We Appreciate photo from ShutterstockThis week Sandra Bullock addressed a high school graduating class sharing life tips and advice she would share with her younger self. The responses from the students were elation, joy and great appreciation for all of her support of their school and even scholarships she awarded.

Now, that I’ve partnered with Dr. Paul White, creator of Appreciation at Work, who co-authored the book the 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best-selling book, the 5 Love Languages, I’ve become even more increasingly aware of those opportunities and ways that I express genuine appreciation.

What would I tell my younger self about appreciation?

1. Show your gratitude to those who provide services or insights – even if that’s their job.

As a new college graduate, I had a tendency to think “it’s their job, they’re supposed to do that” instead of stopping and realizing how much I appreciate the person who I worked with, did business with, taught me or mentored me.

Now, I realized that not everyone delivers their best. In fact, as Stephen Covey would say, some people share that which is most precious to them – their hearts and minds. Those who do that in their daily interactions also need to be valued and appreciated.

Stop for a moment and think of someone who provides a service or helps you and what your life or future would look like if they were no longer there?  Make sure you stop and genuinely appreciate them today.

2. Looking for what you appreciate in someone reveals more to be grateful for.

The reticular activating system (RAS) is the portal through which nearly all information enters the brain. The RAS filters the incoming information and affects what you pay attention to. When you’re attuned to appreciating people, you will now be more aware of things and people you appreciate in your life. It will feel as if things and people to be grateful for suddenly appeared in abundance (or in three’s). It’s because your awareness is active and you realize and “see” more.

3. Appreciation doesn’t have to be a grand event – often and sincere mean more.

I travel a lot and even though, out of guilt, I buy souvenirs for my children to show them how much I missed them when I was away, all they ever want is time with me.

I would tell my younger self to not focus on appreciation having to be a grand event. It doesn’t have to be expensive nor does it mean having to buy anything at all. Of more importance,  is showing and sharing it often and sincerely.

4. Late is better than never.

In social, we often talk about how content is king and context is queen. Immediacy and relevancy are often in the mix of advice given to be effective on social. When it comes to appreciation, while sooner rather than later is better even later, as long as it’s sincere, can be very effective.

5. Appreciation is not the miracle cure-all, fix-all.

Even if appreciation is genuine, it isn’t a silver-bullet. If you have communication issues, personality issues or have had some negative history with someone, then even genuinely appreciating them will not solve that. Appreciation is not equivalent to “shake hands and we’ll all be friends.”

What appreciation does is let people know that they’re noticed, they’re valued and they’re important in your life (even your work life).  And, when people do not feel valued and important, they are more likely to leave.