1 EAGLETON NOTES: The Lost Art of Gratitude

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Lost Art of Gratitude

Perhaps what I mean is the lost art of expressing gratitude. Perhaps not.

Today I went to the gym in town. I stopped for a car on the single track road. The person for whom I gave way didn't acknowledge that nor cheerily wave in thanks (which is, I have to say, the norm here on the Island).  I stepped aside to let a lady and her child through the entrance to the Sports Centre. She didn't thank me (and thus failed to teach her child that thanks were due). I stepped aside twice inside the building to let girls through first. Neither acknowledged that: one was busily chatting to a man who also walked through without any thanks. 

It struck me a long time ago that thanks for birthday, Christmas and even wedding presents were not always acknowledged by the younger generation and that expressions of thanks were even more rare. 

Why? 

39 comments:

  1. I struggle with this, in my own young people. I don't know what to say except 'one should always give thanks to someone else'. Don't get me cross. I thought I provided a good example.
    - Mrs Grumpy too.

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    1. Well I can honestly say Kate that James was the model of good manners in everything when he stayed with me

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  2. The reason I think is that gratitude is not taught. Too many parents now-a-days want their children to like them, to be their friend. Even in the school where I taught, I started the new year teaching the children to say "yes, please" or "no, thank you" when asked about food in the lunch line. I also taught them to stand up to show respect when a priest entered our room. Also I think too many adults think children are born knowing these things. I've been known to say "you're welcome" to anyone who fogets to thank me. Give that a try, GB! Who knows we might make a dent in this society of thinking they are entitled.

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    1. You're right Norma, saying " You're welcome" when someone forgets to say " thank you" works. It usually makes them stop and quickly reply with a thank you !

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    2. That sounds like a good idea then Norma an Helsie. I shall try it.

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  3. Customs chage, I suppose... Sometimes, alas, for the worse... :( Keep up the good works - some day someone might thank you! ♥

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    1. Actually Monica in the space of a couple of minutes in the sports centre today two teenage girls just carried on chatting and ignored the fact that I'd held the door open for them. Then a young man of oriental extraction and impeccable manner held a door open for me and wished me good morning. He was probably born and brought up on the Island and probably went to the same secondary school as the girls. The difference was so marked it made me wonder whether the inherent cultural difference has been passed on.

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    2. The laundry room in my building is one place where I tend to sigh at general disrespect and lack of manners. Yesterday the machines were (to my relief) empty when I got down there to start; but later when I was down moving my second load from washer to drier, a woman (about half my age perhaps) turned up with a full laundry basket and asked if I had finished. Actually I had, although there were still a couple of hours left of my time. So said yes and nodded consent for her to use the machine (as that was clearly what she wanted, even if she did not actually ask!). In my book, that's one of those situations where one might expect a "thanks" - in any culture... But no... She just went ahead. (Sigh)

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  4. It's so true, Graham. Every day I hold open doors, step aside in doorways or on pavements (today), and it's as though I'm invisible. I'm not sure why I bother.

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    1. On pavements Frances I only step aside for people who are not walking abreast and who appear older than me or infirm or who are females above their teens. I decided that years ago when all the secondary school children used to crowd the pavement on the way into town (my office and the school are next door to each other).

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  5. Gratitude IS becoming a lost art....I was bemoaning this same thing a few days ago....it's a worldwide thing.

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    1. I wonder why Virginia.

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    2. GB, I know for sure that the younger kids look at their peers who say "Please" and "Thank You" as being too bougie, and are bullied and ostracised.

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  6. I ask the same questions but no answers.

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    1. Ah well Red we are in the same boat.

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  7. Maybe we need to need to make our faces look like a cell phone, we might be noticed then!

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    1. That's an idea Kay. Or plant a symbol of Facebook on my forehead.

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  8. I too have joined the ranks of the invisible.

    I do have a funny story from last Sunday. I was in the shop at Glenmore getting bread eggs and milk when a tiny girl who was only twice the size of her shopping bag tugged on my jacket and said. Get me some eggs.
    I asked her what the magic word was and she replied after a moments thought. Now.

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    1. This has me speechless. Yes, it is funny, but in a sad way very typical.

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    2. Yes I always ask for the magic word and if it's not forthcoming. So far I've not had the response you received.

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    3. I thought the magic word was Abracadabra.

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    4. Sorry Adrian but I would not have handed this young girl any eggs....for crying out loud..."Get me some eggs....Now" doesn't register in my brain at all.

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  9. Having a chuckle at Adrian's comment. Today in the supermarket the checkout lady made a comment about when I was there last week. I remarked that she has a good memory and she said she always remembers the customers who joke with her and give her a smile. I said she's still need a good memory, there are so many customers. "You'd be surprised!" was her reply. I was thinking about that all the way home. Really? Is it that bad? Isn't it just good manners? Like Red, I have no answers.

