Several years ago we hung an Appreciation Banner in our house. It is a piece of burlap with a pocket sewn on for each person and a pocket for paper and pens and a pocket for all the world. The idea is not my own completely – I co-created it with a dear friend and co-author of my previous book.
It is the simplest of tools and of designs and yet the effect this banner has on our family is nothing less than profound.
Too often as parents and as partners we see what’s not working…pick up your clothes, make your bed, put your backpack away, do your homework, you left the sponge in the sink, don’t talk to me that way, and on and on it can go.
This banner fosters the opposite.
Every now and then we call it into action. We invite everyone to stuff the pockets with written appreciations both big and little. This changes the way we see things. It makes me as a mom and a partner look for the things that are working and the things that are good and happy and fun and celebratory.
It could be something as simple as appreciating that a child got up for school so cheerfully or took out the trash the first time they were asked. It could be an appreciation for an apology or a smile when you needed it most. It could be for someone else or even for yourself. It could be for anything in the world.
When the pockets are stuffed full, we make an announcement that we will read them aloud. There is usually one last mad dash to stuff the pockets a little more. The last minute flurry is always exciting!
I am continuously amazed that this appreciation muscle gets stronger the more I use it. And the kids feel this way too, that the more you appreciate, the more there seems to be to appreciate.
Then at dinner each person is handed the stack from their pocket. We go around the table and read them aloud and it feels so good. And it makes us want to do it again and again. Because whether you are reading the things that people appreciate about you or hearing people read the things that you appreciate about them, it just feels like pure joy. And who couldn’t use a little more of that in their home?
Try it. I think you’ll like it.