Local nonprofit directors dedicate their lives to the common good. photos by Keith Borgmeyer Cheryl Howard, Nora Stewart Early Learning Center As a former graduate...
He backed up slowly, with full concentration, looking down at the ground one step at a time. He backed up to the fireplace hearth, carefully lowering his bottom onto the ledge. Still looking down, with an inward appreciation, my 13-month-old grandson settled in and reveled in his accomplishment of walking backwards and sitting on a ledge for the very first time.
Oliver was so pleased with his effort and accomplishment of taking on a new challenge. A small, satisfied smile crossed his face, as if he appeared to be saying to himself: “Nice work buddy. You stayed focused and accomplished your goal. Wasn’t that great?” I watched with amazement — first because I’m his grandmother, of course, but also because I saw something natural in him that we seem to lose as time goes along: a healthy, genuine appreciation and acknowledgement for ourselves. He reminded me that it becomes increasingly important to pause and celebrate our victories throughout the day.
I was raised in the Midwest, and one of the important things about growing up here, for me, was having a base value of humility. However, a good thing can go too far. Humility is a wonderful virtue, but if we don’t acknowledge and appreciate ourselves in the everyday moments of our lives, who will? It feels supportive, empowering, energizing, and healthy to come to the end of a project or day and reflect with gratitude on our accomplishments. It can be a wellspring of joy and satisfaction.
Most of us have heard the saying “What we think about grows.” What would your life be like if you consistently focused on acknowledging and appreciating yourself, your actions, your intentions, your empowering way of showing up in challenging circumstances? Can’t you feel the respect, admiration, and love? I can!
Whether you’re a working at home or at an office, taking that pause to revel in your accomplishments also impacts how you show up with your family, friends, or co-workers. Think about how different your experience is when you’re being perfectionistic and critical, feeling like you’re not measuring up. Compare this feeling to the feeling you get when you’re enjoying your endurance and courage, having self-appreciation as a steady companion. If you aren’t comfortable with that part of yourself, how can you expect others to follow you or your example?
Watching my grandson and all his firsts continually reminds me that when we are kind to ourselves and appreciate our successes, big and small, we have the energy to continue our growth edge and to experience joy and satisfaction. Today, consider asking yourself these questions: What do I want to be appreciated for? What do I want to be acknowledged for? How can I begin honoring these attributes and actions inside of myself and for myself?