You can tell a lot about a person by analyzing the words and body language they employ when they talk. Words matter. A choice of terminology, composition — how they string words into phrases and sentences, and body movement in addition to tone are rich with human data.

Listen closely enough and you will detect someone's line of work, role, worldview, and personal culture from their style; this is the realm of observation, taking in clues that go beyond the sounds and modes of expression.

The ultimate test whether there is consistency between what someone says and what they do — the proverbial walking the talk — is a strong data point, yet not the ultimate one you would want to form a complete picture.

On the surface, people do act as they think they are expected to more often than they would themselves suspect and admit. It is only over time that the true colors appear from the patterns. Which means even with human data, you need enough points to connect before forming a picture.

Thanks to globalization and the (over)use of technology / social networks, much of culture is pixelated (not blurred, there is a distinction); we bring ourselves into situations and arrange the dots to create meaning. Hence how we select data points to understand what is going on needs to follow a thesis or hypothesis.

Having said all that, there is an equivalent for feeling a sense of gratitude in the most diverse cultures. It is our interior culture, how we interact with our thoughts, that determines the frequency, intensity, and duration of the attitude of appreciation and thankfulness we feel and communicate through words and actions.

In the U.S. Thanksgiving is the catalyst; if words are clues that give us away, they are also powerful intention tools that help us create dots worth connecting now and in the future.

What we think, say, and  do when no one is watching is becoming rarer (due to a range of reasons: from surveillance, to living out loud in social); this is not diminishing its importance, quite the opposite.

The best clues of interior culture and the signs of the times come to us through (mostly) letters and exchanges between people. See the quotes below.

What will the present-age words, emoji, images, and sounds say about us?

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“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” [Aesop]

“Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things.” [Horace]

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” [Cicero]

“You can tell the character of every man when you see how he receives praise.” [Seneca]

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” [Epictetus]

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” [Marcus Aurelius]

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” [Voltaire]

“There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate, and not a grain more. … A man sees only what concerns him.” [Henry David Thoreau]

“Forget injuries, Never forget kindness.” [Confucius]

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” [Steven Hawking]

“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.” [Zig Ziglar]

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” [Marcel Proust]

“To appreciate life's small moments, it helps to have a sense the whole can never be made perfect.” [Alain de Botton]

“You never fully appreciate what you had until you don’t have it anymore.” [Glenn Beck]

“It is a sign of mediocrity when you demonstate gratitude with moderation.” [Roberto Benigni]

“You'll miss the best things, if you keep your eyes shut.” [Dr. Seuss]

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” [G. K. Chesterton]

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” [Charles Dickens]


Beyond words, music# is one of the forms of expression I am thankful for.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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