What the #?! is An Appreciation Feast and Why It Matters

******Happy Thanksgiving 2017!This post first appeared on August 31, 2017 and I felt it was a good day to share it again. When you tell the people you are with what you admire, appreciate and love about them, they get to see themselves from a very different perspective. Take the time to share the love and give some love today! The story shared below is so poignant and so moving. Have a great day!******

When I was thinking of a story I wanted to share that would really illustrate why the Appreciation Feast is so powerful and life changing, I remembered a story I had read about a US soldier who carried in his pocket a worn, brown piece of paper. On that paper was a bunch of childrens’ handwriting.

No one could have known that Mark Eklund had been carrying that paper with him since the third grade. The reason they found out was because he was killed on the battlefield in Vietnam.

At his funeral, Sister Helen, his third grade teacher, was there with several of his classmates. It was then that she discovered that her little classroom exercise had so much impact and meant so much to the children, that even years later, many of them still had kept that little piece of paper. I wanted to know what could have been so important that a person would carry that piece of paper around for almost a decade or maybe even more.

It was something so simple that it can often get forgotten or unnoticed. In the busyness of our lives, we often forget that we are social creatures at heart, and connection and meaning are essential to our well being.

On that day, back in the Third grade, Sister Helen had each child write on a piece of paper the nicest thing they could say about each child in the class. Everyone wrote a sentence and everyone got the sheet of paper.

 They get to see themselves through others’ eyes, and that experience can change their world view. — Christine

The impact of that simple exercise helped Mark and his other classmates through the hard times, through the dark times, and through the times when we all struggle and may ask, “What’s the point?”

Inspired by her example, I modified a practice called, “The Appreciation Feast” to not only  tell people – to their face – the good about them, but also to practice saying it outloud! We don’t hear good words and praise enough. Let me be clear: I am not talking about the kind of praise and good words that says, “Great job!” Or praise that comes without effort; I am talking about the kind of praise that recognizes who we are as individuals (our qualities of being) and in that small act of recognition, people reconnect with that part of themselves.

When they reconnect, they experience more of what they are, and not just the areas that they tend to focus on. They get to see themselves through others’ eyes, and that experience can change their world view.

An example of this kind of praising would be, ” I really appreciate how hard you try to do the right thing, and it touches me that you care so deeply.”

In our culture, we focus so much on what we don’t do right: the weaknesses that must be improved, the shortfalls that have to be “fixed,” and we tend to forget all the things we do do right. Yes, growth means improvement, but growth also means recognizing and appreciating how far we’ve come, as well.

Appreciation Feast. In this short video. You get the idea of how moving this feast can be. Check it out below:

In Four Easy Steps – You can create an event to remember.

Appreciation Feast

  1. Everybody brings their faves: favorite music, favorite food, favorite story, and favorite drinks to share
  2. During the meal, each person will stand up and listen while everyone shares what they like, admire, appreciate or care about the person
  3. Play Table Topics or any sort of Q and A that makes
  4.  Break a way into couples and interview each other on what you stand for, and what matters most to you. You can use the Story Corps App for this if you would like

This is a recipe, if you change the ingredients or the order you change the result. If you want a result that primes you and others to be confident and courageous, do the steps as outlined above, often!

Below is a brief description of Table Topics and Story Corps

Table Topics. So much fun to play, but you don’t need to buy the game. Just look on the internet for some cool questions to share with your family and friends. The answers may surprise you!

Story Corps. Download the free app and use their questions or come up with your own. Interview a friend, or family member and record the conversations. You can choose to upload to the Library of Congress through the StoryCorps app to have future generations hear what that person has to say.

It is just so cool to not only get to know someone even better, but to have their voice and point of view saved for all time. What would it be like for your great-great-great-great grand child to be able to actually hear from your mouth what you have to say?! This short fun video below outlines Story Corps mission and you can learn more about StoryCorps here

The goal of the Appreciation Feast is to create the opportunity for you to share your care with those around you, and when you do, you not only make some meaningful memories, you encourage others to spread the love.

But there is also an added benefit. The more you practice this skill, the better you get at speaking about how you feel and what matters most to you!

Go have some fun!

You got this. Leave a comment, ask a question, I am here to help.

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

Remember, you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!

*Image above: StillFX/iStock


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