The Dalai Lama said, “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
I had the grumpiest teacher at school. We were all terrified of her. I can still remember to this day how I felt when I forgot to complete one of my homework assignments. My stomach was twisted with anxiety. I felt sick. I’m sure every one of us kids who ever got told off by her felt exactly the same way.
Imagine my surprise when my mum gave me a box of chocolates to give to my grumpy teacher on the last day of school before Christmas. I couldn’t believe it. I thought “why should I give her chocolates?” I thought “why does my mum want to go out of her way to make this woman happy”. I was totally stupefied. Here I was taking a gift of appreciation to a teacher who was always horrible to me.
But my mum told me to so I did, because my mum’s smarter than I am (that was true then and it’s true now).
When I gave the teacher the box of chocolates she was every bit as surprised as I was. I told the teacher I hoped she had a fantastic Christmas. Honestly you should have seen the look on her face. Her whole face lit up. Her expression completely changed. She was no longer the grumpy teacher but a friend. One box of chocolates had turned someone I thought was an enemy into an immediate friend.
And from then on I knew the beauty of giving someone a gift. There’s something magical that happens when you’re kind, when you extend your generosity. You know the feeling, that magical moment of warmth. It’s like your sharing a special moment with someone.
What my mum knew back then was that the teacher was not a bad person. She was just someone who had been ground down, someone who needed a reminder of the goodness of life. We can all use reminders like that, the occasional surprise that lifts your chin up and makes you think, “Hey. Everything all right.”
When I finished university I worked in a call centre giving advice for investors in stock market transactions. A lot of the people who called us were grumpy. I took it upon myself to change that, just by a little thing: I genuinely cared whether they had a good day. I was happy to talk to them, I was patient… I didn’t do anything amazing, I just made sure to be nice.
Sometimes the littlest thing can make someone’s day. I tried to be that little thing that made people’s days.
I didn’t stay at the call centre for long. It wasn’t the sort of work that I can’t hack for any real length. I know it’s not that hard and that there are much worse jobs out there, but it just wasn’t for me. But one thing I learnt at that call centre was the importance of the little things.
It’s important to open your eyes to the little things people do. Like the girl at the garden centre yesterday, the girl who looked genuinely interested when she asked me how my day was. Or the people who work in stores who genuinely want to help you make the right decisions because they know that money doesn’t grow on trees. Or the public servants who make sure the city is in order. Or my fellow bloggers who reach out to me and share my articles on Facebook, Twitter amd on their sites. OR… everyone…honestly… everyone.
You know, I could go on being thankful to everyone and I wouldn’t stop anytime soon. Because the truth is that it takes all of us to make this world work. And it’s important that we appreciate the important jobs we all do.
It’s funny, because you never stop hearing people go on about celebrities. But I’m not so sure that it’s the rich and the famous that matter. I think it’s you and I that really matter. I think it’s we regular folk who make the cogs turn. We’re the ones that matter, aren’t we? We should all extend thanks to one another. We should all say, “You know, this world wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for you. So thanks. Thanks for all those little things you do.”
And while I’m at it, I’d like to extend my thanks to you too.
Yeah, you. You. Not the other people you think this article was written for. I mean you. Thanks. Because without readers a writer isn’t really worth a damn. You make me me. Honestly. I mean that. Without readers I wouldn’t be a writer. If I weren’t a writer I wouldn’t be me. So without you I would not be me. So thanks for making me me.
And it’s the same for all of us. Without the people around us we wouldn’t be the people we are. So, if I may say so, I’d like to recommend something to you. I’d like to recommend that you take five minutes right now to say thanks to the people around you, to express appreciation and gratitude.
It’s amazing what can happen when you show appreciation. You can make friends. You can make someone’s day. You can be a source for happiness, just by showing appreciation.
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