I think she’s right. Case in point: I recently attended EdCamp San Diego for the first time, and in between two very fascinating and powerful Zen Teacher sessions with amazing teachers, we retired to the educational facility's lounge to partake of the catered lunch, which included pizza, Caesar salad, fruit, muffins, and water bottles. One of my first thoughts (right after, “can I afford the calories of a second piece of pizza?") was: “Who can I thank?”
Eventually, I noticed the woman who was setting up the spread and I said, “Thank you for giving us lunch.” Her smile told me everything I needed to know about the importance of what I’d just done. It was clear that she felt more valued and appreciated. Even though the gesture took me but a nanosecond, it made a huge difference to another human being.
In another example, I went to an in-service last month where they gave us two giant binders of materials that I promptly and accidentally left on the back counter of the meeting room. After several phone calls to the district, I found and emailed the woman who kindly tracked them down for me. When I read the email thread later, I realized how many people she'd contacted and how much work she’d gone through, and so I promptly fired off an email to her saying “thank you for all the effort. I appreciate it.”
These two experiences, which happened virtually back-to-back, convinced me that I wanted to make saying “thank you” an intentional and regular part of my routine because as Lamott puts it, “. . .if we are lucky, gratitude becomes a habit.”
A SIMPLE EXERCISE IN “THANK YOU”
I remember once hearing about a very fun exercise in all of this “thank you” business. The general idea was that you put ten pennies in one pocket and every time you tell someone “thank you,” you move a penny to another pocket until you don’t have any pennies remaining in the first pocket.
What an amazingly mindful way to remember to express your gratitude!
We can also, of course, offer our thanks on a larger, more spiritual level. I do not know your faith system, but it can also be a transformative experience--and much closer to what my students would call Lamott’s main claim--to say “thank you” to your God, The Universe, The Most Powerful Essence, Mother Nature, or The Great and Omnipotent Is. Spending a moment proclaiming that you recognize your blessings, honoring their origin, and then sending a prayerful thanks to whatever brought you to this moment will enrich your existence in a way that is difficult to articulate.
So my advice is to try it because as Lamott says, “. . .at some point, we cast our eyes to the beautiful skies, above all the crap we’re wallowing in, and we whisper, “Thank you.”
So as Zen Teachers, the small, but powerful gesture of “thank you” can increase your sense of focus, peace, and tranquility. And as for you taking time out of your busy life to read this post. . .
Well. . .thank you. TZT