We are not, as a culture, known for being grateful people. I don’t say that as an indictment, only an observation. In our world today, gratitude is treated as rare and praise worthy. While I don’t disagree, I wish that the first of those wasn’t true.
Today, however, I got a good dose of the stuff. Today was the yearbook day at the school where I teach. I was actually rather surprised by the number of students who begged me to let them put a few words in mine with a permanent marker while I tried to write something encouraging to them. Now, as I sit behind my desk reading all the personal notes, I feel humbled. These kids are genuinely grateful.
Not necessarily for what you’d expect. Some are grateful I’m energetic and fun. Some are grateful I let them have their own opinions. A very few are grateful I pushed them so hard in their academics this year. A couple are just grateful I’m not the teacher they had last year. Regardless of the motive, I had several dozen students who wanted to express to me their appreciation for what they saw as valuable.
Here’s my take home. If this is how I feel from some very basic and occasionally juvenille thanks, shouldn’t this be something we practice regularly? I was challenged recently to do little things that make the world know we care about them. Leave a large tip. Make the effort to genuinely talk to a stranger in an elevator. Take the time to take an aquaintance to coffee. You know, those things we all know we should do but most of us don’t.
Here’s the idea. Let’s start by just being grateful people. Make sure you thank your waitress next time. If someone has spoken into your life, thank them. Write a note and tell your brother how much his support has meant to you. This isn’t hard. What’s more, as my currently humbled self can attest to, it builds relationships in a very strong way.
It’s worth a shot.