Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Want More Positive and Fun in Your Life? Add a “Praise -O-Meter”!

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

I was counseling a woman a couple of weeks ago and she told me about the “Praise-o-meter” that she has in her home.  It is a tongue in cheek communication descriptor that is used by her family. It goes like this: when a person does something that is additive to the functioning of the homelife, s/he announces it to the rest of the family who, in turn, praise the person for the effort. Is there value to such a “Praise-o-meter”?  Yes!

One, it encourages all members to be thoughtful (mindful) of others and how s/he can do something nice for their benefit.  No matter what time you introduce the “Praise-0-meter” into the home it is a positive reminder that each member has a contribution to make, should do it, and be recognized for it.

Two, it encourages a person to ask for what s/he may want.  This is being assertive. Everyone needs “attaboys” and “attagirls”. I always encourage people to know what they want and then to ask for it.  It doesn’t necessarily mean one deserves or will get everything desired, but at least make an effort to communicate what is desired.

Third, it reminds everyone that giving praise and recognition is an important communication gesture in a family andelsewhere. “Catch” someone doing something good and laud them for it. It feels good to give and receive compliments.  Positive  reinforcement begets further continuance of the noted behavior. (Basic Skinnerian operant theory for those of you who took Psychology 101). Most people have not had a life filled with compliments and positive
recognition.  Good karma. (Karma definition used here: The Golden Rule = what you give out you will receive back)

Fourth, it brings smiles to family members. Can’t you just see it when: 1) Dad emptied the dish washer on his own.  2) Mom cooks a particularly elaborate and tasty dinner. 3) Son mows the grass without being told. 4) Daughter vacuums the house on a whim. Each person after doing the thoughtful deed then announces it and says, “praise me.” (To quote Larry the Cable Guy: “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny”) Most homes can use a bit more humor, especially the positive kind that teaches and reminds members of contributions made by each family member.

Needless to say the “Praise-o-meter” has application in other settings as well.  Not too long ago I attended a farewell dinner for a couple who had greatly contributed in the positive formation and development of their community.  Many compliments about them were spoken publicly and privately.  There was a warm caring feeling in the
environment as the couple’s contributions were recognized and praised. (In this case they did not ask for praise.  That part of the “Praise-o-meter” is only applicable in the family setting). I believe most of the crowd walked away feeling good and vowing to make more of a positive effort for the well being of their community. This couple’s efforts,
and praise given, had a carryover effect.

Anyone who has worked in any type of business environment knows full well the value of recognition and praise for a job well done. Significant research has noted that most workers value such positive recognition over a pay increase. A positive environment creates good worker morale and output. Managers and Supervisors, take note!

I hope this article in some way inspires you to buy into using a “Praise-o-meter”.  It doesn’t cost a penny and it never needs to be replaced.  In fact, it works better the more you utilize it!

Brenda: You Made Each of Us a Better Person. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

     A very special woman died recently.  Her name was Brenda Bourdage. My wife and I attended her funeral at the local Catholic Church.  The Church was full – for good reason.  The reason was Brenda and the kind of person she was. She died suddenly at the age of sixty-one.  She was apparently in good health. She walked four miles every day and played spirited tennis practically every day. A brain aneurism took her suddenly to her death. This was shocking and painful to all who knew her.

     Brenda was a role model in a myriad of ways. She lived life fully with love for her husband Bob and the many friends she had. The packed Church was indicative of that.  She was loving and loveable.

     Some of the reasons she was so well liked is that she was real, very genuine, in her friendly, inviting, sharing, and giving style. You were a better person being around her.  She was always positive, saw the best in the other person, excused and forgave those who stumbled in whatever fashion they might have.

     When you saw her you were greeted with a warm welcoming smile, an embrace and a kiss on the cheek. Sherry and I were blessed to have many fun times with her and Bob.  They were true partners in all endeavors.  Bob and Brenda were a great team – on the tennis court, and in life in general.  We played tennis with them on a regular basis, along with many other tennis friends who joined in this competitive and fun community. We traveled with them to Jamaica, along with other friends and enjoyed tennis, dancing, beaching, and boating – and some fun dinners!

     The speakers chosen to share their experience with Brenda did a marvelous job of capturing her essence with their heartfelt words.  The eloquently voiced testimonials were truly representative of the thoughts and feelings of everyone present.  We laughed and cried together as aspects of her life were recounted. She was very present and still bringing us together.  She always was a great organizer!

     At the reception after the service many a person commented, including myself, “I need to be a better person so that when my funeral memorial is held people will say such good things about me.”  Thank you, Brenda, for being such a wonderful model and inviting us to be our best self. You did it well, my friend. You organized one helluva “Love In”! You are still with us in Spirit and we remain grateful!

A Thanksgiving Perspective and Opportunity

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

      We are a country of rituals and holidays.  It is inherent in human beings to reflect on certain basic realities and celebrate their existence.  As each duly designated holiday passes, I sometimes wonder whether we truly benefit from the holiday beyond the fact that we have a day off from our usual routine.  Has the day added anything to our consciousness?  Are we any better for having participated in the day?

      Thanksgiving. Giving thanks.   As you think of it, do you consider it as a day of obligation or opportunity? Obligation might include having to go to someone’s house, stressfully be with family, endure insipid relatives, and overdo the consumption of plentiful food and drink. Opportunity offers something different.  It invites us to ponder our lives from a positive grateful perspective.

      Who are the people, what are the circumstances, of our life for which we might give thanks?

      May I invite you to use this opportunity to reflect on possible sources of gratitude.  See if you can come up with seven answers to the following questions:

  1.  Who have been the people of your past for whom you are grateful?

  2.  Who are the people currently in your life for whom it is appropriate to give thanks?

  3.  What are the events and circumstances in your life today that elicit thanksgiving?

After you have finished, share your list and the reasons for choosing them with a significant person in your life.  A pleasant conversation will result. Guaranteed.

      If you take some time and seriously reflect on these questions you may well be surprised at what you find.  Some of the negative or hurtful people and events of your life may actually have had, or do have, a positive influence on your personal and professional life.  That difficult teacher, challenging supervisor, idiotic boyfriend, outrageous first wife, being fired, car accident, etc… may in the long run have benefited you greatly.  Oftentimes we learn some basic lessons of life from some tough circumstances and seemingly negative people or experiences.

   If your focus this Thanksgiving is on gratitude instead of grudge, seeing what is right in your life instead of wrong, it can be an opportunity to truly celebrate the day.  Perhaps the day could include actually expressing your thankfulness to these special people.  After all, they have been the instruments in making you the incredible person     that you are!                                                                                      

                                                                                                                HAPPY  THANKSGIVING!