Home is Where the Heart Is

Life Coach: Positive attention at home has clear payoffs

click to enlarge Robert Maurer is a Spokane psychologist, consultant and author.
Robert Maurer is a Spokane psychologist, consultant and author.

The title above may not be original, but poetically, it captures the primary source of our nourishment. Food and shelter, of course, are basics. For true well-being, however, we humans have another need that is just as essential: the need for attention and appreciation.

We are aware of this need in children, who unabashedly call out: "Mommy, Daddy, look at me!" We respond naturally with praise, a hug or by posting their brilliant works on our refrigerator doors. What is less understood, however, is that human beings never outgrow this need.

Consider John and Julie Gottman's extraordinary research on the predictors of romantic success. They discovered that, in couples who were thriving, positive attention was five times more common than negative (e.g., criticizing, ignoring, etc.). Positive attention consisted of small moments and gestures each day, such as taking your partner's hand across the dinner table, putting the phone or newspaper down when your mate walks through the door, or your voice lighting up when they call home, rather than implying that they have interrupted something more important.

Such findings may be a key to success in all of our closest relationships, whether partner, child, parent, sibling, housemate or friend. Home is where love and friendship are birthed and nourished. It is where we feel most cared for, heard, seen and known, and it is hopefully a place where our human need for appreciation is frequently met.