Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
Rabbi Schmuley Boteach recently wrote an article about the main reason that rabbiâ€™s and other clergy are experiencing burnout is not due to an increase in their work load, but a decrease in gratitude. You do not have to be a religious leader of any kind to notice that people are just not as grateful (or at least not expressing it) as they used to be towards those who do things for them that merit a response of gratitude. There seems to be a sense of entitlement that has overtaken people to the point where the words â€œthank you â€œ is becoming absent from our everyday language.
Recent studies have shown that those who are grateful experience health benefits over those who are not. Robert Emmons shares in his book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier several studies about gratitudeâ€™s connection to health. Emmons and his colleagues conducted one of the studies where they divided participants into three groups, and instructed them to make journal entries on a weekly basis. One group was to write five things they were grateful for, the second group was to described five daily problems and the third group was to list five events that had affected them in some way. Those in the gratitude group felt better about their lives in the long run, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems than the members of the other groups. If you google â€œHealth and gratitudeâ€ an abundant list of articles are available to attest to this fact.
Simply put, in addition to the scientific research, to be grateful is a demonstration of good manners. It is indeed an exquisite form of courtesy that Jacques Maritan so beautifully spoke. It demonstrates that we have an appreciation for people and what they contribute to our lives no matter how big or small. I say thank you when someone opens a door for me. I say thank you to the waiter/waitress who keeps my glass filled with iced tea and asks me if I am enjoying my dinner. I send thank you notes handwritten and mailed, not in emails when I have received a gift or an invitation from a friend or family member. I call my parents on my birthday to thank them for giving me life over the expectation of a gift because it reminds me that if they did not give me life I would have no birthday candles to blow out. I have days when I want to complain more than be grateful, but when I look around me, I realize everyday I have a reason to say â€œthank youâ€ for something, like the little boy who told me was pretty in the drugstore a few days ago. I was very thankful for that compliment, it gave me a smile in the middle of a very difficult day.
Would it kill us to say thank you? To show gratitude when someone does something nice for us even when it is â€œtheir Jobâ€? No animals will be harmed in the process and in this economy, it is free and can be beneficial not only to the recipient but to you as well.