Appreciation is the higher order construct

On my last day of work at a startup, my boss sent me one final memo.

Scott, you’re the only employee who ever consistently emailed the company leaders with a thank you about your bonuses. We really appreciate it.

I was both touched and shocked.

How could that be possible? You’re telling me that when forty employees get a bonus check for a thousand dollars apiece, simply for doing the job they’re already getting paid for, they don’t immediately reach out and express their gratitude?

Giving thanks shouldn’t be something people thank you for. This is basic manners. It’s rule number one of being a human. When someone acts generously towards you, look them in the eye and tell them thanks. Don’t snatch the gift out of their hands like a spoiled child, run into the corner and expect another gift to show up tomorrow.

Hyde’s book about the transformation of creative spirit summarized it best:

Gratitude is labor undertaken by the soul to effect the transformation after a gift has been received.

And this isn’t just my naïve, midwestern opinion here. It’s been clinically proven that gratitude is a critical component of human happiness. Thanking is the highest form of thought there is.

Psychologically, gratitude is what amplifies the good in our life. It increases the signal strength of what’s working. People who live under an aura of pervasive thankfulness enable the best experience of living.

Question is, why is gratitude so hard for some of us? Well, the research shows that the greater a person’s development in the virtue of humility, the greater will be their openness to and capacity for gratitude.

And therein lies the problem. We’re too wrapped up in ourselves. Ignorantly indifferent to anything outside our own personal concern, taking a few minutes to write a thank you note would be too much for us.

Or, sometimes we do give thanks, but without a core of humility to support is, that gratitude feels superficial.

But the reality is, humility and gratitude are mutually reinforcing. They coexist in an upward spiral. In fact, gratitude actually helps us, not the people to whom we are grateful.

We don’t give thanks because there’s some audience watching, or because we secretly hope our reverse psychology will trick the universe into giving us more of what we want. The reward for giving thanks is being the carrier of gratitude itself. That’s enough.

Appreciation is the higher order construct that doesn’t need anything else.

Faulkner once wrote that gratitude is a quality similar to electricity, in that it must be produced, discharged and used up in order to exist at all.

Maybe one day we’ll learn that the more of it we give, the more of it we have, and the better off the world is.

When we fill ourselves up with a spirit of pervasive thankfulness, we create a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Are you tired of doing the impossible for the ungrateful?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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