Two simple words — Thank you.
They are easily thrown around, with a casual air, without a thought of the precious weight they carry. They are easily ignored, with a nonchalant shrug, without hesitation at denying their apparent uselessness. It is a product of daily habit, upbringing, or just independent choice. We say thanks to the barista at Starbucks while running out with our cup of coffee. We give a thankful wave of the hand to the courteous driver who lets us cut in. We heap expressions of gratitude upon our friends and family who help us out of a tough situation. At the same time, we also forget to thank others who we readily take for granted. We don’t explicitly thank our partners for having our backs, our mothers for healing our wounds, or our friends for holding our hands. We don’t thank our body for regenerating despite our abuse, our mind for thinking despite our tyrannical overworking, or our heart for beating despite our anguish. Some say it is imperative we give thanks, while others think it’s a waste of time. It is held with due respect for those who know gratitude matters, but it is also pushed aside by those who are impervious to the significance of expressing gratitude.
Sometimes it might seem unnecessary – thanking the doorman who holds the door open for you, the cashier who bags your groceries, or the waitress who serves you your food. Sometimes it can feel a little redundant – thanking your regular babysitter for watching the kids, thanking your sister for lending a listening ear (again), or thanking the gardener for mowing the lawns every other week. Do I really have to thank them for just doing their job? Do I have to say thanks for something so simple? Sometimes it might look overdone and repetitive. Is there any value left in those words when I have to say them repeatedly? It might sound fake and silly, just some careless words that slip out without us even giving them a second thought. At other times, when the absence of gratitude is so overwhelmingly obvious, it places us in uncomfortable, awkward, and very embarrassing situations. There could be hurt feelings, disappointed expectations, and diminished opinions that result from a loss of appreciation, a lack of recognition, and a deficit of thankfulness.
There is a fine line between practiced gratitude and genuine gratefulness. It is so easy to stick to our tunes, play deaf to the music of the world, and carry on as if we are the only ones who matter in our lives. Why give thanks when we don’t have a moment to spare to even acknowledge the gratitude we should be feeling? Somewhere deep inside of us it is quietly lurking, but we just can’t be bothered to haul it to the surface and actually just say “thank you”, to actually feel thankful when we say those words outloud? Have we really become so lazy? So self-absorbed?
It’s a mixed bag, but I have no mixed feelings about it. Saying thank you is a must. It’s a must to say thank you to someone doing their job (more so when it is in service to you). It’s a must to give thanks to your loved ones, who are watching you, helping you, supporting you, and forever providing a shoulder to lean on. It’s a must to thank your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, fellow citizens anytime they help you, be it big or small. Give credit where it’s due, even if you have to give it again and again. Acknowledge, appreciate, and voice your gratitude. Be grateful for your blessings, your accomplishments, and your good times. Be thankful for what you have and what you love. Say thanks even if you don’t receive any in return. Give recognition when it’s due, and even when it’s almost-due.
It sounds all a little overstated, but don’t underestimate the power of expressing gratitude. It is not just about having manners. It is about genuinely feeling thankful and expressing that feeling of thankfulness to the giving world around us. When we say thank you, we make somebody else smile. They feel recognized. They feel appreciated. They feel good. We have reached out, just a tiny bit, and figuratively given them a pat on the back. (The size, or significance, of their action is irrelevant here.) You saying thanks made them happy, maybe just for that second, for a few minutes after, or for a couple of hours. Or maybe it just made their day. The point is, saying thank you can warm not just the recipient’s heart, but also lighten your own spirit. It has a positive cyclical effect – thank you, you’re welcome – allowing one good deed to effectuate another equally good gesture, creating a happy vibration between the two. It’s something so small, and yet so magnanimous in its spread.
So… drop the laziness (or unwillingness), eliminate the selfishness, and be grateful for the world around and within you.
Start by saying thank you.