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Give Thanks

Thankful. Thankfulness. Thank you.

I am a firm believer in the “Waiter Rule,” coined by Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry: “If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person.” I waited tables at a country club, late in college. I had plenty of experiences with people who were kind to their guests and rude to me, and plenty of experiences with people who were kind to their guests and kind to me. Waiting tables made me very intentional about treating waiters well. I am always sure to ask their name, and use it, leave a good tip, and always, always, always say thank you.

Next time you are out in the world, stop, make good eye contact (I’m also a firm believer in good eye contact), and say thank you. Say thank you to your waiter, to the cashier at the grocery store, to the girl taking tickets at the movie theater, to your teachers, parents, friends, siblings, significant other, children.

Say thank you when your waiter fills your water glass, when the cashier hands you your receipt, when the girl taking tickets points you in the direction of your theater. Thank your mom for her annoying reminders to clean your bathroom. Thank your friends for those hilarious gifs they send you in the middle of the night. Thank your siblings for putting up with your unique brand of weird. Thank your teachers as they head off for Thanksgiving break with your papers in their hands to grade and plan for the weeks to come before Christmas. Thank your significant other (if you have one) for loving you honestly and kindly. Thank your children (if you have any) for being light and life, even if they’re exhausting.

The benefits of saying “thank you” are twofold. First, saying “thank you,” shows the people around you that they have value. It shows the waiter and the teacher and the ticket taker that they are important. It tells the people around you who may not feel noticed, that they are noticed and valuable. Your parents and significant others and siblings and children will always understand that you love them. Saying “thank you,” acknowledges that the people around you pour into your life. They make your life richer and more beautiful, and they deserve to know.

Second, when you are looking for things to say “thank you” for, you are becoming more thankful. Being thankful requires that we slow down, search for beauty, and acknowledge it. And that changes everything. It changes the way you see the world.

An author I love and admire named Ann Voskamp wrote a great book called One Thousand Gifts about looking for the small gifts all around you, and watching how thankful reflection can transform your life.

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

So bring light into your world. Give thanks. Discover joy. Say “thank you” for all the tiny gifts in your life. Say “thank you” for a smile from the baby in the passing stroller. Say “thank you” for the exceptional dinner your mom made. Say “thank you” for the beauty of a sunset, for the joy of a family board game, for the peace of a warm bed to sleep in. You will bring more joy into your life, and into the lives of those around you.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving week. Stop, look, and give thanks.

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