“It’s about time!” Have you ever said this to someone who had done something good? I’ve been guilty myself of saying it. What a negative remark about something positive! It occurs to me that if we said, “That’s terrific! I’m so glad you did that” each time we want to say, “It’s about time!” our relationships would flow much more smoothly.
Appreciation is the key to strengthening relationships. “But that’s his job!” you might say, when your husband takes out the garbage or your boss has a focused agenda and a well-run meeting. Yes, it is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be appreciative for it.
Selfishness, it seems to me, is the root of all sin and misery in this life. Appreciation takes the spotlight off me and puts it on the other person in a positive way. I can feel good about reframing the thought, and the other person feels good about what he or she has done and about my reaction to it.
Everything from political corruption to divorce seems rooted in selfishness. I see it in myself whenever I take time for self-analysis related to a problem I’m dealing with. I notice it particularly in marriages—mine and others.
I have a lengthening list of married couples I pray for. About six years ago, I began praying that all of us would be unselfish and thoughtful and appreciative of each other. Praying this daily is a good reminder to me to show those characteristics to my own husband Steve. But such prayers, as it turned out, have their rewards to me personally.
The reason I know it was around six years ago is a gift Steve gave me a few months after I started praying that we’d all be more thoughtful and appreciative. Usually birthday gifts from him are lovely but are what he likes. This time he sent me on a trip with my two favorite cousins. How selfless of him! It was a marvelous present.
Months later, I realized that that trip was an answer to the prayer I’d been praying for all those couples, including us. He couldn’t have been more unselfish and thoughtful than with that particular gift.
People might at first be startled at your positive comments. “Thanks for emptying the dishwasher” or “thanks for giving the kids their baths” or “thanks for doing a good job on that project” might be in that “it’s about time you …” category, but will be accepted as long as the tone is genuine. (Remember—sarcasm negates the effort!)
Just thinking about the ten commandments, isn’t selfishness the root of each “Thou shalt not”? Murder, steal, commit adultery, covet. Even not honoring our parents is rooted in selfishness.
Obviously physical problems cause great suffering and are not connected to selfishness or unselfishness, though the way we react to them can be. If you can think of other miserable situations that are not the result of selfishness, do comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.