The Appreciation Factor

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


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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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The Appreciation Factor’s Turns 5!

5th-anniversary

Today is the The Appreciation Factor’s 5th Anniversary!  

Wow! Who knew when I started this blog in 2012 that I would still be here 5 years later. Well….I’d hoped I’d still be here, but you know best intentions and all of that. Here we are, 80+ posts later.

When I started out, I knew that I wanted to create a blog about a topic I was passionate about, so it started with talking about the importance of writing Thank you notes. However, I wasn’t sure that there would be enough content around just writing about thank you notes and I decided to expand it to “sharing appreciation,” but truly it became the overarching topic of appreciation.  I also knew that to some degree I couldn’t worry about whether others disagreed with me or not.  As I’ve stated in the “about me” page, I primarily write to share my passion about appreciation and gratitude, but I also want to offer a point of view that you may not have considered, or tips to help you share your appreciation.

I’ve been really happy to find ways to expand on my “how to write”/”why write thank you notes” posts to cover Things I Appreciate, like Día de los Muertosfall, beach etiquette, my fitness quest (still going strong by the way!), New Jersey and many more. You may have also seen two posts where I was fortunate to partner with others.  The first as a guest blogger on The Cutie Life, and more recently where I featured etiquette coach, Janet Parnes.  Both were extremely rewarding and I’m in talks with other bloggers and professionals to do more!

Two other additions to the blog that have become favorites of mine are Thankful Thursdays where I curate stories and/or videos that I feel exemplify appreciation, have moved me, or talk about people making a difference; and the second where I write about showing appreciation, especially in the form of Random Acts of Kindness (ROAKs) and promoting Giving Tuesday.  Both I are causes anyone can do, and both help make the world a better place.
The Future

I hope to continue to share some fresh posts on the topics above, and come up with new ones. Part of the challenge fun about having a blog is that you can come up with new features, approaches or even a new direction.  I hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride as I go into my 5th year, as well as share my posts with others, on your blogs or via Social Media, or not… as I’m content to have you simply read and enjoy them.  I’m appreciative of all of my followers, and really at the end of the day, if I’ve made you think about something in a new way, or supported a viewpoint you already have, then I’ve already done what I’d hoped to do.

 

Content/Compensation Free:

One additional thing that I wanted to clarify.  At times I will promote a brand, site, product etc.  At this time, The Appreciation Factor is not written for financial gain. I write it to support my passion for all things appreciation and writing.  I am not paid, nor do I receive any products to talk about. Candidly I have considered this option and I’m not against this approach as I’ve thought about a post/partnering with a paper company or another service that promoted appreciation, gratitude and thanks yous, but to date, I have not.  Should this ever change, I will absolutely let you know, and be very clear about it in the post.
What this means: Unless I state otherwise, all opinions are mine and I’m not compensated for any links or clicks you make on The Appreciation Factor.  Feel free click without worry and the ability to see that related content on a separate tab. (A pet peeve of mine are posts that take me away from the content I’m reading just to sell me something. Perhaps that’s how one is “supposed to do it”, but it’s just not for me.) I hope this encourages you to click, read, and share to your heart’s content.

 

Please, please, please don’t hesitate to also share your ideas. While I’m always searching the internet and news for stories and topics, I may miss something. Let me know if you see something you think I should share or a topic I should cover. I love hearing from my followers.

 

Best wishes, and many thanks to each of you. Here’s to 5 more years! (Hey I can dream can’t I?)

K

 


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Gratitude… it’s a choice

Another early am rise and I was inspired once again, this time by Nataly, the CEO and co-founder of Happier.

Have you heard of Happier? It’s a site and app that was created to help you find more joy in your life.  You can read posts on their site or use the app to capture and share the small moments that occur each day that make you happier. Plus they offer courses to help you “add more joy to your life.”

I primarily use the website site, being a non-smart-phone user, but often find little gems when I visit. Today found a great quote that really resonated with last week’s post about my goals, especially the one where I planned to list something I’m grateful for each week.

If you recall, I’d talked about how it can feel challenging to be grateful when things seem bleakest.  At times, even I have found it hard to remember that there is much to feel grateful for and to share my appreciation of what I have. So you can imagine that when I saw the quote by Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast, which Nataly heard in an Anatomy of Gratitude podcast, how powerful it was for me.

Gratitude Quote

This quote took some of the pressure off to feel infinitely grateful or happy about all things, all of the time. It said to me, that I can be grateful for and share my appreciation of the smallest thing, something that may only relate to one small moment of time, vs. the sum of everything I may be experiencing, going through or what’s affecting me by outside forces.

So remember, it’s OK to feel challenged to feel hugely grateful or even happy when things look quite bleak from your perspective, as long as you find that one thing.  That one thing IS there if you look hard enough, and make the choice to look for and acknowledge it.

I’m actually also quite confident that once you find that one thing, you’ll likely find at least one additional thing to be grateful and happy about. Maybe you’ll even share those two things and create a ripple effect for others to feel and/or share.

 

What do you think about David Steindl-Rast statement?   Do you believe you can find something to be grateful for even when things seem their darkest?
What one thing are you grateful for or happy about in this moment?

