The Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the person who taught us gratitude!
It always sounds so annoying whenever parents ask their children, “What’s the magic word?” And yet the underlying attitude is of such elementary importance.
No man is an island. We need one another. The old need the young, the young need the old. Parents need their children, and children their parents.
We need advice, support, criticism, help, succour, looking after. We need a smile or a pat on the back.
Natural as such affection may be, it is not really all that natural. And it is precisely this that the principle of gratitude celebrates. Don’t take it for granted; acknowledge it. Build a monument to it.
And the best bit: gratitude is free. That makes it all the more pleasing.
Every language has a verbal expression of gratitude. How this is used says much about the speaker’s personality. You can see this at every award ceremony, be it the Oscars or the Olympics. In a one-minute expression of thanks, many a star has thrown away years of hard-won sympathy by praising himself more than those he should be thanking. Others bring tears to the eye because they themselves shed a few.
Every optimist knows why gratitude is so important.
If our much-feared medical check-up goes better than expected, the homeless man on the street corner is likely to get a generous donation. Just like that. By way of a doffed cap to fate and an attempt to pass on a little of our good fortune to one who so desperately needs it.
And if you hide behind a tree trunk for long enough, you are bound to hear jogging optimists cry a loud “Thank you!” to the skies out of the simple urge to voice their pleasure at their health to someone, anyone.
We are delighted to feature daily excerpts from Florian Langenscheidt’s inspiring Dictionary of Optimism. He is a renowned author, journalist, publisher and television presenter and has been researching and writing about happiness for over 40 years.