The Ethics of Self-Care
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Showing Gratitude Can Enhance Your Well-Being

Regaining Civility in Society

I have previously blogged about the decline of civility in society and rampant unethical behavior that has created conflicts everywhere we look. It seems we no longer know how to disagree with each other without being disagreeable. In short, we have lost our moral compass.

One way to regain a sense of humanity is to show gratitude. Gratitude is the appreciation we show to someone who has done something that benefits us and expressing gratitude gives us a good feeling.

People who express gratitude for how they are treated in their personal lives and in the workplace are received warmly by others. A simple ‘thank you’ may suffice but often showing gratitude requires that we explain why. It helps the other person learn the reason why what they said or did was received positively. It can motivate additional acts of gratitude.

What motivates a person to show gratitude? Given it is a characteristic trait of behavior, a person who expresses gratitude is kind and thoughtful. It’s not all about them. They don’t just accept the act and take it in stride. A person who expresses gratitude sends a signal that the act was appreciated. It meant something.

Gratitude is a virtue in part because the more you practice it, the better you get at it. Showing gratitude whenever possible develops that characteristic trait of behavior. Others may show gratitude to you in return.

Showing gratitude in the workplace enhances relationships and when a superior shows gratitude to an employee it creates a good feeling. They are valued for what they did. It creates a successful work experience. Imagine that an employee just finished a major project for the employer and the employer says something like: Your hard work will enable us to meet the needs of a customer. It makes the hard work worthwhile. It makes for a more effective manager.

Expressing gratitude creates a sense of optimism. All is well with the world (OK. This is an exaggeration). The more gratitude is expressed the better we feel about ourselves. It not only creates happiness but adds meaning to our lives. Gratitude blog

Here are some ways to express gratitude.

Practice random acts of kindness. Do something unexpected and kind for another person. Cook a meal for a neighbor whose spouse is in the hospital. Take a new employee out to lunch.

Pay it forward. When someone does something nice for you, engage in a kind act that makes life better for another person. Hopefully, they will do the same and before you know it a lot of people get involved.

Communicate directly. Don’t send a text message to express your gratitude. Saying it in person means more because it gives both parties a good feeling about the act. There is a warm feeling that occurs when someone says something kind to your face. Expressing gratitude on social media is cold and impersonal. If you won’t see them for a while then pick up the phone and call. Words mean more than texts.  

Tell the boss. If someone does something kind for you in the workplace express your feelings. If your coworker does the kind act informing his/her boss shows you are a thoughtful person and the boss may seek out your help on a future project.

Build it into your personal mission statement. I discuss the issue of having a personal mission statement in my August newsletter. A personal mission statement defines the values that drive behavior of an ethical person. Kindness, empathy and showing gratitude should be included because they illustrate The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you wish they would treat you.

We need to be kind to each other and show gratitude to begin to rebuild the loss of civility in society that can rear its ugly head when we communicate with those who have an opposing view. We see it all the time in politics and on cable television. Dismissing another person and their position is disrespectful and a thoughtless act. It is the opposite of showing gratitude.

Self-centered people have the most problem showing gratitude. It’s all about them so when someone does something kind it is taken in stride. They believe they are entitled to receive gratitude and don’t consider reciprocating.

People count and reaching out when they do something kind for us should be met with gratitude and doing kind acts for others. You will feel better about yourself.

Thank you for reading this blog. It means a lot to me that you took the time to do so. You can show your gratitude by showing your appreciation to a friend, family member, coworker or boss who does something kind for you.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on July 30, 2019. Steve recently published a book titled Beyond Happiness and Meaning that explains the ethics of personal relationships,  workplace interactions and on social media activities. Visit Steve’s website, sign up for his newsletter, and buy his book on Amazon. Follow him on Facebook and “Like” his page.