The Value of Appreciation

Why is appreciation so valuable?

 As human beings, we need our value, our significance, our uniqueness and our honour to be affirmed by others. As a human being, on the one hand, you are an individual, someone who stands singlehandedly and is by definition already valuable. On the other hand, you can only fully enjoy your person and individuality in interaction with others. Romano Guardini calls this a ‘co-essential’. Two truths that are inextricably linked. Both are in themselves complete truths and extremely important aspects of life. However, separated from each other, they lead to destructive behaviour.

Protecting and promoting individuality is essential for a healthy life, healthy relationships and a healthy society. Pure individualism, however, destroys people, relationships and society. Protecting and promoting community is essential for a healthy life, healthy relationships and a healthy society. Without community, besides other effects, there is no sense of solidarity. However, if the interests of the individual are neglected in the pursuit of community, it also destroys people, relationships and society.

I use the following definition of appreciation:

‘Appreciation is the perception, discovery and naming of the value and uniqueness of a person.’

In other words, appreciation means:
1. You listen to or look at a person attentively, to discover his uniqueness and value.
2. You take the time to perceive the beauty of the other person.
3. You meet this person, and express what you appreciate about him or her.
4. In this way, the other person experiences something of your unconditional acceptance and it becomes a little easier for that person to appreciate him/herself.

In Latin, we use the word ‘benedicere’, which means ‘blessing’. It is a combination of two words: ‘bene’ = good and ‘dicere’ = speaking. In short, to say good things about the other person. Bless the other. Something that we see a lot in traditions. A child is blessed at baptism, newlyweds at their wedding. Or, as you would say in Israel: Shalom! Which literally means, ‘Peace!’ The deeper meaning behind the word is the desire for well-being and a life in harmony with the other. Speaking of blessings!

Appreciation also contributes to mental health.

Dr Viktor Frankl and Dr Alfred Adler gave the following three conditions to stay healthy as a human being:

1. Discovering your talents, developing them and using them for a greater purpose.
2. To find and fill your unique place within the community, to feel at home there and needed.
3. To make a unique contribution and thus be of significance to your environment and the greater whole.

In order to discover and develop your unique talents, you need spoken appreciation, in the form of honest and constructive feedback. In order to find and take your place in a community, you need appreciation, in the form of affirmation – that you are wanted and needed there. To experience that you are valuable to others, you need their appreciation. This gives you a valuable confirmation of what your contribution and impact is on your neighbour and your environment.

Tips to start living a life of appreciation:
1. Take time every day to recognize 1 good talent yourself.
2. Take time regularly to affirm the contributions and skills of your family, colleagues, spouse, friends and customers.


This blog series is written by Paul Ch. Donders, author of his new book, Appreciation.

Restoring the dignity in humanity

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