Set aside Appreciation Time to tell your partner something that
was done for you and why you appreciate it.
Keep it fresh by not repeating the same thing for a week.
Morning routines are hectic! Come to think of it, so are afternoons and
evenings. With everything going on in your life, how are you expected to
make time to show appreciation when you barely have time to whiten your
What’s the point of Appreciation Time, anyway? At first, it may seem a little silly after you’ve already said ‘thank you.’ But appreciation takes gratitude one step further by adding ‘why’ it was so meaningful to you. “I really appreciated that extra cup of coffee. You had perfect timing and brought it just as I needed a pick me up.”
Every time you show appreciation, you’re creating positive neural pathways in the brain. These pathways become embedded memories in the subconscious. As a result, each time you offer appreciation and gratitude, you’re automatically reinforcing positive patterns and creating a chain reaction of particular chemicals being released in the brain.
Although the chemicals aren’t sold over the counter at the local drug store, they are conveniently located in the brain of every human being. These are natural feel-good chemical compounds named Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. An easy way to remember them is by using the anagram D.O.S.E. These particular chemicals are found in the neurotransmitters of the brain that work with receptors to produce positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. Although they are all considered to be Happy Chemicals, Dopamine is the one member of the feel-good chemical group that is often given credit for providing you with a rush of high while increasing your self-confidence.
In other words, Dopamine is an innate feel-good messenger of the brain that keeps increasing every time you perform any act of kindness. It can’t help itself! As the Dopamine level increases, motivation to do more is also stimulated.
Want to raise your Dopamine level even more? To amplify that feel good feeling, start by eating certain foods, like bananas, almonds, and dark chocolate. Another way is to have an orgasm. But since it isn’t likely, or practical, that you go throughout your day eating bananas and having orgasms, a much simpler way of boosting your happy chemicals is by showing appreciation.
Yep, through Appreciation Time, whenever you offer praise and say why you feel grateful, your Dopamine level receives an upbeat message, improving the chances of increased kindnesses in order for the brain’s neurotransmitters to release more natural chemical bliss. All you have to do is say something nice!
Remember to include all household members to make everyone feel appreciated. Before you know it, kids won’t need to be reminded to take out the garbage once you start noticing and appreciating when they do along with why you’re grateful.
Get a zing from Dopamine!
Accomplishment NOUN...something that has been achieved successfully.
Offer sincere praise for your partner’s accomplishments.
Big or small, celebrate and be proud of your partner! As a new bride, I wasn’t much of a cook. Oh, I conquered the basics well enough, but the challenge of making lump-free mashed potatoes and gravy escaped my kitchen prowess. They were too thick, too thin, or too lumpy. I used too much flour, too little broth, too much salt, not enough butter. Until… one Thanksgiving, I made the absolute best mashed potatoes and gravy ever made on that thankful day! Everything I cooked was perfect. It was like the fairy godmother of lump-free food waved her magic wand and I could do no wrong.
When my husband told me how delicious everything was and how proud he was of me, I was like a little kid! “Watch me swim!” “Watch me swing!” “Watch me make gravy!” It’s embarrassing to admit, but I remember telling him every single step of the mashed potato and gravy process and how I did it!
As adults, no one expects you to gush with every pass of the gravy boat and it’s not like I wasn’t going to write a cookbook, but I was grateful to be acknowledged.
While some skills come easily to one person, these same skills may be a challenge to another. Beware of letting your ego get caught up in how wonderfully clever you are with the mastery of expertise in your tool belt. Whether it’s creamy gravy, a long-awaited promotion or earning a certificate of achievement---the level of accomplishment is your own perception as to the degree of difficulty. It’s the sincere encouragement and support that go a long way in your partner’s eyes.
Sometimes, though, an accomplishment by one partner can be a two edged sword. When the kids became school age, and I wanted to return to the classroom, teaching jobs were scarce. My husband and I decided that I would open a wallpaper and paint store. Coming from a teaching background, building a successful business was a huge deal to me. I had to learn a lot about record keeping, ordering, and so much more. After a few years, when the business was secure and taking root in the community, my husband, who had a business degree, decided to sell his beer distributor business and join me, which was our long term goal.
