Reading Time: 2 minutes

A moment of kindness can make all the difference

Emily Manns | Fulcrum Staff

THANK YOU. THOSE two words go together like peanut butter and jelly and taste just as sweet. It takes only a few seconds to show your appreciation for something or someone. Whether it is a warm smile, a hug, or a handshake, the showing of gratitude is inherent in our desire to form social bonds with others. We’re also more responsive to kindness than we are to being snapped at. It takes more energy and time to be rude and, unless you’re on Jerry Springer, nothing good comes from it.

Just the other day, I was walking along the streets of downtown Ottawa when a man stopped me to ask if I had any change to spare. I searched my pockets, but unfortunately came up empty-handed. I told him I was sorry and I had no change. While I wasn’t expecting him to graciously thank me, I definitely wasn’t expecting him to shout in my face and use crude language I don’t feel comfortable repeating.

It’s quite possible he was just having a bad day. Even so, if someone does something kind for you, or at least makes an effort, I think it’s deserving of a little more than a vocal slap in the face. Perhaps we could all use a remedial lesson in the art of being thankful.

We’ve all had that moment where we give a friend a birthday or Christmas gift and they look at it and give a dismissive, “Oh, thanks…” The joy of gift-giving comes from knowing you will make someone’s day with the thought you put into their gift. If they then react as if you had gotten them a ball of lint or a stick of gum, it takes all the fun out of the experience and deflates you like a balloon.

So it’s not just the words “thank you” that are needed, but the sentiment behind them. Any expression can be made empty and meaningless if there is no authenticity to go along with it. Being thankful should not feel like a chore, but should come as naturally as the act of walking and talking. If you don’t feel it right away, be patient. Ever notice how quickly you start laughing for real when you or someone near you starts fake laughing? That laughter doesn’t take long to catch.

Everybody wins when someone shows gratitude. The person doing the nice thing is more likely to do it again, and the person saying thank you gets the satisfaction of knowing they made someone feel appreciated. Warm fuzzies all around.

With the winter holidays just around the corner, keep this in mind. If someone you love gives you a present this year, but not one that you particularly like, be grateful they went out of their way to show they care. If someone holds a door for you, or if someone tells you you look nice today, thank them. Just like a little kindness goes a long way, so does a little gratitude.