What is the best gift someone can give you?
One way to answer this question is by asking it about myself… What is the best gift someone can give me?
Now, if I scratch off my immediate needs (money, time, a vacation) and imagine instead reflecting upon the entirety of my life, as a whole – including the future when I am old, and my children are grown and raising their own families.
The best gift someone could ever give me is the knowledge and proof that my life and decisions mean something and make a difference, no matter how small, in this big world.
If this knowledge went deep into the core of my being so that I never doubted, wondered, or back-slid – that what I do every day is making a difference in the world, I’d be forever grateful.
– oof!! That is deep and a little heavy, no!?!?
“Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be valued, to be appreciated.”~ Brené Brown
Got it. So Dr. Brown is saying I have immediate and long-term physical survival needs. I also have immediate and long-term psychological survival needs. And those psychological needs are those are to be understood, to be affirmed, to be valued, and to be appreciated.
Sure, I have immediate needs that are valid and take daily priority: there are always bills to pay, a yard that needs tending. I have a never-ending list of tasks from meals to cook, dishes and laundry, my kids keep growing out of shoes and clothes. I want to go on more on date nights with Rebekah.
So, the question is:
Is there a way to tie a great gift into a person’s life meaning?
Viktor Frankel wrote, “For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”~ Victor Frankel
Got it, so Dr. Frankel says meaning at a given moment is critical. In the here and now, I should be seeking meaning. And I like to imagine that a life full of moments of meaning adds up to a full life of meaning – even if what I do changes over time.
A follow-up question:
Can I give a great gift for the here and now, and is it still a great gift over the long run?
The answer is ‘yes.’ For example, I have a pocket knife I got when I was 13 that I still use and love for 30+ years. That was a unique gift that was very relevant for a young man in the moment. Most gifts I’ve received couldn’t be described as enduring-relevant.
Would it be possible that this gift helps me in some way in addition to the person I’m giving it to?
Wait, what!!?? Why should a gift benefit the giver? Isn’t that selfish?
Well, sometimes we need help too. I love this quote by JmStorm:
“The ones who need to be held the most are often too busy trying to hold others with their broken arms”~ JmStorm
Giving the best gift ever takes time, energy, thought, and money. Ideally, giving a gift like this to someone that matters to you can be a positive experience for you as the giver. Many of us are broken in various ways at various times in our lives. And yet, we still give.
I’m reminded by this quote that it is often those that give that need to receive the most. Also, it is okay to receive through the act of giving. I’d love it if we gave ourselves more permission to experience and enjoy the reciprocity of what we do for others, including giving a gift.
Well, I’d argue that The Appreciation Company has created a service that is The Best Gift Ever. It’s all in the name: appreciation. Appreciation with a twist. Well, many twists, really.
Here is what our service does and why it is the best gift ever:
Our service offers digital notes, photos, and videos where someone can express appreciation to someone else. Also, monetary balances can be given. These balances are redeemed for eGift Cards of the recipient’s choosing – which makes the gift 100% useful for the recipient. And because Appreciation Albums are digital, they are available in perpetuity and don’t take up any physical space.
A heartfelt note is deeply meaningful now and in the future when saved and enjoyed again.
A note expressing why you are saying thank you touches someone’s heart deeply. Often, people do what they do to foster a sense of belonging. They coach, teach, are counselors, are helpful, kind, generous with their time, etc., because those activities and behaviors anchor them into their community and foster connection between people.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.”~ Brené Brown
Over the long term, if that note is reread in the future, and the reader has enough context to recall who gave the note and why, reading the note will elicit similar emotions as the original reading. Also, the emotions of reciprocity, gratitude, and connection that the original experience had will well up. BTW, this is partly why some people love revisiting old yearbooks from time to time.
So, a heartfelt note, rich in context and conveying why this person matters, is a profoundly impactful gift. It is impactful because your words have the power to fill a person’s need for belonging, the need to feel loved, and the needs embedded in psychological survival: to be understood, to be affirmed, to be valued, and to be appreciated.
This is the core of what we do at The Appreciation Company
I read once that smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. The human brain can detect over a trillion different smells. That’s an incredible sniffer we have, no? And smelling something can trigger memories. Well, we haven’t figured out digital smell, sorry. A close second sense tied to memory is sight and then sound. Pictures and videos are rich with context.
The Appreciation Company includes the option to include a photo or video when a written note is submitted.
Often, the pictures are of children holding notes in their own writing to a teacher, a coach, or a camp counselor. They are genuinely touching and adorable.
The videos submitted often involve the children thanking the person for who they are and what they did.
The parents will write a digital note with their sentiments as adults to complement what the children say.
Monetary balances converted to eGift Cards let the recipient choose their gift.
I’ve written extensively about how teachers and coaches overwhelmingly want the gift of choice when selecting a gift.
Teachers tell us they don’t need another apple-themed coffee mug, socks, scented candle, or lotion.
Coaches don’t need another insulated travel cup, whistle, or clipboard.
This is why The Appreciation Company collects a balance for the recipients of the gifts. The recipients then convert that balance to eGift Cards of their choice at the time and for merchants of their choosing.
Cash equivalents have 100% utility for the recipient. And you bypass the uncomfortable feeling of giving cash through a service such as ours. It is a win-win.
Dates and Context are often lost with time, but they matter, and this information can be retained.
Far too often, I can’t remember who gave a gift, when it was given, and why. I know the pocket knife was given to me on my 13th birthday, but I can’t remember who gave it. Some books I’ve received have a little note written on the inside cover with a date – that is an exception.
I’ll admit (and I don’t think I’m unique here) that I forget most of the context to most of the gifts I’ve received over the years. It is difficult for me to remember the details of the gifts my wife and children have given me.
I’ve also had the experience where I’m reminded of the context of a certain gift – and the emotions come rushing back into me in that movement. I’ve had Rebekah and my children remind me of the date, location, and reason for a gift. When those details are supplied, it is an amazing feeling. The flood of positive memories and joy – usually shared by everyone and not without a little teasing.
The biggest twist of all – giving appreciation makes YOU feel better.
That’s right. It has been scientifically proven that you are happier for the next 30 days when you appreciate someone. Both people are.
Research on happiness, gratitude, and expressing appreciation confirms that acting upon feelings of gratitude benefits both the recipient and the giver. In another study, properly thanking a person, even if done late, creates a surge in happiness for both individuals, with benefits lasting a month.
The research into gratitude, appreciation, and happiness has made it clear that we are happier because appreciating someone affects our sense of identity. The way we act on gratitude affects how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.
In Conclusion, The Best Gift Ever is Being Appreciated
Now, Appreciation Albums include context about the gift. The date, who gave it, and a description of the occasion are all part of an album. This is especially important when enjoying albums a year or many years later.
So, The Appreciation Company is The Best Gift Ever because it meets the criteria we set out for the best gift ever earlier:
- Immediately affirming an individual’s purpose, place, belonging, and impact in the world
- Long-term affirming that the person’s life matters and makes a difference
- Immediately useful, and it is 100% useful because the recipient chooses the gift.
In addition, we build upon that criteria by including the context for the gift, including the date, who gave it, and the occasion with a description.
The vision for The Appreciation Company didn’t start as giving the best gift ever. We wanted to find a way to efficiently and easily appreciate teachers and coaches serving our community meaningfully and enduringly. We uncovered a new mindset around seeing others for who they are and their impact.
Our mission has expanded and deepened to bring meaning to people’s lives. We seek to help others understand that their life and work means something and makes a difference, no matter how small in this big world.
What is the best gift someone can give you?