A Gratitude Challenge for Couples or Families
Hey friend. A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on gratitude and how I incorporate gratitude practice into my daily life.
The next week, I shared my appreciation practice, and how I think it’s very different from gratitude.
As a recap— I think of gratitude as something I’m grateful for in my life, that’s external.
Something outside of myself, that I don’t have control of, that I can just notice and be glad and thankful that it exists. Examples: my dog, coffee, my parents, the cool weather, my privileges, etc.
Appreciation, while often used interchangeably with gratitude, I think is very different. To me, an appreciation practice involves expressing appreciation for yourself for something you have done that you are proud of or admire—big or small.
I think there’s a lot of personal growth that stems from this exercise specifically…
…especially when it comes to our self-worth.
Examples: I appreciate that I meditated today, I appreciate that I slept for 8 hours, I appreciate that I walked outdoors, I appreciate my self-compassion, I appreciate that I cooked dinner, etc. Some days, it’s hard to think of anything I appreciate about myself, and these are the days the exercise matters most.
Today I have an added challenge to these practices: sharing them with someone else.
This is hard.
If you haven’t had a chance to start your own appreciation practice yet, I highly suggest revisiting that email from a few weeks ago and doing that first.
But once you’ve got that going, choosing to share this with someone else can be life changing.
Choosing to share what you appreciate about yourself requires vulnerability and trust that most people tend to shy away from—because it is NOT easy.
Here’s how I do it—Christian (my boyfriend and work partner) do this every single night before bed or on our evening walk with our dog.
- We take turns, first sharing a gratitude practice: 3 things we are grateful for (in general, not necessarily related to each other—see list above for examples).
- Then, we take turns sharing 1-3 things we appreciate about the other person. This could be big or small, related to that day or our relationship in general.
Some personal examples of things I appreciate about Christian and have shared with him are: him doing the dishes, him going for a run, him working extra hours that day to complete a work project for our business, him helping me stay on track with eating well and not encouraging me to order dinner out, etc.
What you share will completely depend on your relationship, but it’s a very special opportunity to really acknowledge and recognize the other persons efforts, and that creates a special bond and level of trust.
When we first started this exercise, we intended to share 1 thing each with one another, but as we continued, this really helped us connect and we found ourselves organically wanting to share more appreciation for each other.
- Then, we take turns sharing 3 things we appreciate about ourselves. This takes the personal appreciation exercise I shared a few weeks ago to the next level.
This is you choosing something you appreciate about yourself (hard) and then sharing it with the other person (harder).
At first, this can feel impossible. We tend to undervalue ourselves, or even feel embarrassed about being proud of things we’ve done—large or small. This really forces us to own and acknowledge our personal work, accomplishments and growth—while sharing with someone else.
Christian and I started doing this over a year ago.
It’s made a HUGE difference in our daily lives and interactions with each other, as well as our relationship overall. It gives us an opportunity every day to connect. We’re then given the opportunity to express, to forgive, to ask, to thank, to share and to love.
Relationships are work—this tool is one that helps us put the work in every single day and stay connected.
If you have a significant other you can practice with, I highly recommend it. If not, how about a close friend, or family member? We don’t have kids, but if I ever do have kids, this is something I want to practice with them. I encourage you to give it a try with someone else in your life.
Of course, make sure this is someone you trust, and value.
Sharing is vulnerability, and we should be sharing with people when it’s safe and within our own boundaries. I don’t recommend doing this exercise with an acquaintance or casual friend.
Remember—these “practices” really require sitting down every day with intention and practicing. They’re not easy. But I do believe they are transformational practices.
Have you started a gratitude and appreciation practice?
I feel this tool has provided to opportunity for so much connection in my relationship. My goal is to help you experience this connection in your own relationships, too.
I am so grateful for my gratitude and appreciation practice! And remember, I’m grateful for you, too!
Light & love,