Some of the best people you can work or live with are people who smile and have gratitude. When you reach out and do something nice for these people, they show their gratitude, and by doing that they inspire and nudge you to do more for them.
As social animals, all of us are constantly expressing, sensing, and evaluating gratitude that we give and take all the time. And we love displays of gratitude. We love them a lot more than we think we do. Take a look at this video on YouTube for instance:
There are tons of such videos out there where people give out big tips or huge gifts to random strangers:
There are entire channels dedicated to tipping waiters and waitresses in a restaurant.
Mr. Beast is one of the YouTubers who thrives on building videos that revolve around the central theme of Random acts of kindness. Look at this video by him, which is just one of the signature videos by him where he is having fun doing what he does best, which is doing random acts of kindness to complete strangers:
Now, as much as the central theme of these videos is random acts of kindness, look within and ask yourself, as an audience what draws you to these videos?
It’s not the act of giving money to random strangers that pulls millions of users to these videos and makes them like and comment. It’s the reactions of people who receive these random acts of kindness that draw us to this kind of content. We want to see them smile, break down with excessive joy or just react with some expression of gratitude.
To be really specific, the more gratitude the recipient of a random act of kindness showcases, the more we feel connected to them and the more viral content they inadvertently end up creating becomes. Some of these reactions are so full of gratitude that they have the potential to make you cry and make you keep coming back for more such content.
And if you ever watched these videos and thought, “If I have a truckload of money someday, I’ll do this to people too!”, the real question to ask yourself is, why do you want to do this? Because as a human being, you see Mr. Beast get a lot of gratitude and you want some too. Put simply, we crave genuine appreciation and gratitude.
Mr. Beast’s specialization then is not to give away money to random people. His super power is also not about creating videos where he inspires people to indulge in the act of altruism. The insane humor and personality that Mr. Beast showcases help the video but that’s not his true secret sauce behind the success of his videos. His true secret sauce, is finding people who can truly appreciate random acts of kindness done to them, react with massive gratitude and then capture those people’s genuine reactions on camera.
Lower the gratitude quotient of some of those guests and the entertainment value of Mr. Breasts channel would be zero. Comments would start rolling in on how the people given the money don’t even deserve it and the whole channel would become really toxic in a matter of days.
But Mr. Beast has an awesome intuitive radar for sensing people with gratitude which keeps the channel alive. Gratitude displayed by the people being filmed makes us hooked to the channel and keeps us coming back. I’m not saying Mr. Beast plans for gratitude but finding the right people is a subtle, intuitive, gut-based talent that he has which helps his content a lot more than we think. Otherwise, anyone with a bulk load of money would have beaten him hollow by now on YouTube. I don’t think simply money can end up creating content Mr. Beast creates.
As of this writing, Mr. Breast has about forty million subscribers who keep coming back for more videos because the videos reaffirm their belief that if you do something insanely nice to people they reciprocate with a bulk load of gratitude and happiness. I’m one of Mr. Beasts subscribers and even though I know the recurring pattern of his videos, the reactions still make me cry every once in a while. Showing and Appreciating genuine Gratitude is so powerful, it is what makes us fundamentally human and is in an important trait in defining who we are.
Now compare Mr. Beast’s YouTube channel with the work of Bill Melinda Foundation which happens to be much more significant. It solves much bigger problems. Saves many more lives and is generally much more altruistic. But it fails to elicit that same emotional response from regular people because there is no direct showcasing of gratitude. No one is breaking down in tears in front of a camera, no one is even showcasing their basic thankfulness. And yet, Bill Gates keeps on his acts of kindness, solving one global problem after another. That’s what makes him a true philanthropist. Most people you and I are going to work within our day to day lives aren’t evolved philanthropists like Bill Gates.
Gratitude In Everyday Life And Interpersonal Relationships.
Regular folks like you and me are not going to be dealing with philanthropists and neither are we ourselves philanthropists like Gates or monks like the Dalai Lama. When we do the dishes for our spouse, we want them to notice it even if they don’t directly thank us for it. When we provide for our families, we want some, albeit silent, recognition or gratitude for all the hard work we are putting in and appreciation for all the stress and crap we are putting up at the office just so that the paycheck keeps rolling in and everyone keeps smiling.
