The kids are grown and on their own. The wife has challenges. The granddaughters are growing up faster than I think, and one has a birthday this week. The parents are elderly and both have health issues. The employees work hard and feel unappreciated. What do all these people have in common? The common thread with all these people is that they not only want to feel appreciated, they want to be encouraged. I have talked several times about the fact that with encouragement and gratefulness (appreciation), we can all turn Good Love into Better Love.
I am repeatedly struck by the fact that the same things in the area of encouragement and appreciation that I wanted and valued from my parents are what my kids want(ed) from me. And the grandchildren need it, but also my parents need that from me more at this stage of their lives as well. I never wanted to hear “I told you so” from my parents after making a mistake that they had warned against. “You should have known better” wasn’t any more popular.
In addition to learning the lessons from experiences that might have elicited those types of comments, I now know better than to take that sort of attitude with any and all the parties listed above. A reminder of a conversation where we discussed the solution of, or prevention of, a problem can be made in a way that does not convey the “I told you so” or the “You should have known better.”
Back in May I shared the Two Secrets to a Happy Marriage – enthusiasm and a positive attitude. The positive attitude is probably the secret to a happy life in every area, not just in marriage. Giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt goes a long way in keeping the relationship positive. Assuming the best in the other person always puts you ahead in the long run. When I assume the worst, the other person is already at a disadvantage that is hard to recover from, without either reconsideration on my part or outside influence.
A negative attitude hurts ourselves more than any other person. Connection and relationship are possible with a positive attitude, and builds our strengths and bonding. In contrast, the negative attitudes bring alienation, deterioration, and isolation. But how do we maintain a positive attitude when some of the hurts of life are at the forefront? There are four easy steps to cultivate a positive attitude:
(1) – Be grateful. We need to be grateful for all we have, especially for what we have in our important relationships. When we take anyone or anything for granted, we are headed for negative thoughts.
(2) – Compliment someone. We need to be ready to give a well-deserved, sincere compliment when someone has gone the extra mile, has a good attitude, and we are grateful for it. Recently I shared some well-deserved compliments and thanks with people at work. Two of them responded that it had been over three years since they had gotten a compliment. The sad thing is that I knew that they merited compliments before that, even from myself.
(3) – Keep a good sense of humor. This has been one of my most valuable assets, as I see how humor always makes a less desirable situation better.
(4) – Distance yourself from negativity. Sometimes we can partially control the negative talk and whining by not joining in the conversation. Sometimes we can participate in the negative conversation and put a positive spin on it. But sometimes we just need to distance ourselves from negative people. I have shared how in extreme cases negative people can be like emotional vampires, sucking our emotional strength from us like a vampire sucking our life blood.
Try applying these four principles this week and see if you don’t see an improvement in at least one relationship.