My cousin sent me a video of her one-and-a half year old that instantly warmed my heart. Little Ronav affectionately stroked his mommy’s face several times and ended the act by clapping and cheering himself. The tiny one has already learned to applaud at such a tender age.
Applause, appreciation, compliments. We hear these words so often that it’s worth pondering at the varied dimensions of praise. Whether consciously or subconsciously, most of humanity is gladdened by recognition in some form or the other. I would say that those who claim not to care for any acclaim are definitely the outliers and need to be placed in the rank of the super humans.
Consider the effect of clapping and cheering. We have always related it primarily to sports and entertainment. The sportsman’s victory is met with wild cheers from the crowd. A thunderous standing ovation charges the atmosphere with excitement at the end of a spectacular musical or theatrical show. The performers beam with pride as their hard work and talents are appreciated by the audience. I cannot recollect the last time I have heard anyone shouting “kudos” at the end of a movie. It will not look anything other than funny and too dramatic, so let me not dwell on it. But there is no doubt that actors eagerly wait to get some positive feedback on their performances after their movies are released.
Let me consider the layman. Who says that only the artist and athlete look for praise? The hardworking, efficient individual in the workplace wants to be appreciated by his or her bosses. The dedicated parent nurturing the family with love and affection is happy when the rest of the members make him or her feel loved. The child looks for encouragement and praise for whatever accomplishments and laurels it has achieved.
Applause works so well with the child’s psyche. As a teacher dealing with kids in the age range of 4 to 10, I have seen how it works wonders. A few words of positive reinforcement magically accelerate the performance of students. “I know you are smart; you can do it”, is the simple statement that goes a long way in lifting the child’s morale.
While rambling on about the merits of appreciation and applause, let me throw some light on the downsides as well. One of the most daunting tasks is understanding human behavior. At times, you will be confused and wonder whether a compliment you have received is genuine or sheer flattery. The call is yours to exercise your judgement and decide.
Then, there are two distinct categories of people that we encounter in our day-to-day lives. One class has folks who just cannot appreciate. They always downplay or simply overlook and intentionally bypass the successes and milestones achieved by others. To recognize the feats of someone doing better than them simply hurts their ego.
The other class I’m referring to embraces members who desperately look for praise, or “fish for compliments” as the phrase goes. Psychologists feel that such people are the ones battling with insecurity and trying to establish a battered self-esteem. Let me leave it at that and not analyze further.
At times, the desire for praise reaches such an extent that against all qualms of conscience, one readily accepts the pat on the back and deliberately forgets to speak the truth. In that connection, Larry Page and Sergey Brin come to my mind. So many of us must have blessed them from the core of our hearts because Google comes to our rescue 24/7. Any information we hunt for is readily available once you type those words into the search engine. But that does not give you the privilege of passing on the work of others as your own innovative creation. Now for example, if your ideas for presenting your meal entrées on the holiday theme came straight from the Internet, it’s perfectly fine. However, it’s not fair if you want to take the credit for creativity and originality when the copyright is not yours. If you have made the snowman cheese balls and the Christmas tree look-alike appetizers and displayed your salad in the form of a festive wreath, that itself is commendable. You deserve all the praise for the fruits of your labor. If someone compliments you and says that you are creative, be modest and honest to acknowledge the source of your ideas! That will only put you in high esteem in front of others, and you will still be applauded.
We cannot ignore the power of applause in our lives. The feeling that we matter and are recognized for our contributions is truly precious. Genuine admiration energizes and encourages the human spirit. It’s just that we need to keep the carousel of our existence running by doing all what we love and sincerely enjoy without expecting or looking for praise. Also, it is important to spontaneously step forward to acknowledge and express our appreciation for the achievements of others. The bubble of happiness we create by the small act is infectious and may uplift and touch the life of someone in a way beyond comprehension. So buckle up, smile, and readily give your fellow being that big round of applause!