Many of the blog posts and articles one reads are about how approaching each day with gratitude can help us handle the ups and downs of everyday life with a calmer and more serene mind. I know this to be true and as far as I can, I make sure that I don’t miss out on noticing the people and things I am grateful for in my life. However, for me, the first cousin or even sibling of gratitude is appreciation, and a genuine attitude of appreciation is a powerful way of spreading wellbeing. Here’s how one remarkable woman applied that attitude of appreciation to me and many others.
My friend Marie was a highly intelligent woman and a master of many disciplines, some of them highly academic. However, it wasn’t her undoubted intellect that drew and kept her many friends from all around the world close, but her ability to apply her appreciation to all those she came into contact with. In general terms what she did was simple and from my own experience here’s how she did it:
- She always sounded genuinely happy and thrilled to hear from me, even when I realised afterwards that it was a bad time to call or she was somewhere abroad with a dodgy mobile signal.
- She never made the conversation all about her. She elevated listening to an Olympic sport and won gold time after time.
- She was a deeply grounded and sensible person, but always ready to chuckle at my jokes or observations on the absurdities of life.
- Despite being incredibly smart she was not too proud to say when she didn’t know anything about something and made me feel like I was helping her when I offered thoughts or suggestions.
- She practised gratitude herself and expressed it often.
- She made it clear that she had faith in me and by doing so kept my self -doubtgremlins at bay for years. This manifested itself by her encouraging me in everything from my craft projects, which most of my non crafty friends have zero interest in, to my career reinventions, my singing, my obsessional breadmaking, my yoga , and my battles to master technology sufficiently to build my own website.
In summary, I always felt she appreciated me on all kinds of levels. This magic balm of appreciation was by no means reserved for me alone though. She applied it freely and often to countless friends she gathered around her throughout her whole life from all four corners of the world. She had friends from childhood, and friends she met recently. I’m willing to bet they all experienced her appreciation at first hand.
Marie believed in Angels, and having died much too young I like to believe she has become one of them. It was always a joke between us in response to another good friend whose rolling eyes and withering looks showed her lack of shared belief in the possibility that Angels are amongst us on earth. To be fair, when Marie talked about how the Parking Angel had ensured she found a place near where she wanted to be in London, one of the most nightmare cities in the world to find a space, I could understand why others may not have felt this was the best use of angelic powers. I was never sure about how I felt about the presence and role of Angels in everyday life, but on balance I would like to think that Marie was right as she was right about so many things including how to apply appreciation.
I would like to see a contagion of appreciation sweep the world. Maybe we could name the contagion the way they do hurricanes. The first one would have to be called after my very special friend Marie.