Do you avoid celebrating others? We have so many opportunities throughout our day to share simple acts of kindness and appreciation with others. But do we? Perhaps it is part of our instinct to survive, being hyperaware of the malfunctioning or what is not working, that distracts us from the many opportunities to celebrate the positive qualities of ourselves and others.
As I changed my perspective from criticism to positivity in the past few years, I began to wonder how many times I take the opportunity to notice how we communicate our gratitude to each other. Sharing compliments, small celebrations of kind acts, or making bold choices to be generous is an inherent part of our human nature. I know I love to receive these tokens of appreciation from others. It builds a connection between individuals who share awareness of good deeds or positive choices that too many take for granted.
A recent trip to Greece offered me the opportunity to observe the effects of a small group celebrating and appreciating one other. After spending nearly two weeks together, eating meals, riding in a small bus, and visiting beautiful locations, we had a much deeper understanding of each person’s gifts. The group leader, Jill Renee Feeler, offered each member an opportunity to speak about our fellow travelers and what we had learned. Hearing how we are perceived by others in the world brought smiles and warmed our hearts.
I was able to spend time with family following the trip, which reinforced that celebrating what we appreciate about others is necessary within our community. I watched my niece’s expression as she read a letter from her teammates. She had worked hard all season to earn a spot on the high school varsity cross country team as an eighth grader. The varsity runners were departing for a trip to run at Disneyland, and the team captains had written her a heartfelt welcome note highlighting beautiful qualities she brings to the team, reinforcing her sense of belonging. Later, while at my seven-year-old niece’s birthday party, compliments about clothes, bouncy house performances, book choices, and rock-climbing abilities were a natural way for these first graders and their older siblings to express themselves. Even the shyest among them stood taller upon recognition.
There are programs designed to teach us to be humble and to tamp down our egos. While I understand the benefit and intention behind such efforts, avoiding sincere compliments and positive recognition stifles connection, understanding, and appreciation for the unique contributions of others. I am curious about how we can recreate our experiences as we journey back to express our true nature. Many of us must deconstruct the messages we’ve internalized about humility – hiding our light within – in order to make heartfelt connections with others. If we stretch our boundaries to celebrate others, we open our hearts to a wider and more authentic network. Celebrating what is good and kind expands positivity in our live and the world.
Original article appears in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of Woman