Christmas Tree for 2011 (photo the author)
Recently I read an interesting article quoting a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside (Sonja Lyubomirsky). It stated that "Academics have long theorised that expressions of thanks promote health and happiness and give optimism and energy. Now, the study of gratitude has become a surprisingly burgeoning field and research indicates being thankful might help people feel better. However, there is a catch: you have to say thanks more than once a year..."
After a week in which I encountered rude airline passengers and staff I thought about this concept. Why is it that people having the opportunity to "fly", which was so seldom offered to people 30 years ago, and even then when it was it was a "luxury", believe it is appropriate to be rude to each other? How lucky are they compared to those for whom travel is merely a dream?
So many of us will be travelling over the Festive Season and given that Christmas is, I believe, a time for reflection on the place of ourselves in families and wider communities, why don't we just take time to say "thank you", or "merci' or the thousands of other words with the same meaning, to those who assist us and to those whom we love?
It is after all a phrase which we teach our children, in all cultures, as the basis of good manners. But come Christmas time, people are so "busy" and "stressed" trying to achieve their goals of gift choices, food choices and more that the spirit of a kind word, a gentle touch and a genuine word are lost....with the spirit of Christmas.
Please smile at the person who assists you at the airport, in the plane, the bus, the train; and the shop assistant at the counter; and smile at the family member who helps you with the Christmas wrapping and food preparation.... and above all, for those of us fortunate enough to have people with whom we can share the Christmas spirit, be grateful...and say thank you.