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    1. Pauline we used to have a lady named Carol in our local Coop supermarket. She would have a queue at here checkout whilst others were vacant. She knew all her customers by name and it was worth standing in her queue for the craic. She single-handedly showed that good manners and good social skills attract a like response from others. Leastways she was a fantastic example and I can't imagine how anyone who was not of similar demeanour would have coped.

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  10. Possibly you, or maybe it was Frances Garrood, have been writing about this before, and like everybody else who has been commenting, I notice that a lot myself. RJ and I are very old-fashioned in that way. He opens doors for me, puts my chair in its place when we are at a restaurant, and does all the other little gentlemanly things his parents taught him. Not because he thinks I am so weak that I wouldn't be able to do them myself, but out of respect and politeness.
    When we are out on a walk and someone is coming our way on a narrow path, we make way for them if they are elderly or with a pram, but we don't when they are young and fit and simply too lazy/inconsiderate to walk one behind the other. I know it's not really our job to teach them - their parents should have done that - but when parents fail, maybe the rest of society has to step in.

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    1. Meike it's very possible. I did do a Postvorta search of my blog to see if I had because it seemed likely but I couldn't find a post. It's the respect and politeness thing that is so important. I have a female friend of very feminist views who gets very irritated by some of these 'foibles' but my Mum would turn in her grave (that is if she hadn't been cremated) if she saw me not doing those things (and my Mum was pretty feminist too in her own way and day). I'm with you all the way on your last paragraph.

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  11. I have often wondered at this as well. I think it is a sad indication of what society is becoming and may well explain many things! I particularly notice it here - it was the first thing that struck me, people seem less friendly and gratitude and politeness seem to be in short supply!

    Saying that though - I asked the paper bin collectors just this morning if I could give them some bags of extra papers and they said yes, I said thank you (as I always do, having been brought up that way it comes very naturally) and they said equally politely 'you're welcome' which was nice. Plus there was also a thank you note put through the door the other day when I left some bags out for the charity bag kerbside collection - which was very nice to get an acknowledgement!

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    1. Serenata I think there is a difference in friendliness certainly in New Zealand's smaller towns anyway people are very friendly and polite on the whole.

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  12. The strange exception to this is the number of people, old and young, who thank the driver as they get off the bus.

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    1. Sue you are absolutely right. At first I thought it was just a Glasgow thing (Glaswegians being a very friendly bunch on the whole) but then I noticed it when I was travelling by bus in Ayr. As Glasgow and Ayr are the only places I've been on a bus in recent years (I also used busses in Edinburgh but that was many years ago) I can't comment about anywhere else. I suspect some psychology student could get a masters degree out of that.

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  13. I don't know it is a lack of gratitude as much as it is a lack of manners. And, that instruction can only come from the parents or other adults that a young person has respect for. And, there is the rub, so to speak. If the young people do not respect anyone (even themselves) then manners mean less than nothing to them. It takes no more time out of ones day just to say, "Thank you" or to give someone a quick smile.

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    1. Peace I simply used gratitude as an example of manners which seem to have gone into decline. Having said that I think that many people now have so much they often have little gratitude and the lack of expression is simply down to a lack of manners. I suspect we would say 'thank you' even if we were not grateful so to that extent it is certainly a question of manners.

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  14. I think there is a general feeling of entitlement now - more than there was. And the person who commented above (what a lovely screen name) is absolutely right about the manners. It takes a lot of nagging to get kids to show manners, although it eventually becomes ingrained. But I don't think it's just that people don't have time to teach their kids - it is something else.

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  15. The long paragraph left me thinking that you had turned into The Invisible Man.
    Little acts of gratitude matter a lot to me too and I believe that I am quite scrupulous about dishing out thanks - when getting off a bus, after serving somebody in Oxfam, when my wife makes me a cup of tea, after asking for directions. Sometimes I think I am this weird Thank You Man. But of course in Yorkshire everybody is well-mannered. It's just part of our kind and sunny nature.

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    1. Hang on YP. I seem to recall that Yorkshire is the county that holds a competition for the honour of holding the title of Grumpiest person in the community. Wasn't David Hockney once called the grumpiest man in Britain? And what about Arthur Smith. Mind you I bet they all - well Perhaps not Hockney - said thanks for the title.

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  16. Regarding common courtesy: I saw a post on the net yestserday:
    "The guy who shoved his way past me on the subway platform and told me to go F****k myself, just walked into my office for his personnel interview." Even if apocryphal, you gotta love it! DeeDee

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