Lesson Purpose: To show that ingratitude is a cause of strife and unhappiness at home, in the office, and in organizations.


To show that gratitude has rewards.


The Lesson


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principle difference between a man and a dog. COLOR=”#000000″ FACE=”Arial” >—Mark Twain


I’ve been accused of many things, but one of them isn’t that I’ m not grateful. COLOR=”#000000″ FACE=”Arial” >— General George Patton


We all can learn from our dogs, can’t we?


Give a mean dog a bone and he will wag his tail with glee and he will not bite you. That is gratitude.


We all know this story:


An assistant manager, Bill, knows his superior’s job better than anyone else. Bill is an excellent worker He comes in early and leaving late. Bill has worked for the company for many years and never takes a day off except for holidays and vacation. Then his superior leaves the company. You know the rest: Bill did not get promoted. A person was brought in from outside who was not as qualified as the faithful employee, Bill.


How about this?


A housewife, Mary, cleans her husband den, gets her hair fixed, puts on a new dress and hands her husband a glass when he comes in the door. The table is set with fine linen and china and candles. The meal is special, prime rib, her husband’s favorite. The husband comes in and says, “Boy, did I have a tough day.” He then gulps down the wine and the dinner and then sits in front of the TV for three hours watching movie reruns. He never mentions the dinner, her hair, her new dress, his clean den, or the work his wife went to. Mary is hurt but she pretends that everything is okay. That’s just the man she married.


So what happens next?


Bill leaves the company and takes a job in the town were Mary lives. Both take an art class at the local college on Thursday evenings. Bill tells Mary how he was treated by his last employer. She thinks about her thoughtless husband. She likes Bill. First they stop for coffee after the art class. Next thing you know, they are in each others arms. Mary leaves her husband and marries Bill.


So what drove them together?


     The devil’s demon called INGRATITUDE!     


Korean War Story


When I was in the army (an eighteen-year-old Sergeant First Class),  a corporal, an old vet, age forty-two, came up to me and said, “Sergeant, I’m having a bad time with my wife. I don’t know what to do.”


I listened to his story and said, “You have alienated your wife, Corporal. If you want to get her back, then you are going to have to go out of your way to help her. Do the dishes, vacuum the floor, do more for her than what she does for you. If you don’t, she will leave you.”


Two weeks later, the corporal came back to me. He said, “Sergeant, I did what you said and my wife and I have never been happier. Thank you for helping us.”


Now that is a nice brace of words, isn’t it! THANK YOU!


How did I as a teenager know what to tell the corporal to save his marriage? No one ever taught me that. (I did learn about doing more than 50% to preserve a marriage at the university after I returned from fighting in Korea.) I learned how two people should treat each other from my parents. They shared life’s load together. They never argued. In fact, they worshiped each other. My dad could me a harsh man to others, but never to my mother in a thousand years.




Mrs. Hanwood, the First Grade teacher, decided to give the children a treat for working hard in their reading class. She stayed up late baking cookies, each of which was in the shape of an animal. She decorated the cookies with frosting in red, green, blue, orange, brown, and yellow. She made several lions and decorated them in orange with yellow tails and manes.
She took great pains to decorate each animal cookie just right.


The next day she showed the cookies to the children on a silver tray. The little boys ran up and grabbed handfuls of cookies. The little girls fought for their share of cookies. In just a few minutes, the cookies were gone. Cindy Williams didn’t get one cookie!


The teacher was very sad and decided that she would never make cookies for the class again. When she got home, she sat down and cried.


The next day, several of the girls brought flowers to the teacher and two boys brought her an apple. They told the teacher that the gifts were for her baking cookies. Several children said they were sorry for being so rude. This made the teacher feel better. She knew she would bake cookies for her class again.




We might ask why the children didn’t be polite and thank the teacher the day before. Well, when Cindy Williams got home from school, she said, “Mother, Mrs. Hanwood made beautiful animal cookies for us and brought them to school. The boys tried to grab them all, but some of the girls fought back and got some cookies. Mother, I didn’t get one cookie.”


Her mother said, “Poor Mrs. Hanwood.”  


Cindy said, “What about me, Mother? I didn’t get one cookie!”


“Cindy, the boys were rude and inconsiderate. Did they thank Mrs. Hanwood for the cookies?”


“No, Mother. I forgot to thank her too.”


“Well, what are we going to about it?” Mother asked.


Mother didn’t wait for Cindy’s answer.  She called the mothers of the other children and told them what happened. The mothers knew what to do. They told the children to always be polite and never leave from such a treat without thanking the teacher.




Have a family discussion on gratitude. How can you make the family better?


Do a chore that is not yours to do. Like set the table for your wife or mother while she is preparing dinner.


Cook dinner for the family! No, not you Mother!


When someone does something nice for you, say, THANK YOU! Do something nice for them.


Think about and do a service for someone who has done something nice for you.


Serve a dessert after the lesson. See if everyone says, THANK YOU!




Copyright©2002 by John Taylor Jones, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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