There have been many times in my life where I have been blessed by an act of kindness, compassion or extreme thoughtfulness. Whether it is a meaningful gift, word or act we receive, sometimes saying “thank you” just does not seem to cut it.
Think of yourself and how many times perhaps you were so overcome with emotion towards a person or people, who went out of their way to tell you how much you mean to them.
Think of all those times where you received some gift that showed you that someone out there listens to you and cares for you deeply.
Think of the times where someone said something to you, which was said at the perfect moment you needed it and made all the difference in your life.
How do you say thank you? How do you show your gratitude for these gifts, words or moments that have meant more to you than perhaps anyone will ever know?
Thus in this article, we will examine just that – what to do when words like “thank you” are not enough.
A Group of Amazing Young Souls
As I am in the stages of saying a lot of goodbyes at my job, I have been overwhelmed in the past couple of weeks with an immense amount of kind words and even gifts. For those of you who are not familiar with my journey, I have been working at the same high school for the past 7 years and in 1 week will be walking away from this position permanently to pursue my dreams and passions of writing and public speaking.
During these past 7 years, I have had the privilege of working with over 1000 students. Most people know, that as a teacher especially in high school, many of us never know what impact we are making on the students, unless perhaps at some point down the road, we run into one of them somewhere and then find out that perhaps the job or path they chose was because of something we said or did. Or how a certain word or concept resonated with them and perhaps changed their life in some way. Most teens are simply not about feedback, at least not in the present moment.
So when during my career, a student would come up to me and tell me how I was changing or had changed their life – it was beyond humbling. To know right then and there that what you were doing was making a difference to someone was huge!
Well I have to tell you, I feel that I have been more than blessed with teaching the most amazing students any teacher could ever ask for. Year after year and semester after semester, I would meet a new group of students that I have no doubt touched my life perhaps just as much as I was able to touch theirs.
There were the “aha” moments, there were joyful and fun moments, there were the laugh-out-loud moments, as well as the tougher life lesson moments. All of these I keep in my heart, and I have come to know that many of them do as well.
So although my work with all these young souls, and I only call them young from a physical perspective for spiritually many of them are old and wise souls, has come to an end – I will always treasure what I learned from them and what I was able to teach them.
The climax to all this came in the past 2 weeks, as many students from all 3 of the classes that I currently taught, shared with me at one point or another how I impacted or changed their life. The stories were tearjerkers to say the least, and by some miracle I held myself together without any tears. There was also a year-end assembly for the whole school, where one student spoke about me and my impact on the school and students I have taught. There were a few individual and group gifts, all of which were more meaningful than I could have ever expected. There were smiles, words and hugs and so many thank yous and good byes. Just writing about this now, makes my eyes water for the emotion that was invoked within me.
And now comes the question – how do you say thank you enough? No amount of thank yous seemed to be enough for me to express to them. These young souls that often get so short-changed in our society, that often get poor reputations for how they are or how they are not, came forth and showed more love, kindness and compassion than perhaps some adults are capable of.
I took in every word, every action and knew that no words in the world could ever describe to them how I felt, or what their words and actions have meant to me.
Amazing Individuals In The World Wide Web
A similar example as the one above, has been with me pretty much since I started blogging. Every so often I get a comment, email or some other feedback with some amazingly kind, beautiful or thoughtful words of how meaningful something I wrote was, or how it perhaps even changed someone’s life. Over the last year, people who I have never met in my life have gone out of their way at one point or another to tell me how something I said, that perhaps was small and natural to me, but which was big and meaningful to them, impacted their life. Many of these comments left me truly speechless.
So many times I have said thank you to express my gratitude and so many times, it just did not seem like enough. Did the people who sent these comments my way know just how much they meant to me? Did they realize what an amazing act of kindness or gesture of love they have passed onto me? I wasn’t sure to tell you the truth, but deep within I hoped that they did.
You know there are still so many people in this world, who think that the world is negative and all the people are rotten in one way or another, but I just don’t see that. What I see and what makes up MY world is an amazing abundance of the kindest souls, who are thoughtful and loving not because they want something in return, but simply because they are.
Many of you who are reading this have been many of those souls that have touched my life deeply and although I have said thank you many times before, and will continue to in the future, those two words will never capture what I truly feel.
Sometimes people say or think that there is only so many nice things that one can say or do, or so many thank you’s that are meaningful. But I heave learned enough to beg to differ. So what if you keep impacting someone’s life and they keep being grateful or vice-versa. Kindness and love never go out of style, and personally I think these are to our souls, as oxygen is to our lungs. So may you never take the gratitude others offer you or beautiful acts or words you offer them for granted. I know I won’t.
Beyond Thank You’s
As many of you, I too have come through many of these moments, in the past few years especially, and although I said the thank you’s and although I tried to make sure the person knew how much it meant to me, I learned one other thing along the way. And that is that we have to learn to allow.
When someone is kind to you or flatters you in some way, some of us really don’t know how to accept it. And worse yet, some of us really get uncomfortable being that center of attention. While some people think that this is the humble thing to do, I have realized that we may actually be doing more harm than good acting that way.
Here is what I mean: Imagine someone takes you out to dinner and surprises you at the end by wanting to pay for you as a thank you gesture of some kind. Some of us will kindly accept and say thank you, but others will bicker back and forth that no that is not necessary, etc. But do you realize that when that person offers a gesture of kindness they are not only doing it for you, they are also doing it for themselves?
That is right. When we negate someone’s good words or actions towards us we can actually be ruining the experience for them. As souls we all want to express ourselves as who we truly are. So for me to know I am kind, I have to do an act of kindness. For me to know myself as loving, I have to do a loving act. For it is one thing to go around saying “I am kind”, but quite another to know it experientially.
And when some of us think that it is the humble thing to do to say things like, “oh you shouldn’t have” and “no, that is not necessary” or “I cannot accept this or that”, we might actually be making the situation all about us. It is funny but if we are not careful, we can actually end up robbing them from their experience. When people thank us in some way – it actually is not just about us. It is about them being blessed to have the opportunity and to be able to express who they are too.
So what have I learned from all this that I want to share and pass along to you? That when someone acknowledges you, for whatever reason in some kind way, say your thank you’s, be grateful and humble, but also be conscious and allow them to have their experience.
While being humble is one thing, be careful not to turn a beautiful experience into a negated action. And so with consciousness allow – allow the other to express who they are and what they stand for, as that might be the best and most meaningful thank you, you could ever give them!
Now think of yourself. Is there anyone you want to thank deeply that at some point in your life made a huge difference to you? Who did you not know perhaps how to thank enough for what they did to you or for you? How did you handle the situation? Did you allow them to have their experience too?