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  • Writer's pictureKen Clark

Showing Gratitude for the People Who Never Get Thanked

There are few things worse than feeling invisible to the world around us. Feeling like we could just disappear and no one would notice or care. Or feeling like we are just stagehands in someone else’s play, where even though the show couldn’t go on without us, the audience never knows or cares that we’re there.

Society at its best and worst, can be measured by how those with the most power see those with the least. When we see ourselves in every single person we run across, regardless of their station in life, we are at our best. When we idolize those who hold the most power or celebrity, instead of those propping up society as a whole, we are at our worst. Charity, kindness and unity are on shaky ground if they’re grounded in our own sense of nobility, instead of our deep admiration and identification for those we care for.

The tip of the gratitude iceberg are the friends, family and coworkers that interact with your life in substantial and crucial ways. The bulk of an attitude of gratitude, however, lies below the surface with the silent servants in our world whose contributions blur into the craziness of our daily existence.

The barista, the garbage collector or the person who knows how to properly zipper merge, are the unnoticed and unsung heroes in our worlds. Since we tend to only notice these folks when they make an occasional human mistake, their contributions largely go unnoticed.

We never think about the 51 weeks out of the year when someone does their job perfectly enough for us not to be bothered by anything. Yet, the one time out of the year that they forget the soy in our latte or deliver our package to the wrong house, they get anything from an eye roll to a request to speak to their supervisor.

Can you imagine (some of you can) living in a world where the only time your hard work is noticed is when you don’t do it. How disheartening would that be? How much would that beat down your own ability to feel gratitude, hope and joy?

Saying Thank You to Those Who Never Hear It

You really want to make the word a better place? All it takes is sharing small, meaningful thank you’s with the dozens of people you normally don’t notice every day. Doing that alone would make you a catalyst for exponential gratitude in ways that far transcend everything else you’ve done in developing your attitude for gratitude.

When you walk by a person with a broom in their hand, say thank you and that you appreciate how hard they work to keep the world clean. When the hostess at the restaurant tells you that your table is ready, tell them how thankful and aware you are that they deal with hangry people all day long. When that nurse takes your weight, thank them for not announcing it out loud, especially since we all know your shoes added at least 5 pounds to the real number.

Thank the people stocking the shelves. Thank the people loading bags. Thank flight attendants, school secretaries and electricians. Thank landlords, veterinary assistants and the person setting up the bounce house at the birthday party.

Show your gratitude by making the invisible plain for all to see. Remind those around you by reminding yourself that every human needs to know that they matter and that their service contributes to someone else’s joy.

Seriously, in the next ten minutes, you’re going to walk right by one of these beautiful humans. Tell them that you see and appreciate them.

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