A few years ago, I discovered with wonder a new form of magic: expressing appreciation to others for something they had done. And modern life offers us a thousand different opportunities to manifest that magic.

A small example: I live in a community that makes a special effort to decorate public places. Multicolored flowers are planted everywhere, and it’s done with consummate art.  What a joy to see the face of a town worker or gardener in the municipality light up when I congratulate him on what he and his colleagues are doing. And I’m back with more! Because wherever you turn, your gaze falls on flowers or greenery arranged with impeccable taste.  It has become almost a new sport for me.

Why not thank that cashier for her radiant smile, or the bus driver for his dexterity in driving his huge machine… and be greeted by a “Gee, nobody ever told me that” or similar comment that underlines how much we take for granted what very often involves an immense personal investment in effort, patience, intelligence, sometimes courage, endurance and so many other qualities.

Yes, we did express it briefly for caregivers and other helpers during the period of confinement, and it was great, but the personal touch of your smile, the sincerity of your tone of voice, the deep unexpressed gratitude you feel deep in your heart…. All of that can only come out of personal contact. Not only will these mini good deeds that you sow like the little white stones of Hansel and Gretel illuminate the day, and why not the week or even the life of the person you are addressing, but it will also bring you a gentle  and deep joy that will enrich you just as much.

And why not be imaginative, use striking images that the people involved may remember for years to come? “I’ll give you the Michelin Restaurant Guide top rating ” or “I’ll tell all my friends to come and buy your pies” (notice to readers who might visit me in Veyrier, where we have a fabulous baker!)

This practice can transform the life of a family or couple that gets into rut, or even develops cracks, a workplace worn out by stress, boredom or routine and so many other situations.

So – the ball is in your court… and let me have some feedback!

Excerpt from a blessing in 365 Blessings to Heal Myself and the World

“I bless myself in my ability to stay open to the innumerable opportunities in my life to express loving-kindness: giving up my seat or carrying the bag of an elderly citizen, saying a kind word of appreciation to the supermarket cashier for her smile, exchanging a few words with a homeless beggar rather than just anonymously giving some change and hurrying on – and the thousand other opportunities with which my life is graced.

I bless myself in my ability to see that every act of kindness is also a gift to myself, broadening my heart’s outreach, often softening the use of my time, awakening my awareness, filling me with quiet joy and above all teaching me to see myself in my sister or brother. For truly we shall love our neighbors only as we recognize them to be the reflected image of who we are.”

Pierre Pradervand