Thank you for reading my blog.
We Canadians are famous for our politeness. We throw around “Excuse me”, “I’m sorry”, “Please”and “Thank you” with abandon. It’s like it’s second nature for us. Maybe that is because it is second nature for us. We could be known for worse things! However, our common use of these polite phrases can make us take them for granted.
At a recent seminar entitled “Knocking Down Silos”, www.realhumanbeing.org the speaker, Dave Howlett, guides us to become “Real Human Beings” (RHB). Among the several insights he offers on the road to becoming an RHB is this challenge. Over a period of five weeks, send out two thank you cards each week. That means you have to actually buy 10 thank you cards. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive. It means you have to buy 10 stamps (remember those?). You have to actually write something in the card and mail it. The key is to make them sincere and specific. Send them to people who have made a difference in your life. This seemed like a simple task and I was eager to tackle it. There are many people in my life that made a difference and when I really thought about it, I had neglected to let them know that. The results were astounding!
As I wrote my first couple of cards I found myself pouring out feelings of gratitude I had never put into words. I scribbled out mistakes and created words (no spell check here) and made a decision to mail them as I wrote them, errors and all. I can’t tell you the sense of fulfillment that came over me as I dutifully mailed these cards. If the results stopped there, it would have been enough. That’s not what happened. I received an overwhelming response. Every card I mailed was gratefully acknowledged, read and re-read, and cherished by its recipient. My 87-year-old father received the second card I wrote. Now, my father knows I love him and I know he loves me. We tell each other every time we talk. This veteran of wars, marriages, and life phoned me in tears, overwhelmed by this card. He talks about it constantly and shows it to everyone who will let him (he’s really not one you can say “no” to). He has insisted on displaying it at his wake (hopefully not too soon).
How can such a simple gesture mean so much to people? My theory is that you have acknowledged their contribution to you, and too many people go unacknowledged for anything. Needless to say, I have long ago seen the end of my original obligatory 10 cards. I continue to send out “thank you” cards on a regular basis. It’s a simple thing but I am always rewarded with a smile, a hug or just a “thank you”.