Surely because of the Fall, we humans are not grateful creatures.
We are rarely creative in praising someone or something, but we are wildly imaginative and creative when we are mad at someone, or have something to complain about.
I was thinking about this the other day as I was pursuing one of my favorite hobbies: I like to read personal hotel reviews on the internet for fun. “That’s not so strange,” you might think, “A lot of people read hotel reviews.” What makes it a little different for me is that I am not looking for the good reviews—I’m looking for the bad reviews. Why? Because they are written so much better.
For instance, if you pull up the typical five-star hotel review, it reads something like this:
“My wife and I spent two nights in this pretty hotel on the drive back from my Uncle Charlie’s third wedding in Zaza, Idaho. The price was reasonable, and it has good décor. The bed was clean and there were extra towels. The ice-machine down the hall was always full and the plasma-television was on a swivel. We will definitely stay here again.”
Pretty boring stuff.
However, the one-star reviews read more like this:
“Upon entering the dirty, dingy lobby, which was decorated in burnt orange and brown, with grimy sofa cushions and several cracked mirrors that made it look more like a funhouse than a hotel, my wife and I looked at each other and wondered if we should turn and leave right away. In any case, we got the key to the room, and began walking down the hall to room 108. On the way to our ‘suite,’ we had to hold our breath, because the hallway had a stench that would be best described as a mixture of cat litter boxes, mold, and turpentine. When we opened the scratched door to the room (which was made somewhat easier due to fact that the doorknob was broken), the real trouble began…”
OK. That’s much better writing.
As entertaining as it may be, my little hobby is an ongoing proof to me that when a person complains, his creative abilities break free. But it’s also proof to me that we fallen humans don’t commend people well; we don’t thank them enough; and we pat each other on the back far too little. While we’re generous with our criticism, we’re stingy with our praise and thanksgiving.
We need to change all that.
We need to be creative in the ways we lift each other up, and I have one old-fashioned idea to try: Thank You cards.
I don’t know if there is an average number of thank-you cards that a person receives in his lifetime. If I had to guess, I’d say that I have received maybe 40 or 50 in my lifetime. Each one mattered. Each one made a difference.
This got me thinking. What if we each sent out 10 thank-you cards? This website is viewed regularly by maybe 10,000 people, which would amount to 100,000 thank-you cards.
They don’t have to go to anyone who has done something deserving of thanks in the past two weeks. Maybe it’s a baseball coach you had thirty years ago; maybe it’s a college professor from twenty. Maybe it’s your parish priest who has baptized your children and been there for you for regular Confession. Maybe it’s your Mom or Dad. Maybe it’s one of your kids.
It doesn’t even have to be someone you have ever met. It could be someone you read about in the news who inspired you.
Have you ever thought about sending a thank-you card to Pope Francis?
By the way, here’s his address:
His Holiness, Pope Francis
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano
True, thank you cards are a little thing, but I have a feeling that enough of these little things will change the world—one thank you at a time.
(I’d like to accumulate some stories for a future article. If you send out thank you cards and you have some feedback for me, please let me know. My email address is JohnFClark at live dot com Thank you!)