Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero

This won’t be one of those long, never-ending articles on the ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. This is simply an attempt to show you, how far a little bit of gratitude can take you. So do bear with me till the end. You will surely find something to be thankful for.This happened about 2 years ago.

Every morning, a man used to come to collect garbage from our houses. He was also in-charge of keeping the building clean. So he was the ‘Cleaning Guy’.Growing up, my mom taught me to say, “Thank you” to anyone who did anything for you. She used to said, “They’re doing work for you. No matter what the work may be, you have to be grateful.” So like a good girl, I started saying thank you to everyone from a young age. One morning during the summer holidays, I happened to wake up earlier than I would normally do. It was a Sunday and everyone else was sleeping. I walked out and sat on the couch. 10 minutes later, the doorbell rang.

When I opened it, the cleaning guy had come to collect garbage. Mom used to keep the garbage out on Saturday nights, so she wouldn’t have to wake up early on Sunday. This one time she forgot. So I went and got the bin and handed it to the man. As he was about to turn and leave, I said, “Thank you”.

He thought I said something related to his work so he turned and asked if he’d dropped something. I told him he hadn’t and said thank you once more. Hearing the words, he didn’t know how to respond. So he simply gave me a nod of acknowledgement and left.

Through the course of my summer holidays this happened a few more times. Whenever it was me putting out the garbage, I’d say thank you and he’d nod. Then one day after a long time, my mother asked me to put the garbage out since she was busy. And I said the routine “Thank you” to him. But this time, there came a pleasant answer in response. He fumbled at first, but then gave me an almost perfectly pronounced, “Welcome”.

Now it was my turn to be surprised! Did this guy, who would normally never say a word, especially not a word of any other language, but Hindi, just said, “Welcome”? And to add to my amusement, he smiled and repeated, “Welcome Madam”. When I came back inside, I had this stupid smile on my face. Seeing which my mother questioned, “What happened?” And I proudly told her, “The guy said ‘Welcome’.”

My mom probably didn’t understand why it was a big deal. And I won’t be surprised if you don’t either. But today, two years later, the cleaning guy, who most probably never went to school after class 4. The man who spoke only Hindi and Marathi, actually says, “Thank you”, “You’re Welcome”, “Good Morning/Afternoon”, “Hello” and every other greeting there is. This man, learnt to say “You’re Welcome”, purely to answer my “Thank you”.

And from the looks of it, I think he has started learning conversational English too. For the first time in my life, I truly know what the “Attitude of Gratitude” has the power to do. It can change lives. It can make ordinary a little more than just ordinary. Gratitude can become power.

Gratitude is a virtue. We all learnt that in school and like everything we learn in school, we apply it because it is elementary knowledge. We don’t consider it anything special or anything life changing. For us, expressing gratitude has become a routine exercise. And maybe, just maybe, that is why the power in gratitude has become a little less.

When you express gratitude, you don’t just acknowledge someone or something. You actually allow the other person to see you as more than just a passing face. There is a strong bond that is built. No doubt it is invisible. But it is strong, nonetheless.

If one expression of gratitude, from one ordinary person, can make another person pick up learning again… imagine what all a million ‘Thank you’(s) can do?

Like Rumi said, “Gratitude is wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.”

That feeling when you can bring a smile to someone’s face, is truly priceless. Gratitude can give you that sense of fulfillment each and every single day.I know it would be foolish to expect the whole world to try something, just because it made a difference in my life. But it won’t hurt to try.

So here is what I propose. The next time you express gratitude, do it with a smile. Make it a little more than a hurried expression. Let the person know that you really mean the words. I am not suggesting that you stand there and touch his feet. No!. But don’t make it sound like an exercise. Manners are great. But also something that can be ignored. The power of gratitude can earn you a place in someone’s memory.

And what is life at the end of the day, but a big pile of sweet and sour memories? Let’s make it more sweet than sour!

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Author's Bio: 

My name is Harini Srivatsan. I am a young college student and aspiring writer. I believe that if the powers of the youth and wisdom of the old join forces, lives can be changed for the better.