Whether it is raising your hand in the classroom, letting someone in your lane of traffic or just hoping someone in your day will notice your new haircut, everyone wants to be acknowledged. We like it, it's important. It validates us as human beings and confirms our place in the world.
I was raised by my grandmother and every single time one of her grand or great-grand children was brought over or came by, she acted like she'd just won the lottery. She just lit up! Even when she got into her nineties, she'd almost jump out of that old rocking chair of hers and give you a "hug around the neck." Let me tell you, you haven't been hugged until a ninety-five year old woman, unaware of her own strength, puts you in a strangle hold! You might lose consciousness but it was something you had to endure because she loved you.
Growing up with her example, I guess I equated acknowledgment with approval. They seem to go hand-in-hand. Even though you can be acknowledged for your wrong turns and mistakes, being recognized for simply existing is a basic human need. For example, we hire people--mostly grandmothers--at my hospital's nursery to just hold the babies. Sometimes, the babies are born addicted, very ill or in rare cases born then abandoned. Even though the babies can neither speak, know what's being said or going on, they respond to being held. This is the most powerful weapon we have against "Failure To Thrive "syndrome. "Failure To Thrive" is exactly as it sounds. Babies who are not held or 'symbolically' acknowledged do not thrive. They tend to weigh less, eat less and react less to their surroundings resulting, at times, in developmental problems that effect them the rest of their lives. They may be only hours or days old but they respond to a loving kind of interaction and the acknowledgment that someone values them.
In this Thanksgiving/Christmas season, let's all make an effort to be grateful for what we have and acknowledge those around us. Notice his/her abilities, aspects of their personality you especially love---praise goofiness! Turn something he or she sees as a flaw and make it a fabulous trait. Notice the color of their eyes. Hell, notice them breathing! Make their day. Make their day the way each of you make mine. Light 'em up!