The same holds true at workplaces too. When we do something nice for someone at work, we want to see their reactions and bask in the glory of appreciation for a few seconds. None of that makes us greedy or self-centered. It just makes us human.
A few years ago, I was working at a client where I was managing a team of programmers. Every six months I was supposed to do a performance review of these developers and my review would directly impact the salaries of my team. While everyone else on the team was regular, two striking personalities surfaced during most of these reviews.
There was this dude who was one of the best performers who would put his heart and intellect in everything he did. In the review discussion, he was pretty grounded about his contributions, gave himself an eight out of ten, and when you gave him a nine on ten he would smile and tell you how much that meant for him.
Then there was this lady, who barely did average work. In the review discussions, she would advertise her accomplishments and often rate herself a full ten on ten. You really wanted to give her a six, but then her long pitch in the review session would guilt you into believing that she was really working hard and how your rating of seven (which you gave out of guilt) was completely unfair. I often came out of these sessions with a feeling that I had wronged her by giving her a seven and maybe I should reconsider my rating in the next review cycle.
One of these reviews I looked forward to. Another was a nightmare I wanted to avoid. No marks for guessing which one was which. The fundamental difference? One showed gratitude generously, the other used guilt shaming as a tool and tried to trick you into giving her a higher rating. And it worked for the first review because it took me off guard and made me question my own rating so I ended her giving a seven instead of a six. But as reviews passed, the guy’s rating slowly crept up to a ten on ten and the lady’s rating fell to a six on ten.
What happened? I got used to the guilt shaming. I realized that no matter how nice I was to this lady, she was always going to strive for a ten on ten without really putting in the effort. So why give her the extra point for the benefit of the doubt? The guy on the other hand showed some serious gratitude, put on a smile, took my feedback, and worked harder on it in the next review cycles. So why not give him an extra point for the benefit of the doubt?
His gratitude was feeding his hard work and his hard work making him more grateful for all the great things that were happening to him. It was a self full-filling cycle of gratitude and hard work leading to success.
Any guesses on who was more successful in the work tenure with me? And who got higher ratings? Who got more promotions? Who made more money? No marks for guessing. If you lack the ability to show gratitude, chances are that you are not going to be all that successful and you are going to spend a lot of time wondering why your ratings, designation, success or salary isn’t as high as it should be.
Gratitude Is An Art. Practice It.
For me, showing gratitude doesn’t come naturally. I feel a lot of it on the inside. But when it comes to showcasing it, I’m not as great as some of the folks you see on Mr. Beast’s videos. But I do see gratitude as an art and so to get better at it, I practice.
Recently, for example, I am undergoing a training program on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence at work and the trainer my managers have picked is a really experienced guy who provides one insightful session after another. The earlier me would have never done this, but now when every session ends, I make it a point to drop him a public message on how awesome the session was. And every time I do it, I realize how a few others follow. It feels good to be vocal about the appreciation you are feeling inside.
The first time I did this, it was at a work party a couple of years ago. I randomly thanked someone. That’s when I realized that a genuine thank you, said from the bottom of your heart, at the right place and the right time, is like a burden off your chest. You don’t say it to make the other person feel good. If you do it right and it’s genuine, it liberates you and makes you feel good.
And if you do it long enough you realize that you are not entitled to anything. No one has any duties towards you. You don’t deserve anything. And you learn that you are a product of God’s grace that shines over you through other people who stand by you and support you. The least you can do is smile and say a thank you.
My Gratitude Journal
I have a lot going for me, and yet on difficult days, it’s easy to lose a track of all the things that I am grateful for. At times, it’s hard to take your focus off that one prick who is making my life miserable or that one little incident that is influencing your whole world view and making it dark. It is at times like these that you have to remember how gratitude needs practice. This series of posts is all about that.
It’s about me being mindful of the things and people in my life that I am grateful for. I plan to use this series to remind me how lucky I am to have this grace on days when I feel like nothing is right. This little gratitude journal is supposed to make me take a quick stock of things that are still working for me and keep me on track. After all, and what’s the harm in being mindful about things that we can be thankful for and deliberately practicing a little bit of gratitude?