At first, I was thrilled to have a mom and pop store! But once he arrived, it was clear that we weren’t great at being co-owners. No matter what I did, it was wrong. After a year, the Universe must have decided enough was enough when a school district called me out of nowhere, offering me a position as a long term substitute. I gratefully accepted and left the business entirely in his hands. To say he was not happy is putting it mildly. But I was a teacher. He was a businessman. Never the twain should meet in a wallpaper and paint business.
Human nature is a funny thing when egos come into play. Of course egos are necessary to have anything accomplished in this world. But when it comes to accomplishments of your partner, egos need to be set aside. It’s time to remember that it isn’t about you, so don’t bother to offer a string of empty praises. It’s about having the genuine satisfaction that you confirmed confidence in the person you love.
Meanwhile, if you’re on the other side of the coin, don’t let your accomplishment go to your head, or, as my mom would say, “Don’t get too big for your britches, Missy!” or “Mister” if she was talking to my brothers. It seems that anyone approaching the big britches status wasn’t worthy to be called by name. Be proud of your accomplishments, but also remember to keep it real.
In the movies, who do you root for? Is it the obnoxious blowhard or the guy who is humble and supportive? Besides, acknowledging your partner’s accomplishments is sexy.
Accept your partner with all his or her small quirks,
habits and little annoyances.
Uncle Mike picked his teeth with a toothpick. Aunt Jane repeatedly blew her nose then tucked her hanky up her sleeve for easy access. Annoyances to be sure, but since they were two of the kindest people ever known, these habits were accepted by the family without comment.
Everyone has little quirks or annoyances adopted at an early age, some more annoying than others, like wiping your hands on your shirt sleeve instead of using a napkin.
When you first began dating, everything is rosy! Each of you are putting your best foot forward focusing all of your attention on getting to know each other’s basic interests. At this level, you don’t know if he leaves sweaty socks on the living room floor, the toilet seat up, or cleans his facial hairs out of the bathroom sink. You don’t know if her clothes are strewn all over the bedroom, if she’ll use your razor on her legs or forget to put the lid on the toothpaste. These are things you learn after making a commitment.
After living with your partner a while, the habits that you either didn’t notice or that didn’t bother you at the beginning stages may become maddening!
You’ve nagged, begged and pleaded for change and it still hasn’t worked. So what do you do? Some habits are easy fixes, like using silent reminder post-a-notes on the bathroom mirror, “remember to clean out the sink” or the car steering wheel, “remember to get gas.” You need to be able to communicate how irritating it can be finding hairs in the sink or getting into a car on empty.
Make certain to share with your partner how much you’re bothered by whatever it is. Use your “I” statements. “Honey, I feel uncomfortable when I get into bed and it’s covered with potato chip crumbs. Could you please not eat in bed?”
Instead of nit-picking, focus on his positive traits and have gratitude for the richness he adds to your life. Check your anxiety level to see if there is something else that is troubling you. There’s the saying, “crap slides downhill.” In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, when the easy going character George Bailey can’t find the missing money and the bank examiner is breathing down his neck, he starts spiraling downward. When his son Pete tells him about the neighbor’s car, he says, “What’s the matter with our car? Isn’t it good enough for ya!’” He complains about the house being a “drafty old barn” He tells Zuzu’s teacher she’s a “silly, stupid teacher” He screams at Janie’s piano playing telling her to “Stop it!” While this is an exaggerated scene and hopefully your day isn’t as bad as George’s, but if you have stress piling up on you every day, you could be acting out your personal stress by complaining about your partner’s habits. Think, what are you really upset about and why?
It’s important to note that there are definite behaviors that can ruin any relationship. These go beyond the annoyances of finding potato chips in bed and often have to do with bodily functions or cleanliness, putting the job or other people first, not spending enough time together, excessive nagging or being overly critical. If any of these behaviors sound familiar, there could be underlying currents of bigger problems that need to be addressed.
When you accept each other’s minor quirks and habits, you remain one solid unit. Change what you can and accept what you can’t. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.
You don’t need someone to complete you.
You only need someone to accept you completely.