 


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How Will You Contribute/Share Your Kindness?

Friday, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. 

I’ve been looking forward to this day for almost a year, having just missed it last year. Not be deterred, I printed a reminder and put it in my new day timer right away.

I know this blog is about Appreciation first and foremost, but I’ve always felt that kindness can beget gratitude/appreciation, and that showing/expressing our gratitude can also trigger kindness. Kind of makes a nice circle don’t you think?

 

Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

World Kindness Day, was first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  This group’s primary objective is to “foster goodwill among the broad community – local, national, and international – by way of kindness and in so doing, create greater understanding and cooperation between all people and all nations throughout the world.”  (You may be familiar with one of the US delegates, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.)

 

All in all, it’s a day to inspire individuals to share kindness
and strive to create a kinder world.

 

 

What can I do?

On this day, I encourage you to show kindness to your friends, family, loved ones, colleagues and strangers.  Your act can be big or small. Really anything that shows your appreciation or kindness to another person will do.  I’ve been planning on what I’m going to do on the 13th for a while, but have put together a list of 12 things that may help inspire you to take part in this truly special day. (FYI: The tasks I’m going to do are those in Green.)  Here’s a list of actions you can take:

1. Write 5 Thank you notes to those who have made an impact on my life or have recently helped me  (You didn’t actually think I could forego my tried and true way to share my appreciation. These notes will also be more of the Just Because type vs. due to a recent interview or act of assistance.)  Like this idea, but need help writing one? Visit these 2 of my prior posts for tips:

PB Envelope & TY CardWriting a Memorable Personal Thank you note

Writing a Just Because Note

2.  Feed meters or pay for someone’s coffee. (I don’t drink coffee so the latter half of this is harder for me personally. I did do it once, though I did not stick around to see the recipient or if the barista simply drank it.)

3.  Make food and distribute to office mates or friends – It’s best to share with someone who knows and trusts you vs. a stranger. (Be sure to include the recipe!)

4.  Surprise someone in your network with a reference on LinkedIn.  You likely have many in your LI network or otherwise whom you could write a glowing recommendation.
So often it’s their request that prompts us to help, why not surprise her/him before they have to ask. (You can also offer to provide/write one even if you’re not on LinkedIn.)
Idea courtesy of
Jenn of Work Wonders Coaching.Jar of Hearts

5.  Put 25 – 50 paper hearts or smiley faces in a box/jar. On the back of each one, write something that is special about your lover or a good friend. Give her/him the box and tell her to pull out a heart or smiley face anytime she gets lonely or wants a pick me up.

6.  Have an Amazon account?  Did you know that you can donate money to your favorite US non-profit through Amazon Smile.  Amazon will donate 5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. I just set this up and it took less than a minute!

7.  Since World Kindness day is so close to Veteran’s Day – Send a special note to a veteran, soldier or wounded military personnel. If you don’t know any personally, here are two links to make a connection:

Write a letter to a deployed or wounded member of the military through Operation Gratitude. Soldiers say that’s the most meaningful part of care packages they receive.

On Facebook?  You can send your thanks to military members through Military Facebook pages.

8.  Say thank you to those that you see every day, but whom may not work “with” you.  Everyone is important from the office security guard and the person at the front desk to the mailroom clerk and cleaning staff.  Get to know their names and greet them by name. It also never hurts to say thanks for their services as you likely would have a completely different office without them. Plus we all like to feel that our efforts are appreciated.

9.  Looking for something on the Internet?  Instead of simply turning to that popular search site, use Goodsearch to search the internet, play games or answer survey questions.  50% of their ad revenue and/or 1 cent for every search is donated to charity.

10.  Printing some coupons before you go on a shopping spree? Print out a few extra (when you can) and bring them along.  You can surreptitiously leave them in the store for others to find, or hand out to a fellow customer who looks like they could use one for their purchases.

11.  Create some inspirational quotes or signs and place them around the office or in your colleagues’ work spaces.  You never know when someone may need that pick-me-up.

12.  Make an impact for those who need help by visiting Free Rice, a United Nations Food Program that donates rice to hungry people when you interact with the web site. 

 

 

It’s Good for You!

Now of course, while I want to promote World Kindness Day, I do believe that showing kindness deserves more than just one day to share or celebrate it. Kindness and gratitude should be shared as much as possible, all year-long.  Plus did you know that it’s been scientifically proven to be beneficial to do so?  A great reference I found was Amy Morin’s Forbes article about 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude.  Here are my top three from the article:

  • Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.
  • Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people…
  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends…

 

Inspired?
Will you celebrate World Kindness Day and help make the world a kinder place?
What ideas to you have to show your kindness, random or deliberate? Share them with me and my followers!


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Thankful Thursdays – July 16th Edition

Happy July everyone.  Today I have four great links to share with you that will help beat the heat and hopefully inspire you — several were passed along from friends and followers of my blog.

So sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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What if You’re Not “Thankful”?

I’ve written posts at The Appreciation Factor about why you should write thank you notes, and provided tips on writing business and personal thank you notes. However I’ve recently been asked about what to do when you know you should write one, but aren’t 100% thankful.

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