My Favorite Way to Give and Receive Thanks:
After an immediate verbal “thank you”, my favorite way to give thanks is to write a letter to the person. A letter not only thanking them for the gift, or their help or whatever it was they gave me, but also explaining how knowing that person has made my life better.
This act has resulted in my favorite way to receive thanks. My most memorable received thank you was from a group of storytelling colleagues who responded to a thank you I had sent THEM thanking them for being my teachers, mentors and role models.
I have been surprised and delighted that, over the years, my written thank you notes have prompted the receivers to write me back their own thank you letter. This makes me realize we all want and need to be recognized for who we are and we all need connections and community.
When the response to my verbal “thank you” is a grunt or a “no problem,” I feel empty.
A heartfelt “thank you” can make a person’s day better–as it has for me many times.
And a “you’re welcome!” can have the same effect.
Back in 2014 I watched an Oprah show featuring Happiness Expert Shawn Achor. He suggested various ways to increase your happiness quotient by devoting 21 Days to developing 2 Minute Happiness Habits. This process called to my Soul and so each day I sent an email to a different friend, colleague, neighbor or family member. At night I would go to sleep and ask my inner Wise Woman to send me the name of who I could write to the next day. Each morning someone’s name or face would pop into my mind and I would immediately write them the email, while I was still in bed. Okay, sometimes I had to take a quick bathroom break first. But writing the email was my morning mission.
Below is an example:
I have finished my Brene Brown e-class and you were a big part of my discoveries and celebrations because you have supported and cajoled and nudged and sometimes kicked my butt through the years. And for all that I say, “Thank you!”
I have not truly felt alone–a feeling I have felt since childhood– since you became my Bestest Friend. I know there is someone who always sees me at my highest potential and who still loves me no matter how deep a hole I dig to try to hide in. Again, thank you. Your friendship, like my faith in God, is my North Star.
After I wrote the message that flowed from my heart, I added the below explanation:
You have just been made a part of my 21 Days of 2 Minute Happiness Habits.
Each day I email a different special person in my life–like YOU–and praise or thank them.
It’s kind of like a Happiness game of “Tag, you’re IT!”
So for today, You are my IT.
I wonder how much Happiness we could spread if we all played this game for just 21 days?
It could change the world.
I know it’s true because YOU have changed mine for the better.
I recently reread those 21 letters and, without exception, I received a letter in return. Expressing their surprise, or amazement, or joy in reading how they were appreciated by someone. Like this one:
It’s always interesting when someone else describes your qualities…I just think “really?”
They see that in me. Wow!
Probably THE BEST THANK YOU I ever saw was at my children’s elementary school. The beloved Principal was retiring and the whole school participated in an outdoor tribute to her. All us parents and grandparents sat on the hill overlooking this program filled with songs and flowers and presents. The finale was my favorite song (music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) from my favorite musical, Wicked. Amplified so it flew up to us, filled our hearts and then floated through the open sky were these words: