On Sunday, we spent the evening with friends. Our banter ignited an insightful energy and in the background our daughters laughed and played in a way only children understand. I thought about this evening two days later and smiled, recalling the sunset that I caught from our friend’s balcony, a complex layer of pinks, purples and a brazen yellow signifying the ending of the day. There were several gifts from that night that lingered in my mind and these thoughts prompted me to open my desk drawer. I reached for my stationery. A fuchsia flower decorated the front and inside the words, Thank You, appeared on the creme background. I wrote a special note emphasizing our gratitude and mailed it to our friends.
I’ve always believed in the power of the words, “Thank You.” One of my favorite quotes about gratitude is from Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” For me, saying thank you is not only courteous, but is an active practice to participate in mindfulness. It is the the simplest way to affirm all of the people in your life, from the grocery clerk to your son or to the stranger who picks up your daughter’s pacifier at a restaurant.
In the days of texting, email and other impersonal ways to communicate our gratitude, the power of thank you gains more importance. How many times in the last year have you written a thank you note or picked up the phone to express your gratitude to a friend or a family member? I often hear many of my friends complaining that they cannot remember the last time they received a handwritten note in the mail. Its become a novelty to see a colored envelope in the mail that displays handwriting not generated by a computer.
Over the years, I’ve collected various thank you or handwritten notes that I’ve received in the mail. A few times a year, by sheer chance, one note might cross my path. I reread the lines written inside and smile at the various ways friends and family members express their thanks. Most of them end with those two words, thank you, and I am reminded again of a moment we shared. I smile, tuck the note away and that sentiment lingers throughout the day.
Saying thank you often carries the power to uplift, soften hurt feelings or build relationships. I saw it again, this evening, with my daughter. She wrote me a little love note and I wrote back two words, “Thank You.” As she grabbed the note and read the words, her skip back to her room carried an extra bounce.
There is power in the words, thank you. We should never underestimate its reach.
This post originally appeared on the First Day.