The woman representing our home builder was helpful throughout the process, listening to and filling our special requests. I felt it was simply her place: to do a job we were paying her well for by purchasing the house through them. Close to closing on the home, after going through another checklist of things we expected from them, I remember her saying, “I work with a lot of different people. One is a older fellow close to retirement. He is so thankful for every small thing and every idea we discuss. I’m really going to miss him. He is such a pleasure to work with.”
The day we closed on our home, she brought over what I could tell was a somewhat obligatory fruit basket, a nice gift to ‘seal the deal’. As we did so, I felt a pang of regret. I had not been nice to her, really. I treated her as a servant or an object to get the home I wanted. I realized as I looked at the gift, that the entire process would have been so much better, if I would have been more grateful for her ideas and suggestions. It saddened me that I had not been a better steward of this interaction.
The Power of a Grateful Heart
When we are grateful, we find joy in our interactions. When we are indifferent, we treat others as a means to an end.
Observations in Japan
Japan was an interesting country to live and work in. Anciently, the culture enforced a rigid master / servant social structure.
Even today, your manner of interaction and choice of words are dictated by where you sit in that social structure.
Our engineering team was polite and supportive of my boss, Kawaguchi San and used quite a different language to interact with him than he used with us. Then he would interact with his boss, and suddenly he was using all of the honorific language, and I remember nearly laughing out loud to hear the research director speak to him as one would to a little child, though in a way, it was endearing to see that somewhat paternal interaction.
In Japan the people serving you are expected to treat you like royalty and use words that seem to say, “I only live to serve you!” I remember thanking a server at a restaurant and being told by a coworker, “You don’t have to thank them. They’re getting paid to do this.” I responded, “Oh, but I must thank them. They are doing such a wonderful job, and after all, this person doesn’t have to be here. He could have simply decided to be a beggar on the street and not serve at all.”
The more engrained indifference is in our hearts, the more our precious relationships denigrate into master and slave. Gratitude liberates us and creates love. Indifference denigrates us into social caste systems and resentment.
Let us each treat our relationships with others in a way that others will want to flow to us, and we to them. When we die, surely it is the memories and relationships we will carry with us into the next world. I want each precious memory to count.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.D&C 121:41-46
Bless you all my beloved friends! I am thankful for you!
This is a very touching presentation on gratitude, from prophet, President Russell M. Nelson: