I received a beautiful thank you card today from someone whom I helped out during my recent travels. It started me thinking about the concepts of appreciation and gratitude, and my perception of a change in our societal behavior during the last decade with regards to those qualities.
By way of background, I like to think of myself as a generous person. I share this information, not to toot my own horn, but to give you a better understanding of me and my life’s purpose. I worked long and hard at my career during my entire adult life, and I am blessed to be able to share the rewards of those endeavors.
I feel fortunate to get the opportunity to help people who come across my path, those need a little “helping hand.” I am also lucky to have the time and talents needed to be able to assist people with their projects. I am happy to help someone get their business started or tax filings completed, or support them in an endeavor of which they are passionate.
Having spent my entire adult life in the world of money, I understand about the economic, energetic and spiritual basis of “giving.” Gifts are given without the anticipation of anything being received in return, and there is no expectation as to how the gift will be used.
On the other hand, my personal belief is that a thank-you does not fall into either of those criteria. It is an acknowledgment and an expression of appreciation. And it also represents a simple act of courtesy. There is probably no more irritating situation during the process of giving than needing to contact a person to make sure the gift you sent arrived, after never having heard from them.
I readily admit it – I am one of the dinosaurs on the planet, as I continue to make out handwritten thank-you notes. I know, I am old-fashioned. I still believe there is something inherently special about taking the time to write a note and put it in the snail-mail box. If I don’t have a thank you card on hand, I will at least drop an email to someone to thank them and show my appreciation.
I was surprised on my recent travels, upon giving gifts to several young people, that they did not offer a word of verbal appreciation at the time. That struck me as odd, and foreign to that way I was brought up. I started to wonder why it seems, at least to me, that people have become less appreciative of gifts they receive or, at a minimum, why they believe it is acceptable to not exhibit some level of courtesy to the giver. The following questions started to come to mind:
– Has gratitude been replaced with entitlement?
– Has narcissism taken over where good manners used to be?
– Are we not teaching children good manners, politeness and courtesy?
Maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe “it is what it is.” And maybe I am going to vomit if I hear that term one more time. Even though something “is the way it is,” does that make it an acceptable way of being in the world, or a contribution to a more loving and kind planet.
Luckily, my faith in humanity was at least somewhat restored when I read the beautiful notes I did receive (including yours Kaila Kaden, Bev Lovas and Christie Groskreutz). The authors I assist are some of the most appreciative recipients (Grace Peterson and Mary Nally to name a few). I can feel their gratitude when I receive even a short note or text – and for me it completes the cycle of giving.
And where does all pondering leave me:
– Do I have a clearer understanding of the world’s changing societal behavior – yes.
– Do I now expect an acknowledgment or thank-you from everyone I help – sadly, I will not.
– Will I continue to give graciously to those who I can help – indeed, I will.
I have also questioned if there were times when I myself did not acknowledge a gift properly, or exhibit appropriate appreciation. “Probably” was my honest answer. So to anyone who was hurt or offended by my lack of courtesy – I apologize, and I will work to do better in the future.
For that is all any of us can do, right?