Two Magic Words

There are two words which, when used often, can bring more harmony to a relationship, more peace to a difficult situation, more beauty to the world, and more ease to parenting. What are these two special words and why aren’t we using them all the time? The words are simply … thank you.

Recently I visited my aunt in her retirement home. Aunt Gertrude is almost ninety-eight years old. Among the hundred or so residents, Aunt Gert was clearly the most popular among the staff. Here are some of the comments I heard from them:
“Your aunt is such a great lady.”
“She is my very favorite.”
And this one was my favorite.
“I like my job here because I get to see Gertrude each day.”

I watched the staff go out of their way to be kind and thoughtful to her, and give her hugs at every opportunity. My aunt is a quiet person and almost totally deaf. I wondered what there was about her that made her so popular. As I watched her carefully it gradually dawned on me. Aunt Gert noticed every kindness shown to her and with a sweet smile would quietly say, “thank you.” She thanked the staff and her fellow residents for even the smallest act of thoughtfulness. Her acknowledgement of them brought an even greater outpouring of kindness. One staff person pulled my aside and said, “When I’m having a difficult day myself I try to do something for your aunt. Her gratitude always makes me feel better.

Having our love received is a basic human need. Children, siblings, mates, parents, colleagues, bosses and employees all have the same need to be received or acknowledged. The simple words, “thank you,” said with sincerity and perhaps even a smile, can open doors in a relationship.

When our son was little, he frequently wrapped toys from his room and offered them to me as gifts. I could see how much he enjoyed my thanking him for these gifts. I tried to balance this by also thanking him for the loving wonderful boy that he was. I would tell him, “Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life. Thank you for your love. Thank you for being here with me.” His huge smile revealed how much he enjoyed being acknowledged and received.

When was the last time you thanked the ones you work with? Have you recently thanked your partner for loving you? Have you lately noticed the little things this person has done for you? Things so small it is easy to take them for granted? Have you really taken the time to observe the special things your children are perhaps doing every day for you? How about your parents? There is so much to thank them for, if you really pay attention to details. Looking each of these people in the eyes and simply acknowledging a kindness or loving gesture can make an enormous difference in both of your lives. I had brought my Aunt Gert a bunch of flowers, but had forgot about them and left them in my car.

Now I smiled to myself and realized I had a chance to once again experience the magic of her gratitude. I excused myself, ran out to the car, and brought the flowers back in to the retirement home. As I approached my beloved aunt, I watched her face light up and her lips form those famous two words. She said them not once, but three times. Without thinking, I found myself saying, “Aunt Gert, thank you for your thank you. It’s what I love the most about you!” We both smiled and hugged.

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