23/01/2013 13:31 GMT | Updated 25/03/2013 05:12 GMT

Have We Given Up Being Nice?

I was in the queue in a supermarket today and the woman behind me kept bumping her trolley into me. She obviously wanted to jump ahead but my shopping was half way through the till.

I bit my tongue but when she knocked my calves for the umpteenth time I had to say something. She was so surprised that I had dared speak out and immediately went on the defensive, effing and blinding.

I then went to another shop and overheard an old fella doing the same thing to another chap trying to push in. We live in a villagey suburb so cant even blame it on the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

I think it is a bigger problem than that. We have lost respect for our fellow human beings. We don't respect their personal space, their feelings, their boundaries, them full stop. We have become so self-obsessed we can't see as far as our own nose.

You only have to watch Downton Abbey, the brilliant period drama from ITV to see how it used to be so much more pleasant and not so very long ago. Everyone considers and respects each other, upstairs and downstairs. A curtesy and a lift of the hat, a door opened and even in moment of anger politeness is maintained.

Today we have none of that deference or politeness. We jostle in the street, push in on the bus and shout on the phone in a full train carriage. We check our phones whilst eating, tweet whilst chatting and skype whilst cooking. We have no qualms saying what we want online, rubbishing this and criticising that. We will only too quickly publish intimate, personal info, photos or videos on facebook no matter the consequence. Of course there are positives to such platforms but they are at a huge price.

I noticed this Christmas especially how material pressure is through the roof and gratitude sub-zero. Daddy, I need an iPhone 5 otherwise my friends will laugh at me. Mum, can you tell the family I just want money for new year. Bla bla bla. Then after all the unwrapping the little notes that we used to send as kids have gone out the window. It's either a 'tx' via text or fresh air.

We also happily take from our friends and family, 'drain' them with our needs and problems rather than radiating out good energy and boosting them. How many times has someone called you recently and talk about them without letting you get a word in edgeways.

Worst of all is how we talk to each other. More swear words than ever, monosyllables rule and there is a dissatisfied thread. We have so much yet nothing is ever enough. It all spells one word. Ingratitude.

One of my friends runs a positive psychology program which is all about happiness (rather than issues and drama). Her book is called 3 Kifs Par Jour in French or three things to be happy for, three 'kicks'. As soon as you start looking around and being thankful for the big and little things in your lives the snappy, cynical, selfish tinge disappears.

Imagine if we all started the day thinking about the three things we are most grateful for rather than moaning about being tired, having to go to work or the bad weather. We smile at others on the tube instead of grimace - apparently the Olympics temporarily lifted commuter spirits. We let people in in front of us on the road. We actually chat to people in queues.

2013 is meant to be the year of change, the year of the snake. I'd settle for something simpler. The year of p's and q's, the year of being nice to each other, for a change.