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Making Someone’s Day

Story of the Day for Friday January 20, 2012

Making Someone’s Day

                    “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” 

                                                            Proverbs 25:11

Yesterday I received a letter of appreciation from Larry and Rose.  It was so thoughtful and it made my day.

At a 1995 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a study on doctors was revealed.  Researchers gave 44 physicians a “hypothetical” patient’s symptoms and asked each physician to diagnose the illness.  Half of the doctors were given candy and were told it was a token of appreciation for their participation in the study.  The other half were given nothing.

Alice Isen, a Cornell University psychologist, said the doctors receiving the candy did far better in diagnosing the patient than those who received nothing.

Appreciation lifts people up and increases their competence.


For some reason most of us persist in the notion that criticism is far more helpful in improving others.  And don’t get me wrong – criticism is sometimes necessary.  But ask yourself, do you perform better in life when criticized or encouraged?

So why are we reluctant to express our appreciation to others?  I don’t really know why.  But I do know that showing appreciation is a healthy spiritual practice.  When we tell someone we appreciate them, it is a way of saying that we are indebted to them for what they have done for us.


John Busacker once told a story about Bill, a member of the Board of Regents for a Christian college in Pennsylvania.  Bill was boarding a flight for a flight to Pittsburg when the public address system paged his name.  If he didn’t board immediately he would miss his flight.  But he got out of line to take the message.

Bill’s secretary called him to say the Board of Regents meeting was cancelled and she had re-booked him for a flight home.  When he reached his home town of Atlanta, he called his wife at the airport to pick him up.  There was a long pause and then his wife began sobbing.  “Obviously you haven’t heard the news.  The flight you were supposed to be on crashed and everyone on board has been killed.”

The point is not that the Lord protects us from all harm.  What about the people who died in the crash? Bill was unfazed by the incident.  He knows he’s in God’s hands and trusts in Jesus to bring him to heaven.  But, here’s the point: after the story spread, many people came up to Bill to say how much they appreciate him and how he has touched their lives.  The close call created an awareness of how much we appreciate others.

In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”

Do you agree?  So, what should we do?  Why don’t we procrastinate?  How about if we put off a hand-written “letter of appreciation” to someone for. . .oh, a half hour.  Get a cup of coffee.  Then think of someone who has touched your life.  You might be surprised at the joy you find in making someone’s day.

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)