It won't help us reach world peace at warp speed.
But I am convinced that if we all paid a little more attention to the smaller details in life and the people who accomplish them then maybe we could all have more peace . . .
- if we appreciated those who magically get the “little” things done (you know – those things you long ago stopped noticing how or when they got done because they’ve not been un-done in any memory you care to scare up); or
- if we thanked people in our lives for the expected stuff that has become someone else’s “chore” (so much so that you don't bother being grateful that it's not your job); or
- if we were grateful to those who do the “they're-better-at-it-anyway” stuff; or
- if we noted with gratitude even a few of the someone elses who get things done because we assume that “they-have-more-time-to-do-it-because-after-all-they-work-from-home-or-don't-have-a-"real-job"-or-are-just-available"; or
- if we expressed thanks to those who did the things that we just decided that we were "too-clueless-when-it-comes-to-whatever-THAT-is-and-besides-that-other-person-always-makes-it-look-easy-so-they-won't-mind-if-we-just-let-them-do-it"; or
- or or or . . .
How many "thanks you's" are we missing every day?
The point is what if we just thanked each other more on the smaller scale, then who knows how far up the scale we could get? Maybe it’s not the immediate solution to world peace, but these are simple rungs on the peace ladder that we can climb. And it starts at home. And in our communities . . .
Not hard, right?
But the truth is – reality check! – that over time, much of what we do for our partner, our children, our family, our friends, our colleagues does go unnoticed. When we are “lucky”, we may get a texted “Thanks!” with an emoji or perhaps the equally brief email with exclamation points.
Most of the time, our deeds are not even nodded at / noticed / acknowledged. They are expected. And oftentimes, our well-done, good deed just leads to a request (or worse, an expectation) for more good deeds. Somehow there is some strange implied thank you when you are asked to take on more. And there is a strange (and estranged) implied gratitude when you "accept" the more to do – assuming you even had a choice or voice.
But when was the last time someone actually wrote you a note of thanks that filled even one side of the card or was scribbled on scrap paper or jotted on a napkin?
And – a bit of honesty here – when was the last time you left a handwritten note that simply said, “Dear <and you actually filled in a name>, I am so grateful when you empty the dishwasher! Love you! xxoo, <and you signed your name!!>”?
And if you did it recently, are you doing it enough? As in daily. As in find a different thing to appreciate each day; appreciate the hell out of that person; then randomly repeat the thank yous.
And you know what? Forget the damn paper on occasion. Because when was the last time, you looked someone in the eye – before they had a chance to look away and race to their next to-do – and really, truly thanked them with the appreciation deserving of a diplomatic peace treaty negotiation that avoided a government takeover? That thank you for making your day so much easier for “just” filling the soap dispenser or for rinsing the entire sink of shaved facial hair or for taking amazing notes during the meeting? When was the last time you thanked the stranger doing the thankless job of cleaning a public restroom?
When have you done that? When have you intentionally seized the moments (plural) and filled it with heartfelt-I-notice-you gratitude? Written. And, spoken.
Now let me flip this one more time . . .
When was the last time you stewed because, yet again, no one noticed your effort, your time, your consistency? Maybe it didn’t even take much effort and who else was going to do it anyway? But still you stew. And stew. AND stew. AND STEW. Unnoticed. Unforgiving. Feeling entirely forgettable.
In our house and in my life, I have given people “permission” to point out what I miss. No stewing allowed.
Did the room get cleaned and I inner-noticed (I hope!) but said nothing? Is the bathtub white again? Did the lights get shut off? Did the toothbrush holder get de-scummed? Did the trash AND recycling get collected throughout and then dragged to the curb? (And did the bins make it back in?) Did the memo go out on time? Did the meeting go off without any pings, rings, or dings? Did x get accomplished? Did y happen without my even asking?
Tell me. Please tell me.
I want to appreciate you. I want to thank you. I want you to know that the little things you do are a big deal to me because when you do it, I don’t trip over myself trying to figure out when I will have to do it or who I will have to ask – yet again.
It’s done. And it’s you. And I thank you. I want to thank you. I don’t want you to be unnoticed.
And if when I forget, then I can also thank you for reminding me.
That's my rule with subrules. In my home and in my life, the rule of thanks and reminding to give thanks is in the top 10.
- What you do is important to me.
- Who you are is a gift to me.
And perhaps you are my small step to keeping peace.
On any scale.
PS: From Kat: Be the parent that "makes" your child write thank you notes. Handwritten ones. With envelopes. And stamps. (Yes, even if you are just mailing them back to your own home.) You'd be surprised how many children don't know how to write "thank you" or even how to properly address an envelope. And I guarantee you that you'll never meet a child-now-grown-up who resents their parents for having forced them to do such a thing . . . Hint: No one is in therapy for having to write "thank you" cards. Bonus: it is such a lost art, I guarantee you that your child will be delighted by the thank you's for their thank you . . .
PPS: This just in from my proofreading daughter #2: I definitely do agree with writing thank you notes as a kid; it was annoying but helpful (and made me practice spelling. Specifically remember figuring out “favorite” and “neighbor”!) Thank you . . .
Yes, we all still write notes to others and to each other.
Tech Off. Talk On.