Being Grateful means, by Oxford’s definition, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; having or showing the desire or reason to thank someone for giving pleasure or comfort. Being Grateful means you know you are indebted to someone for some action undertaken by them that benefited you in some manner and consciously acknowledging that appreciation. Gratitude can take unnumbered shapes and forms, from tickets to the hottest show in town to a brand new Porsche (theoretically speaking, of course), but often gratitude comes in gentler doses; a simple inclination of the head, a tearful, wordless hug, a handshake and poignant look into another’s eyes. Yet however it comes, it is one of the most important things we can ever do.
Expressing gratitude rewards; it builds bridges, it alleviates tensions, it sets a higher standard, but it also opens the doors and windows to blessings untold. It sets aside our baser, more selfish tendencies and allows us to be, if only for a few moments, the people we all wish we could be far more frequently. It makes princes out of paupers and, conversely, paupers out of princes; it is a leveler of scores and a righter of wrongs and no matter how it is expressed, if it is genuine, it is always significant.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a laborer working at some menial job; cleaning bathrooms perhaps, collecting garbage, mopping floors somewhere. Every day you come in on time, do your job conscientiously and without complaint; you leave only when your task is done completely and correctly, but no one ever says a word to you. If you didn’t do this job, the resulting mess would be atrocious, yet people pass by you all the while you work, stepping to the far side of the hall or moving to the other side of the room rather than approaching you and no one, not even your boss, tells you that you are doing a good job.
Then one day, out of the blue, a complete stranger comes up to you and says Thank You. They tell you they truly appreciate your willingness to do a job that not many others would do and they even go so far as to shake your hand, although you are grimy and they are pressed and polished. It only takes a moment, then they go on their way, but their simple act changes everything. You hold your head higher, walk with a lighter step; you go home, tell those close to you what happened, share how good it made you feel and, regardless of the fact that no one, not even your boss, has ever told you how important you are, you value yourself much more highly.
When you go back to work, you feel so good, so essential, you begin taking on extra responsibilities without being asked; you work a few extra minutes each day tidying up or polishing something that has been neglected for months. You talk to people more willingly; you share a smile more easily; you begin noticing the things that others do, which go unspoken, and you take time to extend a token of appreciation to them. A small note of thanks for cleaning the windows so well or a bottle of water for the man cutting the grass outside in the summer heat, and as a result of all of this, you feel even better about yourself.
Not too long after this change occurs, your boss stops by unannounced to speak with you. He tells you that he has noticed what a great job you’ve been doing lately, how hard you have been working and how well you treat your coworkers and the company’s clientele. He explains that a new position has recently been created by management, one for which he feels you would be perfect, and asks if you would be interested in a promotion and a raise. Then he stands back and watches you smile.
And all because someone thanked you.
Yes, Gratitude is a miracle worker, and if we remember to be thankful for our blessings, big or small, trite or unique, miraculous or mundane, our appreciation invariably opens the floodgates and allows Heaven to send down Showers of Blessings beyond imagining.