Graduate to Gratitude
When ever I visit a new country, the first words I make sure to learn is “thank you” in that country’s respective language. This move not only shows you did your homework, but it more importantly gives you the ability to convey appreciation for someone else’s efforts. Put bluntly, the product of this simple act of memorization can be applied at any time to deliver a number of complex messages to the recipient about respect, appreciation, gratitude and humbleness.
Before you learn the words for “thank you” in another language, however, ask yourself if you are using those words often enough in your own. Since letting people know you are grateful seems reserved only for the occasional holiday or major event, I want you to question whether you are appreciating the great things that are happening around you every day. My experience has taught me that most people seem to focus solely upon what they are without instead of what they are within. Whether a conversation or complaint about a lack of money, title, relationships or fitness, many people find it easier to focus on what they have lost versus what they have left. In school, we were judged by the answers we missed. In fitness, we are assessed and assigned according to the skills and attributes we don’t yet possess. Business ranks us according to our incompetencies and our personal relationships and possessions are subject to numerous comparisons with someone that always seems to have more.
In this age focused on deficiency, do not forget that great things are happening to you all the time. Knowledge of this fact puts you in possession of the powerful gift of gratitude that can change your life and the lives around you. Because it is easier to see and comment on what people are doing wrong instead of right, we often miss the chance to appreciate the people around us. Perhaps you don’t say thank you because you feel under-appreciated. If you are like most people, your ability to show gratitude may just be under-developed. Just like starting to work out or a new diet plan, saying thanks isn’t easy at first. To appreciate a person for their efforts takes strength, but the more you do it, the stronger your skill becomes.
If you are going to improve your thank you power, you will have to practice. The more you train, the more your life will improve. Here are three training tips for improving your “thank you” skills:
1. Make it Personal
Go out of your way to personally thank someone for helping you. Instead of an email or text, go for a hand written note or an impromptu visit.
2. Make it Precise
There is a big difference between a simple “thanks” and specifically recounting how someone helped you. Go the extra mile and show how important their help really was.
3. Make it Public
A public thank you makes your gratitude permanent. To show appreciation in public only strengthens a thank you’s power.
When I was young, I didn’t understand the power of a thank you. In fact, when I graduated high school, I thought I had no one to thank but myself. Many times, when great moments happen to me, I seemed to immediately forget all of the people that helped make it possible. When I was given the opportunity to be the keynote presenter in front of thousands at my alma mater’s graduation, I wanted to make sure those young students didn’t make the same mistake I had once made. In fact, I set the stage in such a way, there was no way they couldn’t.
You may think a thank you is your gift to someone else, but saying thank you is actually a gift to you. Science and research shows that becoming more gracious and appreciative leads to increased mental well-being, more productive work, improved relationships and positive health benefits. Did I need to read the research? Nah. All I had to do was give this speech and I had my proof. In the following video, you might think I was giving a gift to the parents of those kids. But the gift was for the students.
The purpose of that speech was not only to remind the honored graduates they had people to thank, but to show them the energy that can be created when you appreciate others for their help and support during your great moment. The next time you are ready to accept gratitude and appreciation for your Big Moment, ask yourself who you need to thank for making that moment possible. The more appreciation you share, the more you will get back in return so never miss a chance to appropriately thank someone for something that has helped you.
When you do this, you get to receive and give a gift on your great day. There is no greater feeling because you get to share your moment with everyone. After I gave the speech, although parents came up to thank me, even more thank you’s came from the kids! That proved to me the students got the most important lesson that day: if you use your ability to say thank you, it truly is better to give than receive.
Who do you need to thank today?