Please and Thank You: How to Bring Gratitude Back in Style

Please and Thank You: How to Bring Gratitude Back in Style

Graphic by Dakota Matthess '12.

No doubt, children cringe everytime they hear that dorky purple dinosaur say, “Please and thank you, they’re called the magic words.”

But do people actually use those magic words on a regular basis?

Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been raised in a household where manners and respect are required. Since I was a baby, I’ve been taught to use “please” and “thank you” with everyone I interact with, and I have found that it makes more pleasant interactions with even the grumpiest people.

However, I’ve noticed lately that my peers too often let this common courtesy slide.

How many times has someone simply snatched a buffalo chicken wrap from the chef in the cafeteria who’s been slaving over them for an hour and a half without a smile or even an appreciative glance, let alone a thank you?

Or how about when an English teacher hands out a packet on dangling modifiers? When she places a packet on one’s desk, does the student even look up from doodling on his or her notes?

What about outside of school? At a restaurant, do people acknowledge the waiter who refills water glasses? Or is the waiter simply ignored as the people continue their conversations?

In reality, many young teenagers—and even adults, for that matter—forget to use “please” and “thank you,” and I have to admit, it really ticks me off.

Sure, kids say “please” when they’re begging their parents for a new iPhone 4, or “thank you” when they find a beribboned BMW in the driveway on their 16th birthday.

But when it comes to the small blessings and brief interactions experienced each and every day, many in my generation fail to extend courtesy and kindness.

So why are these words forgotten? Are people that lazy? Are “please” and “thank you” only required for little kids who are still squired around by their parents? Did I miss the Facebook inbox saying that “please” and “thank you” are to be socially frowned upon by everyone?

I don’t think saying those words would be as awkward as everyone thinks. Wouldn’t it be nice to just see someone say a sincere “thanks” to the person who returns the homework that they dropped in the hallway, rather than a distracted smirk and an unintelligible grunt?

Gratitude is defined as a feeling of thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. I think the issue is that, unfortunately, my generation spends too much time feeling entitled rather than grateful.

Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, literally wrote a book on gratitude. “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” reveals that by cultivating gratitude, we can actually increase our happiness levels by about 25 percent, and can also bring longer and better-quality sleep time as well as more effective exercise.

Emmons said that keeping a gratitude journal will not only help become more aware of the big and small blessings in our lives, but will also increase our happiness levels dramatically.

He also recommends getting into the habit of handwriting thank-you notes to people who have helped in some way, or simply praising someone who did a good job.

But in my opinion, the best and easiest way to bring gratitude back into our daily lives is simply to bring “please” and “thank you” back in style.

Remember to incorporate gratitude into your life all day, every day.