In the 1990’s I worked writing educational materials for the the PeaceBuilders Program, an effective whole-school violence-prevention program for children. In the morning all the children in a given school would recite the PeaceBuilders Pledge. The first tenet, and the one we spent the most time on teaching, is to praise others.
Every classroom sported a Praise Board, on which children would write Praise Notes to each other. These were brief notes on colorful slips of paper in which children were to notice something good someone had done or said, write a praise note, and post it on the board. In the beginning, I think teachers had to make a bit of a game of it to get the kids used to it. After all, in our culture, people are much more prone to criticize and judge others, even gossip about them, than to sing their praises. When this changed the culture in a school, there were reduced fights, reduced bullying, and even reduced school nurse visits.
I learned from this how much each of us hungers for a word of appreciation, and what an effective peace practice it can be.
I would also like to say that Appreciation is a spiritual practice that makes life sweeter. It is a decision to be present to the good and lovely, and not so much to focus on what appears to be lacking. This way of looking out at the world brings more joy to the day, more love and harmony to every relationship, more excellence to every task. Every day there are hundreds of moments of laughter and beauty and kindness and excellence that we can choose to pay attention to, or to ignore.
Instead of a glass half-full and a feeling of victimhood or an anxious feeling of impending doom, we can go through life with a glass full to overflowing and a happy expectation that there is more where that came from. The strangest part of that is that the more good you notice, the more you have. That is the Law of Attraction at work.