Not just any old thank you

Years ago, someone asked me to notice what I was doing, thinking, and feeling when I said the traditional greeting "How are you?" And what I discovered was that I was often saying it in passing, already 3 steps beyond the person before the phrase was complete. We all do it. I was particularly guilty of this while passing colleagues in the office.

So began my habit of intentionally asking - How are you? - and staying present to listen for a response. Most people simply said "good" and kept on walking, unaware of my attention. People who noticed were usually surprised. Occasionally, it was awkward. Mostly, it was nice. And a few times, something really important came out of it (like an opportunity to speak at a local conference).

When I saw a similar exercise for saying "Thank You" I was intrigued! This is my commitment for the month of November. To be more aware and thoughtful in my everyday expressions of gratitude. I'm excited to see what I notice and how it is received by others.


Here are the basics:

1. Start by observing. Notice when you say thank you. How habitual is the response? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought or are you being genuine? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction?

2. Pick one interaction a day. When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say thank you.

I will share my thoughts and experiences from the practice at the end of the month. I challenge you to try it out and share as well.

This practice comes from the article How to Practice Gratitude., Nov 25, 2019.

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