I recently wrote about the importance of receiving — and how letting in good stuff is often more difficult than giving. But this is not to minimize the value and power of extending ourselves in generous ways to others.
How often have we felt devalued, unappreciated, and criticized? A basic human need is to be valued, seen, and appreciated. When this longing goes unmet — when our basic value and goodness are not recognized and reflected back to us — we may find it difficult to value and affirm ourselves.
Deprived of positive, affirming messages, our lives may be driven by a restless desire for praise and validation. Or, giving up on getting love and appreciation, we may collapse into worthlessness, which may be associated with depression.
It may not readily occur to us to praise others when we’re feeling deprived of love, distracted by our own needs, or just not attuned to others. Our attention may naturally go toward ensuring our own well-being rather than noticing what others might need. But perhaps if we can be mindful of moments where we recognize something valuable about another and express some positive sentiment, giving to them what we might like to receive, we offer them a kind service. And we may also benefit in unanticipated ways.
The old saying “what goes around comes around” has the resonant ring of truth. Giving what we long to receive can have a curious way of returning to us what we seek from others.
This is not meant to add any pressure or some obligation to always be giving in this way. We may not feel it at times, or perhaps not often at all. The value of giving is eroded when tinged with a sense of duty or if we’re stricken with the shame of not being generous.
Yet, if we live with more mindful awareness of our surroundings, including the people we encounter in our daily lives, it can feel good to express our appreciation and gratitude for some positive quality we perceive in them, such as their goodness, kindness or creativity. And we might be touched with some satisfaction that we had the ability to touch someone’s day in a beneficial way.
As I was wondering what to write next, I received an email from a friend who just read one of my blogs and appreciated it. I felt touched to hear this and wrote back expressing my appreciation for his kind expression of gratitude. The irony of his demonstrating the point I’m making in this article was not lost upon me!
Suggestion: the next time you notice something positive about a person, check if you’d feel comfortable expressing that to them. Perhaps you recognize a kind deed or word they offered to someone, or to you. Or maybe you’re touched by their kind smile or a helpful comment they made. Notice how you feel offering a compliment or appreciation, and how they respond to your praise or appreciation.
Soulful, intimate moments might arise more frequently as we’re poised to notice them as opportunities for potential contact. The connections we long for might visit us with greater regularity as we find the awareness to seize these precious moments as doorways to deeper contact.