As a kid, I remember I had a small diary with a blue cover. I often wrote in that diary about things that I read or some event that made an impact on the way of my thinking. One such statement in that diary I wrote was “never underestimate the power of good words.” 

I have been an avid reader since childhood. I remember reading in some magazine about how kind Abraham Lincoln was both in his personal and official life as President of the United States. Though he held such a high office, he treated everyone with kindness. The magazine quoted the President as saying that whenever he had a few words of appreciation for his secretary, early in the morning, it brought a smile on her face and sparked off instant energy and enthusiasm in her working. So the President understood the power of kindness and good words and adopted it as a practice.  

On reading the story, I immediately wrote down these words in my diary “never underestimate the power of good words.” I have tried to inculcate this attitude of kindness in my behaviour till it became a natural part of the way I interacted with others. “Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out,” Abraham Lincoln had said.  

Kindness and a few words of appreciation may not be a great deal, but some find it hard to praise others or even say a simple thank you. They feel praise can spoil the subordinate or junior, maybe boost their ego or make the person arrogant. I don’t believe this is true. Perhaps, it is our own inadequacy or lack of worth that makes us shy of appreciating someone or saying a simple thank you.  We assume since it’s the duty of others to do their given work, then where is the need to say a thank you. 

Nita Agarwal

When I was in my late twenties, I went to live in Moscow, Russia. To my delight, I found Russians frequently use  the word spasiba, which means thank you. Children said spasiba to their mother after every meal. I found it a very pleasant habit. Normally, we take many things for granted that a mother does for the family. Unfortunately in India, we very rarely appreciate the hard work any mother puts in doing so many household chores.

In fact, often household chores are not even looked at as work. People assume that it gets done without much effort. This attitude often makes many housewives feel worthless. This is a common issue in many homes in India as many women till few decades back, didn’t take up jobs in offices, though things have changed now. It’s only when the woman fell ill and all the housework fell on the rest of the family members, did they realise the hard work she puts in for everyone, every day, without a word of appreciation. Now many housewives prefer to call themselves homemakers.  After all she makes the home, where the family lives to share happy and not-so-happy moments of life together.

I have been a teacher for many years and I still cherish those pleasant memories. One day while I was teaching, I told my class kids, around seven years of age, to say thank you to their mothers after dinner that night. The next day, as soon as the children entered the class I heard a buzz of happy, excited kids. They were all talking at the same time, recounting how their mothers had hugged them when they thanked them after dinner. Imagine if in all our relationships, we could learn to be little more appreciative or say a simple thank you for even small things done. I am sure the world then will become a better place to live in and many other small and big hurts can be forgiven and forgotten. 

“Teach the children so that it will not be necessary to teach the adults,” said Abraham Lincoln. So let us raise positive kids in the negative world of cut-throat competition and make them open minded and magnanimous towards life and people they come in contact with. Let’s teach the child to appreciate and also let the child feel appreciated, too. A child, who is always appreciated and encouraged, grows into a fine, confident human being. 

I inculcated this habit consciously to say thank you to everyone who did any work for me. I always sensed a pleasant feeling in return from them. I believe appreciation takes away a lot of tiredness and a sense of a quiet and happy contentment seeps into our being. In office if someone is appreciated for the work done, then I am sure the person will work with double enthusiasm, the next time and every job, thereafter. Words of appreciation, just a simple thank you, makes for a winning atmosphere―like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Feeling of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual talents are appreciated. People of all ages need appreciation and encouragement. We should never hesitate to applaud. We need to teach children to give what they would like to receive. A few words of praise cost nothing, yet why do we struggle to come up with them at the right time?

Avoid letting even the smallest good thing go past you without a word of praise. It makes you come across as positive and upbeat. Most importantly, it can make somebody’s day. The day we learn to appreciate people without hesitation, we would have taken the first step towards a life of goodness.

That blue childhood diary is still with me, lying hidden in the corner of some shelf.  I am going to look for it, retrieve it and keep it in front of me―so that I ‘never underestimate the power of good words.’

Nita Agarwal is an ex-Table Tennis State player, qualified teacher, self-taught budding painter, a successful blogger, who writes about her observations of life and people; and most importantly, a working housewife. 

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