I don’t say Thank You as often as I should – and I doubt I’m the only one. In fact, after starting my Yoga Teacher Training this week, I’m starting to believe that Thank You is the most under-appreciated and most selectively used phrase in the books.
Think about it. How likely are you to say, “Thank You” when
- you receive a compliment?
- someone holds the door for you?
- you catch the bus right before it’s ready to pull away?
- you get feedback?
- your partner does something nice for you?
- you’re running late?
- the proverbial shit hits the fan?
See a trend?
It’s easier to relate to our life as a Thank You when it’s the good stuff like someone holding the door for us; but the minute that proverbial life door is shut – the moment we receive feedback we don’t like, get a compliment we don’t think we deserve, or we experience a setback – Thank You is the furthest things from our minds.
I get it. And trust me when I say Thank You was the furthest thing from my mind last week. After I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training, I realized how many Saturday’s in NYC I’d miss and I had some serious FOMO. In trying to create a Halloween themed playlist for my LifeBarre class, what should have been a 1-hour project quickly turned into a 10-hour problem with calls to tech support to resolve the issue. Then, to top it off, my director offered me feedback on one of my classes and inwardly I got defensive and felt like I wasn’t good enough.
I was still reeling from my week of overwhelm when I made my way to the mat Saturday morning. Then, following class, something miraculous happened. Alex, who had taught the yoga class and who was running our YTT, began a group discussion by stating two things he felt went well during class and two opportunities for growth – and then he turned the discussion over to our group. With every praise and opportunity for growth offered, he simply sat in silence, every once in a while bowing his head and saying, “Thank You.” Once we had all taken turns offering praise and opportunities for growth, Alex talked about the process of giving and receiving feedback and how the words, Thank You, provide us an amazing opportunity for growth. When we are getting feedback, it’s easy to get defensive. But when we get silent, we can emphatically listen and gain a new perspective and our Thank You serves to diffuse our reactive mindset.
While this was a simple example of how the words Thank You can transform the process of giving and receiving feedback, for me it stood as a metaphor for life. There’s always feedback in our lives – there will always be compliments and criticism; new opportunities and loss of what was; potential and setbacks. Life is feedback and no matter ‘what’ the feedback is, we can either react and get defensive, or we can just say, “Thank You” and it’s when we say “Thank You” that everything is transformed.
Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “Everything within our life structure has the potential to transform us when we know how to properly relate to it” and when we relate to our life as a Thank You, we engage with life so consciously that every person, every situation, contributes to our growth. Life’s feedback becomes something that doesn’t hold us back but propels us forward.
This week, practice saying, “Thank You” in unexpected places and watch your life unfold in extraordinary ways.
Say “Thank You” when
- you get a compliment. We often ruin compliments by devaluing the statement and the person giving it.
- you’re running late. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry” and making it all about you, say, “Thank You” and acknowledge the sacrifice the other person made by waiting.
- you’re receiving feedback. Feedback is one of the greatest portals for our growth and we miss the opportunity if we’re reactive and defensive.
- you have a negative thought. Rather than chastise yourself for having a negative thought, say “Thank You” and celebrate your awareness in noticing the thought. Awareness and gratitude for that awareness is the first step.
- something unexpected happens. You never know how hitting every red light spared you the accident or how the injury that’s preventing you from working out is exactly the break your body needs. Instead of searching for the lesson, be with what is and be there with a “Thank You”.