Saturday, January 1, 2011

The lost art of saying Thank You

When we were kids, Mom would make the five of us sit down after Christmas (and birthdays or any occasion where we received a gift) and make us write thank you notes. She had cards, paper, envelopes, stamps, and even all the addresses. All we had to do was sit still, stop for a moment to remember someone's thoughtfulness, and say thanks.

From our perspective, you'd think we were being asked to milk the cows at dawn or scrub the toilets. We hated it then, but 20 years later, my appreciation for that tradition has grown (had the same experience with my Dad's classical music. It annoyed us as kids and now I have a wonderful affinity for Bach). I appreciate her efforts to teach us to be grateful for the kindness of others.

I woke up on New Year's Day thinking about how often people do something nice for us in a day (whether we know about it or not) and how many opportunities we have to say "thank you". Some scientists believe that human's can't simultaneously feel anger and gratefulness at the same time. So if our hearts and minds are thinking consciously about something we are thankful for, anger cannot co-exist in that moment. I find that fascinating.

So just for a day, I challenge you (and myself) to be on the lookout for all the things that friends, family and strangers do for you and make a point to express your thanks. If you sincerely thank someone and for a second they become grateful that you recognized their act of kindness, then they can't be feeling anger or offense either! That's a 100% return on your gratefulness investment :)

To my sweet friends, who let me vent about my frustrations:

To my boys, for reminding me to play:

To my mentors, who keep me motivated and inspired:

To the cashier at the supermarket, who let me run back to exchange an item even though there were are people behind me:

To the people at Midas, who tightened my oil filter for free last week:

To my partner (and favorite engineer), who makes me feel loved every day:

Who can you thank?


Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Holly, I love this post! I got a great photo of my 3-year-old daughter opening one of her Christmas gifts, and I'm printing out copies to put on homemade thank you notes from her. Of course, I'll have to write them, but I'll ask her questions to get quotes to include about each gift!

Becky Smith said...

So true! I have always been a stickler about my kids writing thank you notes and now that my son is in college, I am very pleased (and happily shocked!) when he lets me know that he got something in the mail and sent a thank you.

And I also agree about just being thankful for people we come across in every day life--and letting them know it!

Thanks for the reminder.

Sandie {A Bloggable Life | 365} said...

Love this! Expressing gratitude, appreciation & thanks have become ongoing themes in my life and on my blog, but I had never heard that theory---that it's impossible to hold thankfulness or gratitude at the same time as anger (although it makes perfect sense).

I think I'll quote this in an upcoming post---thank YOU for sharing this thought!

Wombat Central said...

Love all your thank you photos and wonderful thoughts about gratitude! Very creative. Of course, I have to tell you that the frugal lady in me cringed at the loss of that toothpaste. ;)

I make my kiddos write thank you notes, just as I was expected to do as a kid. I think it sets them up for a lifetime of being grateful for things others do for them.

Wombat Central said...

Came back to tell you I liked this post so much that I linked to it this evening. :)

jet said...

I loved this post! Such a creative way of saying Thank You. And yes, how sad... it does seem to be lost to some degree. However, I want to believe... it's still there.. don't you? Thanks for this blog... I just remembered there are a few people... I need to thank. Blessings...

OneLifeLiveIt said...

I did this one night to an old girlfriend whilst she slept but did it as ...I Love You ...using thousands of small flowers.

Have been sleep deprived ever since!

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