We all like being appreciated, right? But have you ever wondered why? What is it about being appreciated that affects us so much?
Here are five possible reasons why it touches us, tickles us, and delights us when other float appreciation toward us.
We’re Being Valued
We do a good deed and someone offers a warm “thank you” or a reassuring nod or gesture. Or perhaps we share a poem, show an art project, or fix a leaky faucet and we’re praised and validated for it. In that moment, someone values and notices us amidst our fast-paced life. There is something about being valued that feels good — if we can only let it in fully.
Children need to feel valued so that they can gradually internalize self-valuing. We develop our sense of self from how we’re perceived by others. If we receive positive mirroring, we feel good about ourselves.
As adults, we also thrive on positive feedback from our environment. Being valued and appreciated help us reinforce a positive sense of self-worth.
We’re Being Seen
Someone we respect comments on our kindness or caring. Or someone recognizes and appreciates our goodness, wisdom, or compassion. We feel good when a person recognizes qualities that we appreciate about ourselves. It feels good to be seen.
We might take a risk to share vulnerable feelings with a lover, friend, or therapist. Rather than judge or fix us, they listen with kindness and openness, as well as appreciation for how we’re trusting them with something tender inside us. We feel good to be seen and appreciated as we share our sorrow, fear, or joy.
We’re Being Liked
Being appreciated goes along with being liked. If you think about someone you appreciate, perhaps because they’re kind, caring, or have an open, friendly attitude, you probably like that person. There’s something about liking and being liked that warms our heart and brings a smile to our face.
It may be easier to love someone than to like them. Maybe you love a parent but don’t really like them, Or perhaps you still have loving feelings for a former partner (or perhaps a current one), but you may not feel a spontaneous liking toward them. Maybe you’ve felt judged and shamed — or trust has been broken in ways that left you feeling unseen and unappreciated. It’s difficult to like someone when we have a real or imagined sense of not being respected, valued, and appreciated.
It Deepens a Sense of Meaning in Our Lives
When someone offers appreciation for an article or talk, it reminds me that what I’m doing is meaningful. Hearing that I’ve affected somebody in some small way adds meaning to my life. It feels good to get the message that I’ve affected someone in a positive way.
The Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, developed an approach to psychotherapy that he called “logotherapy,” which suggests that human beings are motivated by a “will to meaning.” We flourish when we live with a sense of meaning and purpose. We may flounder or get depressed when we lack meaning.
Being appreciated is a way to feel that we’re important to others; we make a difference in their lives. We are valued — or even cherished. It is validating and meaningful to hear that what we’ve done something thing good or that who we are is appreciated.
It Connects Us
As human beings, we long for connection. During that precious moment when someone sees us, praises us, or validates us, there’s a spontaneous connection that can arise — if we’re open to it. Feeling appreciated strengthens the bond between people. It helps satisfy our longing for healthy attachment.
One way to create connection is to give others what we desire. We can extend generosity by noticing positive things about others and finding some creative way to convey our positive sentiments toward them.
Positive psychology encourages us focus on the positive things in life, though without denying the negative side of life. It’s good for our immune system and mental health to nurture the positive sense of connection that can come from giving and receiving appreciation.
Consider this: When someone offers appreciation, are you able to receive it as it floats toward you? When someone expresses thanks or offers appreciation, can you stay out of your head and simply let it in? Rather than second guess it, take a breath, stay in your body, and allow yourself to notice how good it feels to be valued and appreciated.