It’s the end of the year — stress levels are high and it may seem like finding positivity and happiness is a pipe dream.
Although I’m a history student, and not a doctor, I truly believe that being grateful can make you a better and happier person.
The other day I expressed my gratitude to a parking enforcement officer ticketing cars behind Sid Smith. Most people don’t like being ticketed, and they might blame the parking officer for doing their job. Granted, there are unfair parking by-laws, but I am genuinely thankful that someone is out there to deal with the jerk that parked their car in front of a fire exit. So, I told the officer this. At first, he was shocked. Then, he smiled, and eventually we struck up a conversation. He was a really nice guy. He works hard at his job so that he can pay for his two daughters to go to university. At the cost of a “thank you,” we both gained some positive interpersonal interaction.
There are plenty of people on campus who deserve our thanks — the maintenance workers, the dining hall cooks, the assistants to the registrars, and the hot dog vendors who serve you your late-night studying munchies. Many of them do their jobs unnoticed in the background. Whoever it is that you are grateful to, even if it’s for the smallest thing, show them your gratitude!
This doesn’t mean saying “thank you” all of the time, and to ignore situations when we are not grateful. Rather than thanking someone out of obligation, offering a genuine “thank you” is an opportunity to bring sincerity into and fuel our inter-personal interactions. It’s not just negative interactions that kill the spirit. The accumulation of neutral interactions, also slowly erode our spirit. The fast, anxiety-ridden, and big city lifestyles we lead call for more genuine, heartfelt, person-to-person exchanges. Be it in the shape of an in-person thank you, or a nice note slipped into their mailbox — take the extra moment.
At the end of the day, look in the mirror and thank yourself. Everything you have achieved — all the good moments, and the not-so-good moments — that was you. Be grateful for you, you wonderful, intelligent person.
Try it, U of T — spread the kindness. Open yourself up to being the kooky person who gives a genuine and emotional “thank you” to every person who helps and supports them. As Thomas Hobbes said, life is “nasty, brutish and short,” so why not celebrate all of the people who make it a little bit nicer, a little less brutish, and make us all wish it was a little bit longer?
India McAlister is a fourth-year student at Trinity College studying history.