On making “thank yous” memorable

I am entitled to nothing.

These words spoken at my little brother’s high school graduation by the commencement speaker, Dr. Clint Smith, still resonate in my mind often.

If I really believed I was not entitled to anything, I would be popping out a thank you every chance I got. One of the most humble and grateful persons I have ever met used to be on staff at the White House. And after a prideful mistake that cost him his career, he discovered that he is entitled to nothing. When I met him at my first job out of college, he almost bowed to me while shaking my hand while uttering a sincere “thank you” for assisting in his visit at our office that week. I was blown away. I was an assistant, not a bigwig on the advisory council. I felt honored and seen. He knew that his visit had affected our office and so he thanked me. Ever since this impressionable experience, I’ve tried to be more vocal in giving thanks when I am given any good thing.

Here are three tangible ways I’ve found to do that:

  1. Say thank you for any good thing in my life to anyone who might be connected with it as many times as I enjoy that good thing. My inspiration for this is my 8 year old neighbor. Her parents have taught her to call people on the phone and say thank you immediately after a gift is given. It blows me away every time.
  2. Capitalize YOU of thank YOU in written communication. It is a visual sign that I see what YOU did.
  3. Give thanks for intangibles, like a kind word, a kind act, or hug. We often overlook these human touches, but these are what we need more of, because they are the gifts of human presence. By thanking people for these, you will let them know you like their presence in your life.

Thank YOU is shorthand for saying “I am receiving the gift, the effort, the work you gave me. I see it and it is good.” Thank goodness for the person who invented the verb “to thank.” It saves us from saying all that other stuff.Feeling Gratitude William Arthur Ward

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