Last Friday was Valentine’s Day. I love Valentine’s Day because it’s all about expressing love, appreciation and gratitude to the important people in my life. After spending a great evening with my wife and kids, in which we all had the chance to express our love, appreciation and gratitude to each other, I thought to myself ‘how much more happy and empowered we all would be if we practiced this level of expression regularly’.
We run so fast, our lives are so hectic and driven, that without meaning to we often take for granted how others feel about us and what they do for us. We just don’t stop and say “Thank you” enough.
We wouldn’t dream of driving our cars with no oil in the engine. Friction would build up, the pistons would seize, and the car would grind to a halt. Expressing love, appreciation and gratitude is the oil of relationships. When we express our love, appreciation and gratitude we touch others and this motivates them to give even more. People can endure, even thrive, during extensive difficult times when they feel appreciated and loved.
I travel a lot in my line of work, and in the past it often took my wife and I some time to reconnect when I would return home. It’s not that we don’t love each other. In fact, we are madly in love. But, when I was away and my wife was at home, we had different routines. And it often took some conscious effort to reconnect and realign our routines when I came back. There always seemed to be a period of heightened sensitivity when we came back together. If I would criticize my wife, even for small and insignificant things like ‘the kitchen is not clean’ or ‘the kids are not in bed on time,’ it would often turn into an argument beyond proportion.
So, a few years ago we started a new practice – we agreed that in the first hours of my return home we would only express positive, supportive, and appreciative things to each other. There are always things to criticize each other for, and some of these seem more pronounced when you’ve been a part for a few days. Even though we’ve been practicing this routine for a few years now, I still find, even today, that it takes a conscious effort to avoid the negative comments and only focus on things to appreciate and recognize in my wife and kids. It’s not always easy, but it works and it is very rewarding for all of us.
People seem to be lazy and even stingy about expressing love, appreciation and gratitude. The lazy say, “well they already know how I feel. I thanked them last week or last month.” They don’t understand that expressing love, appreciation and gratitude is not about the information. The stingy say, “they could have done it better, it wasn’t that great.” They focus on what’s not good enough instead of generously highlighting others’ efforts and care. Both are letting the oil run out of the engine.
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived every day like it was Valentine’s day?