“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” – Voltaire
There is a reason why I don’t like Snow White: I find her very ungrateful.
Imagine you’re sweeping a house and tons of forest animals fly in to help you (some literally). Together, they take care of lots of hard work that otherwise would remain ahead of you. They don’t complain, they don’t slack off, they don’t even ask for any reward. They just come in and help you. Like that.
And what does Snow White do? She snarls at a poor innocent deer for using its tongue to clean plates:
Just exactly how did Snow imagine the deer to do the dishes? By staring at them intently with its big eyes? Stack them in a dishwasher with its hind legs? She should be happy the animal is giving it its best go. And sure, it’s not very hygienic (I surely wouldn’t want to eat from a licked-off plate), but even as a six-year-old I knew there was a better way to explain that to Mr. Deer.
Disney ended up ruining Snow White for me. I never liked her.
She also has a stupid dress.
This mental image is something that I’ve never gotten over. In fact, I call something “The Snow White Effect” when I refer to a situation in which someone has given it their all, yet they don’t receive appreciation for it.
And that’s what I’d like to discuss today: appreciation.
Without it, it’s easy to feel sad or maybe even resentful. When you get too much of it, it’s no good either, because the gratitude will feel fake and will most likely leave you unhappy. Perhaps even a bit suspicious: is the other person really in awe of you or are they merely pretending?
Sometimes, someone expects appreciation for what they did, but what they did was unwanted by you. How do you deal with that?
When I was a child and I had to make these gift-wrappings for Saint Nicholas (don’t even ask – they involve lots of cardboard, coloured papers, glue and creativity). My mother would secretly execute my ideas for me. You know, to save me time.
She never understood what she did wrong, yet I could never be appreciative: I had wanted to do all that work myself! Where my mother expected to see me grateful, I’d be cross with her instead.
So when to be appreciative? When someone has done something and the results are satisfying? Or when in doing something for you, someone has given it their all, but with negative results?
When do I want to be appreciated? I don’t need big words or gestures or constant approval. What I value most is a simple “thank you” when I’ve done my best for you, especially when I think you didn’t notice.
Those two words can brighten up everyone’s day and can motivate you to receive any feedback more positively and work harder.
A little appreciation goes a long way. Unfortunately for Mr. Deer, it probably came too late.