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A Gift of Appreciation

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It can be confronting to have someone publicly tell you that you are full of crap.


I run seminars on healthy sleep. Night after night I meet people who are suffering with varying degrees of sleep deprivation caused by a whole host of different health issues. Mostly people are compassionate to each other as together we explore what we have to do to improve our sleep.


And then you have people like Joe.


Through the course of the seminar I discuss the things that impact our sleep, things like stress, temperature, hygiene, posture etc. And as the seminar progressed Joe became more and more sourly, glowering at me over crossed arms and whispering comments to his daughter sitting next to him.


Usually I let this go, most people will politely talk amongst themselves at times. But I sensed that Joe's behaviour was causing some distress with the other guests, so the next time Joe mumbled in the corner I politely asked, "Sorry what was that?"


He paused for a second, seeming to size me up, and then he let rip.


"Mate," he proclaimed with a scowling tone, "I've been listening to what you been saying but the human body is the most adaptable thing in the world. Just look at the soldiers, I was a soldier and we never had to worry about the crap you are going on with. We slept on the hard ground night after night and just look at me."


Taken a little by surprise, a little offended at being told my comments were "crap", and keenly aware of the eyes of all the other guests watching me, my first response wasn't the best:


"OK sure, I appreciate what you have said Joe" I said, "But what kind of condition is a soldier's body in by the time they hit 40?"


Several members of the audience voiced their agreement with what I had said, but I had made a mistake ... I had begun to argue a point and this is exactly what my friend Joe was looking for. I had also indirectly criticized him.


"Mate I was a soldier and I am fine, fit as a fiddle!" he retorted, his scowl deeping. He was digging himself in for a fight.


Fortunately I found my centre again, took a breath, and forced myself to think clearly.


And I realised that here before me was a battle worn old man who felt totally unappreciated and who felt that he had to fight to win that appreciation from others. Someone whose sense of importance hinged on getting one up on someone else in an argument.


With that sliver of clarity I said:


"You know Joe, you are absolutely right. The human body is the most adaptable thing in the world. That's right isn't it?"


He responded, "Yes it is."


"And you know what Joe?" I asked, "You should be congratulated and admired. You went through the hard yards of being a soldier and look how well you have come through. Mate, good for you!"


He was stunned, a look of total bewilderment puzzled his face. I was perhaps the first person to show him genuine heart felt appreciation in years.


"Well I guess I was lucky," he mumbled.


"Yes mate," I followed, "You were lucky and not many of us can be as lucky as you are. Good for you that you have done so well. And for those of us here tonight that aren't as lucky as you we have to do everything we can to load the dice in our favour. Would you agree with that?"


"Well yes I suppose so," Joe answered.


"That is what tonight is really about," I said, "It's about finding out how we can load the dice in our favour so that we can enjoy better sleep which of course leads to better health. Would you agree with that Joe?"


He answered, "Yes", and was happy for the rest of the night.




So the next time you find yourself heading toward an argument with someone stop and ask yourself, "How is it from this person's point of view? How do they want to be appreciated and how can I give them that appreciation in a sincere way?"


You will be amazed at how smoother and harmonious life will become for you. :)

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