What If Appreciation Always Accompanied Expectation In Our Daily Lives?

14 Feb

I just returned from a brief trek through the snow/ice/thunderstorm we’re having in Philadelphia, PA. I had no choice but to face the elements because I was out of coffee, and the headache was already raring its head.

The first person I saw was a man working very hard to free our sidewalks of what was clearly a very deep, very thick and very heavy combo of snow, ice and slush.  I said, ‘thank you’ and continued on my journey to the coffee shop.

Minutes later, I saw a woman outside a highly populated office building shaking the ice and snow off of what I’m certain were extremely cold and heavy doormats. She was clearly working hard to ensure that no one slips on their way in or out of the building. I made a point of catching her eye and smiling as I passed her.

Fast forward a few blocks, and I arrived at my beloved coffee haunt and purchased my latte. With fuel in hand, I was about to use all of my weight to exit through the shop’s ultra heavy door when a random passerby, who had no intention of entering the store, stopped and held the door for me. I gave him a huge smile and thanked him twice for his kindness. I am fairly certain we both walked away feeling a little lighter from our brief encounter.

When I returned to my condo building, one of the women who normally sits behind the desk in our lobby had stationed herself outside in the zero degree weather because the front door wasn’t opening automatically like it should, and she wanted people to be able to get into the building as quickly as possible. Yes, you guessed right. I thanked her.

With the exception of the man who held the door for me at the coffee place, all of the people I have mentioned here are paid to do what they were doing. In this way, it’s reasonable for us to expect it. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also be grateful to them for their efforts, which in these instances must have been less than enjoyable. And, by grateful, I don’t simply mean we should feel it. I mean taking the millisecond that it takes to outwardly express your appreciation. A smile is certainly great, but to say thank you (or some variation thereof) is even better. If you make eye contact and direct your words at them, they will have no choice but to realize they are the intended recipient of your appreciation.

Having these moments during my 20-minute journey made me think about how often I spend my days in a state of expectation and forget to allow feelings of appreciation to enter my mind and, moreover, to express them. I’m referring here to the things that are so regular and so ingrained in our course of daily living that it is easy to take them for granted.

My mail being delivered to my door each and every day (with the exception of holidays, of course). My trash picked up every week (with the exception of holidays and massive snowstorms, which is understandable). My streets cleared of snow, litter and goodness knows what else on a regular basis.

We are quick to get annoyed – and often feel our world is being rocked – when the things that are part and parcel of our daily lives don’t happen the way we expect them to, but how often do press the pause button on our over-cluttered, often racing and high expectation-oriented minds and take a moment to let ourselves feel genuine appreciation for ordinary things when they do happen? How often do we skip right over a well-deserved level of appreciation due to our (over-heightened?) expectation that something will be done?

What if we all operated with the mindset that appreciation should always accompany expectation, that there is, without a doubt, a naturally occurring symbiotic relationship between expectation and appreciation? I have no doubt that our individual and collective frame of mind would be all the better for it. Moving forward, I aspire to live much more fully in this manner and hope that upon reading this ever so simplistic piece I have encouraged you to follow suit.

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