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In an ever-increasing complex world where everyone seems to always be in a hurry or preoccupied with their current technology screen of choice, the simplest of courtesies are getting shoved aside, forgotten, or taken for granted. With new and advanced technology to grab our attention and daily battles and barbs being tossed about on the internet and social media, why has much of mankind seemed to have lost the willingness and common decencies to both teach and practice the magic words of “please, thank you and you’re welcome?”  

“Please” is usually a form of polite request for some action or permission from another person. “Thank you” is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to someone or for something. “You’re welcome” is a general and polite acknowledgement of someone’s expression of thanks or gratitude. These are the building blocks of all good manners and common courtesy. These are not terms wielded to influence or provide some form of quid pro quo, but rather expressions of sincere appreciation and kindness. 

Some of these traditional manners have been left in the wake and fallen by the wayside. Quite simply, they are not given priority as a characteristic of good social practice as in years past. It is as if an ever-growing sense of entitlement is engulfing the world, and especially the younger generations. When and how did we lose the human propensity to offer kind words of gratitude and thanks for even simplest acts by another? Why have many young parents chosen not to teach and enforce these simple habits and acts of appreciation and kindness with their own children? 

It appears that the generations of young people and young parents today are failing to recognize the very basis of the attitudes and behaviors that lay the foundation for us to recognize and understand what gratitude, respect and kindness are. These are taught, modeled, and learned characteristics. We did not suddenly begin to use kindness and good manners as we grew. We had to have instruction and guidance in these areas for them to develop. We had to learn the ground rules and the basis for value associated with these words and behaviors. 

Teaching the simple words of “please, thank you, and you’re welcome” are of little value if we don’t also teach the associated mindset and attitude that prompts the sincere use of them. The lesson to be learned is that of appreciation and gratitude. Personally, it is both heartwarming and motivational for someone to offer the least bit of gratitude for my actions, words, and contributions. It enhances and deepens the relationship. 

I don’t let the expectation of return determine my own actions, but it is human nature to have a closer human bond and relationship to those who express and show genuine appreciation. The void created by a lack of perceived appreciation and gratitude leave me to wonder if what I have said or done is inadequate or in some manner lacking. My personal willingness to engage in acts of kindness and the sharing of my time, talents, and treasure is raised to a higher level by simple appreciation. I sincerely think that we owe it to each other to operate from a position of universal kindness. 

The world today appears to be growing angrier, more tense, condescending and unkind. It is hard for these divisive behaviors and attitudes to gain a foothold in our lives if our practice is to operate from a position of universal kindness. As I have grown older, it has become less a situation of anger and more an emotional disappointment to see and experience the lack of genuine gratitude and appreciation. Often, we develop that sense that our family and friends take what we have done or are doing for granted. I am reminded of the saying that “often we fail to appreciate things and people in our lives until they are gone.” 

My personal spiritual life has taught me that the greatest offering of all to God is a sincere and simple “Thank You God.” It is through these same words offered in gratitude, humility, and understanding that I show a reverence and appreciation for others. Our lives are not of our own making, but rather a blended product that developed through the love, help, guidance, generosity, and discipline of others. None of us makes it in life alone. There are no self-made men or women, only souls that have been nurtured by others along the way. 

The famous writer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson shared with us,  “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 

If you see no reason to give thanks, show gratitude or appreciation, the fault may just lie within yourself and your failure to recognize your blessings. Maybe it’s time for a check-up from the neck up. 

There is something to be gained and grateful for in every situation and experience.  Even in the hard times of trial and loss, we should seek to be grateful for the knowledge gained on our life’s path.  A simple statement can provide both acknowledgement and gratitude. “Thank You for Your Part in My journey.”  Small thoughts can provide both gratitude to others and a reminder to ourselves of the things in life that we have to be thankful for. Mother Teresa advised us, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Please, Thank You and You’re Welcome still are magic words in our life. 

Fred Clausen 

Fred’s latest book is The Divine Order of Our Random Life: A Collection of Teachable Moments and Human Observation. He is also the author of The Fork in the Road Leads Home: Reflections From My Life's Journeys...A Collection of Essays and The Essential Elements of Successful Coaching