Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Simple Yet Mighty Gifts of Acceptance & Affirmation

The Simple Yet Mighty Gifts 
of Acceptance & Affirmation

Dear friends,

At age 50, as part of my year of Pilgrimage and Jubilee, I’m looking back at my meandering life path. I’m amazed at how many times that simple, subtle gift of acceptance and affirmation from another human being – whether close friend or random stranger – has created not just a ripple effect but a surge of change.  Appreciation and admiration carry this even further.

I could share dozens of personal examples, but it would take too long for you to understand the context and the significance, and some of the stories are just too personal. I am brought to tears just thinking of one chain of events sent into massive domino effect by a single conversation. (It’s still going, years later.) What moves me even more is to think that because of this, I dug deeper into my faith, took a hard look at my life trajectory, and found my voice just when I needed it most. That in turn had a powerful effect in the lives of even more people, some of whom I have never met. What will they do with that?  Where will it go from there?

What about these little ideas with potentially big results? How many have blessed you when someone else did them? How many can you do this week, starting today?

  1. Write a thank you letter to someone whose acceptance and affirmation has made a difference to you.
  2. Say “I love you” and “I know you can do it” and “I’m proud of you” and “you are so special” often.
  3. Make eye contact, even if you are “too busy” at the moment.
  4. Hug your child every day and tell how much you love being their parent.
  5. Call your parents and siblings to say how much you appreciate all they have done for you.
  6. Display your child's art work in a prominent place.
  7. Pay for supplies, equipment, or class tuition for a family member to pursue building skills in an area where they show aptitude or talent.  Your investment is a vote of confidence in their abilities.  If you don’t know exactly what to buy, get a gift card to a store that specializes in that area.
  8. Share a web link in an area of interest, showing that you notice what makes them tick.
  9. Write a favorable on-line review for a product or service.
  10. Tell your spouse what you appreciate from the last day, like balancing the checkbook or fixing a favorite meal or even fixing any meal at all.  The mundane daily things count, too!
  11. Compliment your child in the presence of others.
  12. Congratulate or compliment a friend or family member on even a small success.
  13. Have a celebration dinner for a special accomplishment.
  14. Ask for advice, which acknowledges their expertise.
  15. Jot a personal note to someone you know is discouraged telling how much you admire who they are and how they are handling their difficulties.
  16. Acknowledge, “You are right,” when it’s true, even and especially if it’s during a conflict.
  17. Ask “What do you mean by that? Help me understand what you are thinking.”
  18. Choose a thoughtful gift to say how special this person is to you – and not just for a special occasion.
  19. Leave a “secret admirer” surprise.
  20. Include someone outside of the usual “inner circle” in your group plans so they can get to know others better.
  21. Create a photo album (tangible or digital) of special moments you have shared.
  22. Speak a kind word to a hardworking store employee or a mom with toddlers in the checkout line.
  23. Write a list of things you admire about someone.  A friend gave me a list of 50 on my 50th birthday – what an amazing gift!
  24. Slip an affirmation into a child’s or spouse’s lunch.
  25. Tape a note to the bathroom mirror or write it with dry erase markers.
  26. Write a personal reference for a student or employee.
  27. Smile and a wave across the room – because you’re happy to see them! Then walk over for a chat.
  28. Write a letter to your favorite author with an explanation of how their book has touched your life.
  29. Show your excitement about good news – even if you are jealous! 
  30. Leave a positive comment on a blog post.
  31. Take a friend or family member to lunch to nurture your relationship – even if it is going on an inexpensive picnic.
  32. Make amends with someone you have offended, to let them know they are important to you and you want to rebuild the relationship.

Try these! You might never even know how many lives you affect.  

As I wrote this, I noticed overlap from a broader list I wrote last week about strengthening and encouraging others: Follow the Way of Love

Another related post from this blog is Thankfulness: Observe, Appreciate, Express, Imitate

You might also like this article by Sam Crabtree at Family Life: 20 Ideas for Encouraging Others.

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