Lessons in Expressing Gratitude for Life’s Little Moments

Standard

cup-of-coffee-236808I was trained by rote to say “thank you,” with any interaction. Maybe it is because I was raised in Catholic schools and feared of the wrath of the nuns if I wasn’t super polite at every moment.

Spontaneous “thank yous” began at an early age with: ‘Thank you Sister Mary-Something for informing the entire class that I am wearing Lafayette blue knee highs instead of the mandated navy blue and calling my parents in for a teacher/parents and child conference to label me as a rebel and discipline risk in 6th grade.

These days, I hear myself saying “thank you” after I’ve held the door open for someone at the grocery store.

“Thank you” is a word that is always on the tip of my tongue, a word that I apparently misuse in often inappropriate and incorrect ways, just because I am trained to say it. And when I do think I am sincerely saying “thank you,” I am not always fully cognizant of and appreciative of why I am saying it and what I am truly grateful for.

Until yesterday in a series of ordinary, turned extraordinary encounters I had during the course of some pretty routine stuff.

First, I was on the call with AT&T’s “Information” trying to hunt down the phone number of someone not Google-able. I finished my query saying ‘thank you” to the operator. She kept me on the phone for another 30 seconds at least thanking me for thanking her and saying that rarely happens. “People usually just slam down the phone,” she told me. “Thank you for saying thank you,” she added.

A little while later, I was headed to a meeting and stopped in at the local Starbucks I frequent. I was running late, and the rush-hour crunch was over. When I was handed my soy latte, the clerk said “Thanks, it is on us.” Why, I wondered, and then she responded: “To thank you because we appreciate how you always tell us thank you.”

Later in the day I came home to find a hand-written thank you note from a friend to thank me for thanking her for sharing her story in our book, The Grateful Life.

These little whispers of “thank you,” startled me. But they also reminded me that even though I sometimes speak the “thank you’ word automatically, it comes back around in ways both small and profound.

In small, seemingly insignificant interactions, my “thank yous” did make an impact. Being grateful, and telling people you are thankful for them, is significant. Do it. Try it. Like me, you may experience the enormous impact it can make in your life.

I know that it is important for me to be appreciative. And now I’m grateful that I was taught at an early age to incorporate “thank you,” into my every interaction, even during times when it seems unnecessary.

Mary Beth Sammons