If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. -Meister Eckhart
As a kid, my mom use to “force” us to write thank you notes.
While I am sure her intent was for us to show thanks and to be polite to the gift givers in our lives, the message got lost in the obligation.
It became more of getting the physical note out the door and an act of social conformity rather than about gratitude.
No matter how irrelevant or unthoughtful the gift, we were obligated to write a thank you note. Playtime, TV, toys, sports, were all postponed until the stack of cards was written and sent. My wrist and fingers would hurt from the repetitive mechanical nature of being forced to say thanks.
Yes, I was thankful for the gifts. However the lesson of saying thank you out of true appreciation and gratitude was omitted in onus.
As I have grown older, I have realized how important it is to be thankful for the things in my life no matter how big or small.
Ten years ago, I focused on only the “good” things in life to be thankful about and conveniently discarded the “bad” things.
This did propel my life forward but there was always the lingering question and unresolved feelings of the other things that are often hard to say thank you for.
Those things don’t just go away. As Jung put it “What you resist persists.”
In the ever evolving effort to grow my life and be the best I can be I have begun to ask myself what are the lessons in that “bad” relationship, experience, mistake, decision etc.
Usually, because I can’t go back and change something, this analysis has to lead to acceptance and with acceptance, thanks. I now know I have to be thankful for the gifts of what the challenge brought, the lessons learned and the growth that occurred only because of that specific experience.
This made me rethink the act of writing thank you notes.
Instead of doing it out of obligation, what if every one I wrote was written with the true intention of not just “saying” thanks but also feeling the love, appreciation and gratitude of the person, experience or thing? And, of course, this goes for both the good and bad things.
And to take it a step further, I am posting the list below of who I am saying thank you to. I will spare you the why of each.
As I made my list I realized that some on the list are deceased, some I have no idea how to find (even in the internet age) and some that if I sent a thank you note to for “bad experience X” or “lesson learned Y” it would be, frankly, a little weird and could have unintended and unwanted consequences in my current life. Regardless, I have resolved to actually write the note and feel the feeling; I may just have to address those ones to the North Pole.
And, Mom, you will be the first on the list for teaching me about thank you notes.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. ― Rumi