Being polite and thankful is more than just good manners; it forms the bedrock of a well functioning society.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
At Revolution 2.0™, we have spoken about gratitude, EP 180, 12 Nov 19, being fundamental to living a happy and contributing life. Politeness, good manners, “Please” and “Thank You” are just some of the outward manifestations of gratitude.
Let’s start with an easy example. Many of us have either had someone help us move furniture or we have received that help–perhaps even involving a complete household move. Help like that is rewarded by profound thanks, plenty of food and beverages, and the unspoken but sure knowledge that the person receiving this favor would be just as happy to come through for the other person at any time.
Now let’s look at a somehow less clear example. I say somehow, because it was not always less clear. Gift receiving. The saying that it is better to give than receive is absolutely correct, but it is not complete. When one receives a gift, the receiver must then become the giver, a giver of thanks. I was taught that when I received a gift that I needed to sit down and take the time to hand write a thank you note. And that note needed to include why and how the gift was appreciated and used along with a sincere expression of thanks. For example, if I received a new battery operated toy car, I would include information about where I would use it and how my friends would get to enjoy it with me. If the gift was cash, I was taught to tell the giver what I was going to do with the money, and why that was important to me.
And have you ever heard the phrase “bread and butter” note? If you were invited to someone’s home for dinner, in addition to bringing something to share you would write a note of thanks afterwards: the bread and butter note. Thank yous like these were not to be done grudgingly; they were done with the same level of care and generosity as the original gift, whether the gift was a tie (remember those?), cash or a home cooked meal.
What happened? Today, even a hastily done voice to text thank you email or text message seems to be too much for most people. Is it because the gift was deemed insufficient? Because the gift was seen as their due? Because the receiver saw himself as entitled to the gift? Ha. I think we are onto something here. Entitlement. If someone sees themselves as entitled, a thank you might be seen as unnecessary. Hold that thought for a moment.
For now, we’ll go back to the gift giver. Back in the day, before online research and Internet shopping, a giver would need to hoof it from store to store to find just the “right thing.” Then find a card, wrap the gift, and often stand in line at the Post Office to mail it, making sure that it was sent in time to arrive for an event. Today, many people, and I am one of them, enjoy the ease of Amazon’s one-click shopping, stored send-to addresses and credit card numbers. Does that mean that the gift is less appreciated? That gratitude can be moderated, if any gratitude is present at all, downwards in line with the ease of shopping? Or has taking the time to express gratitude in a meaningful and memorable way become as obsolete as manual transmission cars and 3-channel TVs; you know, the ones without remote controls? Absolutely not. Moreover, that is destructive thinking.
It all starts with gratitude. Gratitude is the bedrock, the touchstone–cornerstone–for any effective philosophy, religious dogma, or simply a way to get through life or the day successfully. Ingratitude makes for a grim and unproductive outlook on life, love and politics. Without gratitude, there is an inescapable emptiness; not a yearning, but a feeling of being ungrounded. This makes for a fertile ground for resentful thoughts of unfairness or “Why me?” Or worse, comparing ourselves to others.
Expressing thankfulness is valuable only to the extent that it is expressed in a way that it is understood and appreciated by the other person. The person gifting you did not get you what they wanted, or even what they wanted you to want; the gift was selected because it had meaning for you. In the same way, express your thanks, your gratitude, in a way that means something to them, not in a way that you think it should be meaningful to them. The gift was about you; the thank you is about them.
And we are not exchanging a unit of gifts for an equal unit of thanks. If the gift was small or off target, step up and express real gratitude regardless. In other words, do more that you think is “necessary.” That is how anything grows and spreads, including gratitude.
Let’s tie thankfulness and gratitude to taxpayer funded programs; anything from roads to welfare. Just as we should remember to be thankful for the simple things like running water and a safe place to sleep, we should also remember that people, taxpayers, real people, paid for the roads that we get to use. And workers, again real people, built them–often in unpleasant conditions. Yes, it is okay to complain about potholes the size of a Volkswagen, but for every complaint let’s throw in a thank you for being able to drive anywhere from around the neighborhood to across the country.
Taxpayers provide everything from national defense to community events. Do we ever stop and say thank you, even just saying something out loud to ourselves? How about a call expressing gratitude to your local taxpayer-funded government? A letter to the editor in your local paper? A call to a talk show? I am not making the case that we should be happy about everything that government does. Far from it, as any regular reader or listener will know. I am making the case for gratitude instead of entitlement.
Today’s Key Point: Gratitude and meaningful thankfulness raises us, the people around us, and society as a whole, to new lofty and highly desired levels. Entitlement crushes everything.Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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- “Dona Nobis Pacem”: Give Us Peace (EP. 338) - June 11, 2021