What is Appreciation?Appreciation is likea much-needed rainfall to a farmer's crops that have been withering ina drought. Just as the crops start to shrivel and die without water,human relationships also start to feel brittle without a steadyapplication of the nourishing, even life-giving, impacts ofappreciation.The dictionary defines appreciation as "a favorablecritical estimate," "sensitive awareness" and "an expression ofadmiration, approval or gratitude." When you appreciate someone, youare tuned into a positive quality of another human being and expressyour gratitude for it. How often do you take the time to express thosesentiments to others or even to yourself? If you're like most people,the idea of expressing appreciation to another person on a regularbasis might seem quite novel. Another meaning is "an increase invalue." We often associate this idea with real estate, or fine art, butpracticing appreciation to another we can notice and feel an increaseof the value of that particular relationship.How would it feelto wake up in the morning and be told how much you are loved? (Yes,without having to ask first!) How would it feel to tell your childreneach night five different ways that you appreciate them and let them dolikewise? What if your ex-spouse thanked you for being so organizedwith the children's schedule? Appreciation helps pave the way for adeep connection, intimacy, and honesty in our relationships.Why Do We Need Appreciation?Thereappears to be a drought of appreciation in our culture today. Mostpeople aren't used to giving appreciation. Perhaps even more, peopleare not skilled at receiving appreciations. Let's face it - most of usare used to criticism and judgment instead. When people hear themselvesbeing appreciated by another, there's often one of two reactions. Thefirst is typically suspicion - "Well that sounds nice, but I wonderwhat they really want from me?" You then go on alert waiting for somekind of request or "reason" someone else is being nice to you.Asecond reaction is simply to deflect the appreciation altogether -"Gee, thanks, but I really didn't do much and don't deserve yourappreciation." The "appreciation deflector" typically reciprocates thecompliment without pausing to fully let the appreciation sink in. An"appreciation receiver" is willing to take the acknowledgment, feel itfully and simply say "thank you." There is no need to deflect orreciprocate. Ask yourself honestly, how much do I express myappreciation to those in my life? How often do I appreciate myself? DoI feel comfortable with it or do I shy away from it?Appreciationis a simple way to refresh ourselves, to add to our life-force and toopen up heart-felt connections to ourselves and others. Appreciation isa recognized antidote to a major cause of relationship breakdown -criticism. Relationship experts estimate that it takes fiveappreciations to counter-balance the negative impact of even onecriticism. Acts of kindness, such as appreciation, alter the brainchemistry in a positive way that elevates our mood and sense ofwell-being. This change is enjoyed not only by the recipient of the actof kindness, but also by the giver and even third-party witnesses tothat act. One simple act can provide a big payoff to many people!Manypeople who've been divorced suffer a major blow to their self-esteemand self-confidence. Appreciation is like a loving balm to those woundsof divorce, soothing the pain of the past and helping you move forwardtowards a brighter future. Appreciation enhances and enriches all kindsof relationships profoundly - not only in our intimate relationships,but with our children, our family, our work colleagues and beyond.