“We were both sobbing with the kind of tears that you know wont quickly pass; mine had started gently trickling down the side of my cheek pretty much immediately, my husband’s were more muffled about 40 minutes in to the movie, in fairness we both reached a crescendo as the movie drew to a close.”
I was recalling our response to the film, The Notebook, at a Storytelling Workshop the other evening where we were asked to share with a partner a movie that had impacted us. The interesting part of the exercise came for me when we were invited to explore the learning and insights we had had from our impactful story.
The message from the movie was loud and clear – appreciate your loved ones now! The thought of saying I love you and the other person not knowing who you are, had quite an impact on me. I vowed there and then to make sure I found opportunities to regularly appreciate the people who are important to me.
Appreciating people and the good things in our life has been scientifically validated as having positive health and well-being effects. HearthMath research has led to new understandings on the interactions between the heart, brain and nervous system and how these interactions impact performance, judgement and our responses to potentially stressful situations. Appreciation and positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms and improve balance in the nervous system, which in turn increases our resilience.
I can recall an exercise from one of the first leadership development programmes I went on, where we were invited to write 50 things a day for a month that we appreciated in a journal. I can still remember racking my brains each night to come up with my 50 things and some of the rather bizarre things I choose to write down. The result was amazing though – within two weeks I was walking around buzzing, telling everyone how much I loved my life!
Appreciating the good things in our lives and perhaps even the mundane, is one thing, appreciating other people and acknowledging their efforts at work has also proven to have an amazing impact on performance and levels of employee engagement.
Nancy Kline, drawing on the research of the Gottman Institute of Seattle, in her book “Time to Think”, recommends practicing at least a 5:1 ratio of appreciation and positive comments compared to negative and neutral statements to enhanced motivation and increase productivity.
How might you bring more appreciation into your work and personal life?