They are bundled in our routines.
They’re our companions, friends, spouses, partners, parents, siblings, children, and family members. They’re the closest people to us.
We wake up most days knowing we will see them or talk with them. We spend large quantities of time with them. They make breakfast for us and fix the running toilet. We settle into our days and inadvertently neglect to properly recognize and appreciate these brilliant, special people. I know this is true because I do it.
I fail to recognize and appreciate the very person who is closest to me, my husband. The single person with whom I am traveling the world and spending my life is someone whom I neglect.
How is this possible?
We currently allocate entire days to running after trains, drinking bubble tea, and working on our life dreams. How can I flounder when I only have one person to focus on?
I certainly don’t do it on purpose. I have good intentions. I want to be the best partner possible. Though, as John Maxwell writes in his book Intentional Living, “Good intentions aren’t enough.” He goes on to say that if we “don’t act on it in an intentional way, it won’t make a difference.” This is certainly applicable in our relationships.
In many circumstances, the familiar becomes normal even when it’s extraordinary. We unknowingly expect things from others and fall into habit. We forget to treasure what’s right in front of us.
But we can do better. We can love and cherish and show our gratitude to the people we care most about. Whether you’re like me and need to improve your game, or you’re looking to avoid my mishaps and make someone feel special, here are five easy ways to recognize and appreciate the people closest to you.
1. Thank them for something “normal.”
When I practice this type of mindfulness, it becomes clear how many things I forget to say “thank you” for. There’s so much I don’t notice or acknowledge.
Whether it’s washing the dishes, having a meaningful conversation, or going for your regular Saturday morning espresso, vocalize your appreciation.
Not only can we thank people for what they do, we can thank them for who they are. Appreciating a specific quality, such as their humor or excellence at analyzing situations, is another way to recognize them. Being precise about what we’re grateful for gives depth and genuineness to our statements.
2. Put away devices.
This requires consciousness and action. I wrote myself a handy 4-step guide. Lift phone or other electronic device. Close screen. Physically move device to a location out of arm’s reach. Enjoy untethered human interaction.
Try it. It works.
3. Go on an adventure.
New scenery changes your attention. It’s a fresh opportunity to make the other person the focus.
This afternoon I suggested Joe and I toss a frisbee on the beach. Two days ago we took a walk to watch the sunset. On both occasions, we were more engaged in our conversation and interactions. We came away feeling more appreciated.
It doesn’t matter what or where your adventure is. Just go.
4. Ask a real question.
The other day I stopped what I was doing and asked Joe, “What excites you the most about the potential teaching job in Spain?” When I presented this question, I realized something. I was taking the focus off of me and placing it onto him. I was giving him an opportunity to share his thoughts and dreams. It was an opening for me to be fully present and dedicate time talking about what is important to him.
The energy and exchange in those moments encouraged me to dedicate future time to asking more real questions and giving undivided attention.
5. Get off your butt.
I didn’t even know I was popping a squat.
Joe was happily making dinners on the porch of our bungalow and I was happily eating them. Dinners don’t concern me much, as I’d be content with a bowl of yogurt and granola. But Joe wants a warm meal, and I don’t blame him. That’s what most humans prefer for supper. So, after he kindly brought it to my attention, I got off my butt and cooked a meal. This is what Joe refers to as “a miracle.”
So, whatever is atypical for you or something your companion would appreciate, hop up and perform those miracles. I promise it will make them feel valued.
Choose one technique from the list.
Put it into practice this week.
Rather than slip into mindlessness, we can decide on mindfulness in our relationships. Whether we’re living, traveling, or visiting with those closest to us, we can practice intentionality. After all, we want the people we care most about to know they are downright brilliant and special.
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