johnson wants her followers to share three little or big things that they are grateful for each day, for 21-days, which by the way is statistically how long it takes us to create a long-term habit.  She wants people to focus the things that they can appreciate versus assuming nothing went well or that everything went wrong.  It will be interesting to see the results.

While the Challenge officially started on February 7th and ends February 27th, I think that this should be something we consider putting into practice beyond that “end” date/21 days.  Why not count your blessings about the things that you appreciate on a daily basis?  Or even better yet, recognize verbally or through writing who you appreciate and why?  

Did you know that research has shown that we are 31% more successful when we’re happy and that we have optimized brain function when we think positively?    

Here are the three things I’m grateful for today:
1.  Finding this article to further remind myself that each and every day I can find something to be grateful for even on the tough ones
2.  The positive feedback I received today on my blog
3.  Having a chance to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather today. (It felt like it was at least 50 degrees!)

I’m also going to add one more for today. (Hey, it was an especially good day!)
4.  Having a client say that he recommended me to another business owner just because he was so happy with my work and not because I’d asked him to

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I’ve created this blog to discuss appreciation in many forms, whether it be appreciation of the small things in life, appreciating others both on a personal or in the workplace, or how you can show your appreciation.  Whenever possible, I’ll link to other relevant blogs and articles that either support or contrast my point of view.

I’ll post as often as I can, and as the spirit moves me.  Please feel free to suggest topics or questions about appreciation.

I hope you like what you see and that you’ll follow me.