Word Worth®
                      World Magazine of Ideas and the Arts™ — ©Fall 2018 Volume XVIII,  Issue 4

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Columns

Gratitude

Oprah Winfrey explains that she’s not grateful that she’s a gazillionaire, but is a gazillionaire because she’s grateful.

Oprah’s revelation does not mean that you can become a billionaire by being grateful, but being grateful and showing gratitude will make your life better.

Her statement needs to be a guide in these times when “social media” –which is in reality antisocial media—enables and exacerbates behavior that was once confined to those who were ill bred. Graciousness is receding in too much of our social interactions, but simple expressions of thanks spread in very good ways.

A neighbor mentioned to me that she was in a hurry in line at the grocery store and had to get back to an ill family member. As a result, she was irritable. The kid who was clerk looked both bored and unhappy in his work, but he did a very good job, and my neighbor got checked out quickly. Relieved, she said to the clerk, “That was very efficient. Thank you.”

At hearing that compliment, the kid smiled. His whole face lit up. It was as though his boring job became much easier.

A medical client entering a lab for a routine blood test was called in and asked about the specific test to ensure that there were several done at the same time. It didn’t take long to discover that the technician called in the wrong person and would have taken blood and submitted it for something completely unrelated to what was needed. That was very irritating in addition to the irritation of having to be there to begin with, and no one likes having a needle stuck in their arm. None-the-less, the client was again called in after the person needing the other test left. The technician was pretty good at drawing blood, not the best, but far from the worst. The client thanked her for being pretty good at the task. The technician was very pleased and apparently had not typically been thanked for doing her job very often if at all.

Similarly, in one of those compulsory companywide meetings, a speaker was hired whose expertise was nutrition—how boring is that. But the speaker made the subject interesting, informative, and very funny. Everyone loved it. When he was finished, he rushed out of the room when someone called out, “Well done!” He suddenly paused, looked around and saw who had said that, walked over to shake the person’s hand and said, “You made my day!”

If we can make someone’s day that easily, we should all be doing it.  Graciousness, congeniality, and common courtesy can easily be taught from the cradle. When a baby first hands you a gooey piece of ziebeck or anything at all, the proper thing to do is say, “Thank you.” It will become an automatic response when the child is given something. Yet, we’ve allowed rudeness to become a status symbol, and thankfulness taken as a sign of being lower on the totem pole, being “phony” and unworthy.

In order to live in the kind of community, society, country, and world that we want to, we’re really going to have to change that.

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