William Banks went to a black college. William's college had a rich tradition of graduating outstanding citizens. His professors were highly respected in their fields. He had a wonderful social life, surrounded by black college football, fraternity parties, and late night breakfast at Dennys with friends. After graduating from college, William got a great paying job with lots of responsibilities. However, William never gave anything back to his university. Why? He only thought about a) being cursed out by rude admission workers, b) the number of times the financial aid office lost his loan information, c) the numerous scandals by college administrators, and d) the hassle associated with trying to graduate on time. William never got over those negative college experiences. He never returned.
Sadly, our society has forgotten how to be appreciative. The holidays are no exception. Many people are too busy running the rat race to say, "Thank you." I remember sitting in a Sunday School class of young students during my college experience at Southern University. I remember one student saying how ungrateful he had been toward his parents. I also felt guilty. My parents bought me my first car while I was in high school; most students did not have cars. I had envisioned receiving a brand new car. Well, I didn't. I got an old 1973 Dodge Charger. I was disappointed. But, I fell in love with that old car which I later called "The New Wave Cruisemobile." My car was far more dependable than most automobiles. I remember never having said "thank you" for my car -- I had also taken my parents for granted. Our society doesn't teach us that being appreciative is a virtue.
Developing a spirit of gratitude separates an individual from the rest of the pack. This attribute is all about character. Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful; it is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. In the fast pace of industrial living, people aren't saying "thank you" to anyone. Most people feel they deserve any kind act done for them. In fact, a selfish society creates a generation of ungrateful children. Consequently, our children grow up with this huge expectation of social pampering. Why else would a) waiters expect tips without good service, b) students expect good grades without the effort, and c) couples want great relationships without any communication. All of these unrealistic expectations make "thank you" less important.
A New Attitude
It is easy to see how people such as recent college graduates, can be discouraged with the current economic recession. According to the U.S. Labor Department, only 47.6% of people aged 16 to 24 had jobs last August. In the current economic climate, individuals need a spirit of gratitude for a competitive advantage. Some young people may call this strategy too old-fashioned. Yet, fools shun wise counsel. In my book, Don't Be An Old Fool: Common Sense & Gratitude, I mock popular culture which provides solutions that don't make common sense. In my world, I define a fool as an individual who is unwilling to listen and heed wise advice. When you show someone some gratitude after they assist you, that individual will likely continue to help or do more for you. However, if you are ungrateful, many times people will not do any more for you. Here are some things you can do to help produce this act of kindness:
1. Count your blessings one by one. Give God thanks.
2. Tell your parents "thank you" for their support.
3. Give back financially to your university.
4. Visit past teachers who have contributed to your good character.
5. Support high school and college alumni organizations.
6. Send your church Sunday School teacher a greeting card.
7. Thank the person in your community who serves as your role model.
8. Thank the public servants in your area (such as garbage csollectors, police officers, postal workers, fire fighters, etc.).
9. Recognize and praise past coaches who have helped you.
10. Say something positive to your minister who contributes to your spiritual growth.
As the economy continues to spiral downward, people are looking at various ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. The holiday season is the perfect time to add some gratitude into the character-building process. If a person is honest, he or she can probably think of at least one person who has helped him or her in some way. It's easy to get into a trap of only looking at the negative side of life. Can you afford to acknowledge these acts of kindness, no matter the size? Make your holidays the best ever! Spread your appreciation across your community. Showcasing a spirit of gratitude can be very rewarding and can transform an individual's situation.
Dr. Green, an international management strategist, writes on contemporary issues impacting businesses, society, and across the globe. With over 18 years of management experience, Dr. Green's expertise has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to http://stores.lulu.com/darygre or http://www.darylgreen.org.© 2013 Dr. Daryl D. Green
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