Think back to elementary school for a moment. Do you remember the excitement of your teacher handing back a test, only to find it adorned with a bright yellow, metallic star? Oh, the excitement you felt knowing that your teacher took the time to commend you on a job well done. If you were anything like me, this little sticker made your whole day.
You cherished that gold star. You craved more gold stars.
And now tell me this--when was the last time you were given a gold star?
We live in a world where we’re constantly told to improve, that we need to do better. At home, at work, in our relationships—the quest for self-improvement never ends. But what happened to acknowledging the good things we’ve done in our lives and the work we’ve put into making the world a better place?
I’ve mentioned the name Gretchen Rubin on the blog before (I’m in love with all of her books); well, on Gretchen’s podcast “Happier,” she advocates for bringing back gold stars and recognizing when those around you do things that make you happy, help others, or make life easier for others.
It’s an incredibly easy act, but it has the potential to change your entire outlook on happiness and appreciating others.
For the sake of demonstration, here are some of the gold stars I’m giving out this week:
I’m not saying you need to walk around giving actual star stickers to people again (although that would be really fun, so maybe you should do that). I’m not even saying that you need to say, “Gold star!” to those who have earned it.
Simply put, I’m advocating for more appreciation for the people in our lives. Like thanking your husband for doing the laundry because you hate it and really meaning it. Or letting your coworker know how much their extra work on your recent project really meant. “Thank you” goes a long way.
We seem to have so much to complain about, but not enough words of gratitude and appreciation. Start noticing the actions and efforts of those around you, and start telling them how much you value them.
And if you’re reading this, let me tell you how much I appreciate you. Seeing my readership counts creep up every week is what motivates me, so thank you.
Gold star for you.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.