This morning I was driving the boys to school and we started sharing some of the things we appreciate. Creating appreciation on the way to school is a rich tradition our family started 3 years ago.
On this day, it was Matthew’s turn to start off expressing his appreciation. When I asked him to begin, he said, “Mom; I can’t think of anything I appreciate.” I knew it was time to get creative.
When we cannot remember something positive to enjoy or we struggle to think of something good to appreciate, it is often a good indicator we have fallen out of relational mode. Our relational circuits are dimmed and offline. (1) While reflecting on the people, moments and things we appreciate tends to be a good way to help us shift back into relational mode, there are times we are so far offline that even appreciation alone does not do the trick . Here is when we need a little inspiration with some insight to find our sweet spot once again.
With my 9-year old son Matthew for example, we have noticed that humor is one of the fastest ways to help him find his relational seat once again after he has fallen out. Knowing this, I shared something I knew would make him laugh and, sure enough, his countenance quickly brightened, and he showed a hint of a smile in his eyes. I then encouraged him to consider looking outside the window for a moment to see if he can identify something he feels thankful for. He looked out the window and proclaimed, “Snow, and playing in the snow at recess!” This realization quickly broke the ice, and we continued our rounds of appreciation on the drive to school.
Humor will not work for everyone. For some of us, humor makes us feel discounted, dismissed or even minimized. For my son Andrew, he desires connection and often a snuggle or two to help him get back to relational mode when he is so far gone that appreciation does not work. For me, sometimes it is the lack of quiet time in my routine that makes appreciation lose its flavor and potency. After a bit of time quieting, along with some deep breathing and interacting with Immanuel about what He wants me to know, I can begin to feel my mind slow down and then I am clearer and primed to better bask in appreciation. For many, the Shalom My Body sequence jumpstarts the relational circuits once again.
Appreciation is an incredible tool for our relational tool belts, and it is helpful to have some additional options to embrace when we struggle to warm up with appreciation. Some people enjoy getting out for a walk, looking at nature, exercising and more. You can learn more information on relational circuits and appreciation with the recording from the recent Relational Building Blocks event, “Building My Joy”
There are many good resources to learn more on this important topic. (2) I hope you will continue to practice the steps that bolster your relational circuits for more relational living.
- Learn more about this in Dr. Karl Lehman’s Outsmarting Yourself book.
- The Outsmarting Yourself book along with Belonging in the Connexus program and THRIVE Training offers a number of practice steps to notice how it feels to be in relational mode and to quickly recover once you notice you are offline.