You would be hard pressed to find many individuals in this world who do not enjoy feeling appreciated by their love ones, co-workers, family and friends. Yet I have learned that there's a "law of diminishing appreciation" that occurs in too many relationships as people take others efforts totally for granted. Before writing about this topic, I want to preface that this topic can hit a nerve in sensitive individuals who may read this and be quite an upsetting topic to discuss candidly. However, I believe that in order to learn about others and grow relationships, you need to be able to communicate honestly as you try to understand each others feelings and emotions.
My law of diminishing appreciation goes something like this: "The more you continuously go out of you way for others, the less they tend to appreciate your efforts." Let's begin testing this law by discussing a simple example of new friends first. When you first meet someone and do something really nice and unexpected like pick up a check at dinner or consecutive rounds of drinks at the bar, you are considered a really nice person. There's usually an instant feeling of appreciation that comes from your new friend from their surprise. On a second meeting, you repeat your act of kindness, which originates directly from your heart and pick up the dinner check again. It's still appreciated by your new friend, yet not quite as much as the first time surprise. Keep in mind that your acts of kindness were done unconditionally each time and you really don't care if they ever reciprocate. Here comes the tough part of the law. Your new friend will probably avoid a third meeting because they feel obligated to pick up the dinner check. Or if there happens to be a third meeting, your prior acts of kindness have set the stage for you to pick up the check as a matter of fact.
Next let's look at our family relationships. Who do we do more for in life than our kids or our spouse? Mom's and Dad's have no limits when it comes to their children. They will make any sacrifice of time, effort, or resources, just to see their kids healthy and happy. Yet the law of diminishing appreciation can be found constantly in these relationships. As a parent keeps raising the bar of what they are willing to do for their children, their children just seem to expect more. Most of a parent's work, dedication and efforts to make their kids comfortable and happy, go on behind the scenes. Kids just expect that all these efforts are their birthright and a parent's responsibility to perform. That is until they become parents themselves.
The same law unfortunately applies to marriages and loving relationships. In the beginning of these wonderful relationships, partners go out of their way to express their love and appreciation with flowers, cards and love notes. They are amazed to find a partner who truly loves them and would do anything in the world for them. Then the passing of months and years makes yesterdays surprise gift or incredible acts of kindness something to be expected. The bar of expectations gets raised higher and higher as the level of appreciation diminishes. The next thing you know, those wonderful relationships, that started off with incredible wedding vowels, celebrations and fanfare, cease to exist. They just don't appreciate each other any more.
This same law applies with kids taking care of elderly parents or at work with your boss or co-workers. It applies to neighbors, in schools and organizations, in government and in relationships between country leaders. It just seems to be unavoidable, wherever your life takes you. So the question is - should we just accept that life can stink at times or can we do something about this ugly law? Hey, this is eHappyLife what do you think?
How about: starting today we all make a conscious effort to go out of our way to TELL people HOW MUCH we appreciate their efforts. Want to have a better world? It can start with your own actions. Send this article to your family and friends and try to make an impact with those around you. I'm sure that everyone can identify with the brief examples I discussed. I'm also sure that everyone wants to FEEL more appreciated for their efforts.
In stark contrast to my law, we all had the opportunity to witness on TV, how much the people of the world appreciated the efforts of Pope John Paul II. The leaders from all over the world, as well as millions of common people, made a grueling pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican to display their deepest appreciation for what the Pope had done during his lifetime. It's just too bad that he didn't get to experience this event. You see, we all have it in us to show our appreciation. We just need to practice it more. Like everyday, to get really good at it.
So why not start right now! Make your daily contribution of showing appreciation and make your world BETTER!