May 21, 2013: Gratitude – Civility Dressed up in Goodness

Guest Commentary by Yasmin Anderson-Smith

Thank-You2In a recent article titled, “The Art of Gratitude” Simon Jordan, host and presenter of One Planet One Place posed the following list of five simple questions that we can ask ourselves every day.  He followed up with a challenge that we take a few minutes each morning to perform this task and for a few weeks, then observe the difference.

Question 1: What am I happiest about at this moment?

Question 2: What am I most proud of that I have achieved in my life so far?

Question 3: Who are my friends?

Question 4: Who loves me?

Question 5:
 What can I do today to make it a more joyous one?

This is a great way to focus our attention on that which is so often taken for granted – showing our appreciation. Whether it is the small act of saying the words, “Thank you” or a more elaborate expression of our gratitude, these acts of civility make a difference to the recipient and strengthen our character and connection with them.  Acts of gratitude are important links connecting the bonds that build ad strengthen our relationships in family, business and community.   They are an important part of the way we build trust and respect for others. These are essential building blocks of civility.

When I receive a sincere thank you from a client, friend, colleague or family member, in response to work I completed or an act of kindness, not only does it make me feel good, it brings me closer to that person and our bond is strengthened.  Similarly, showing my appreciation has its own “feel good” reward, amped by the knowledge that it makes the recipient happy.

How many ways can we show gratitude? How many opportunities do we face each day to show our appreciation?  How many chances do we miss each day to say “thank you” to the women serving in the cafeteria or restaurant, the bus or taxi cab driver, a neighbor or co-worker? Sometimes, even a smile, eye contact, hand gesture, head nod, compliment or brief hand-written note can convey our appreciation and spread a bit of goodness in someone’s world.  None of these actions involve a cost yet bring a host of benefits like trust, respect, self-appreciation and sense of identity and belonging.  Gratitude is civility dressed up in goodness.

I propose the following five questions to supplement the ones written by Simon Jordan, mentioned above:

Question 6: Did someone’s action make me feel happy or warm my heart?

Question 7: What are my blessings?

Question 8: Who made a difference in my life today?

Question 9: Who lifted me up or showed me that they care?

Question 10: Who made life a little easier for me today?

Ask yourself any or all of these five simple questions each day and follow up with an expression of gratitude.  Your response can be a simple, no-cost act.  It is important to be focused and sincere.

The Smile, a well-known poem by Jill Wolf seems to be a fitting close to this post.

“There’s something you may give to a friend, a stranger too: It seems that when you give it, it’s given back to you. This gift is worth a million, but doesn’t cost a dime: It’s lasting in effect, but doesn’t take much time. This simple little gesture can make the day worthwhile: it’s just as good as sunshine.  It’s what we call a smile.”

Love and Light for your Tuesday!

yasminYasmin Anderson-Smith is co-author of The Power of Civility, a speaker, coach, trainer and brand image consultant. Online at

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