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How does it make you feel when you come home, and your children greet you at the door, with squeals of delight, and the biggest smiles, and smother you with hugs and kisses? If you don’t have children, think about your dog. He licks your face and wags his tail. (Ladies, some of our husbands would love to be greeted by us that way!) I’d be glad if my husband was that enthused also. But think how you feel when you come home, and nobody really notices or cares. Many of us feel taken for granted, and unappreciated. We need to know that we are esteemed and treasured by someone in this world.

Every one of us needs praise and affection. I was listening to a teaching tape today, and the lady said that we need at least three hugs a day, to keep us from being weird. 🙂 Children die in orphanages without love and cuddling. They experience a syndrome called “failure to thrive.” Not long ago, in the 1800s, almost 100% of children under the age of two, died in the institutions, where they never received anything beyond the basic care of food and shelter. There just weren’t enough workers to go around, to provide much cuddling and affection. Touch is so vital to life. I often think of that, whenever I see older people, who have lost their spouses, and I try to give them a hug, or touch their hand, as a show of affection. A person’s physical needs can be well taken care of, but if they do not experience touching and affection, they will become ill, or die. For babies, a lack of touching and cuddling will also slow their development.

Whether you are dealing with people in your workplace, or the people you live with, try a little praise and encouragement. The number one reason that people quit their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. Researchers tell us that it’s best to use 5 praise statements for every critical or corrective one. Isn’t it true that if we’re speaking, or doing something before a group, twenty people can say it was great, but we’ll remember the one person who said something negative? (Yes, always.)

Try to catch people doing something right. I believe praise encourages us so much that we just naturally want to try even harder. It is a deposit in our bank of self-worth. There is a special lady who lives in our town. She has the gift of building people up.  JoAnn is rather large–(some would say quite overweight, and she often wears a mumu), but no one sees her size, because she can take the darkest day and make sunshine. She has this way of making every person feel like they are the most special person on earth. I have watched faces, as she took someone by the hand, and began to exhort, encourage, and compliment.  People start to glow as she tells them how marvelous they are. Five minutes with JoAnn and you can climb a mountain, or swim the sea. She makes you feel that good! Is JoAnn’s life a dream come true? Not at all–she has lost very close loved ones in her family (recently her husband), and has had more than her share of heartaches. But when you are in her presence, she loves you to the moon and back. It is truly a gift that she has, of making people feel special. She always sees the good, and builds on that. And when you leave her presence, you want to be all that she sees in you.  Jess Lair wrote, “Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit…” (That’s what it’s like with JoAnn.) She is the sun, and you are the flower that blooms in her presence. She makes everyone feel beautiful.

My husband told me about a man that he met, who said that when he was a child, he was in foster home, after foster home. (I’m sure in those circumstances his self-esteem suffered greatly.) But he had a social worker, who never failed (each time she saw him) to place his hand between hers, look him in the eyes, and say, “You’re special.” Then she would tell him to say it. And he would say, “I’m special.” As time went on, she would just place his hand in hers, and he would know to say, “I’m special.” Later as a young man, he got a job and did the best he could to go the extra mile. Nothing they asked of him was too much trouble. And one day the boss called him into his office and said, “You’ve got potential.” Those two comments inspired him to be the wonderful person, and successful businessman that he is today, simply because someone took the time to praise him, and build him up, in the midst of great trials, and difficult living conditions, that could have left him devastated.  The social worker gave him a boost of confidence and hope.  So did his boss. When someone else believes in you, you start to believe in yourself. Is there someone in your circle that needs to feel loved and appreciated? How about your spouse, your child, or a next door neighbor? A coworker? An extended family member? A stranger in the grocery store?

There is a lovely Chinese quote that says, “A bit of perfume always clings to the hand that gives roses.”  May that beautifully fragrant hand be yours, as you encourage and love others along this journey…

Please see other articles that I have written here:



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