I look for the good in people and circumstances. I am genuinely thankful – for friends, my biological family and my church family. Is everyone helpful to me ALL the time? of course not. I’m sure I am not always helpful to them either! But by and large, they have my back. And when I look back over my life, I see a lot of things that people did for me that were helpful to me. Often I didn’t know at the time that their kind words, advice, or actions would impact me later in my life.
Two years ago I participated in a personal thankfulness project. It was not a stretch for me – I routinely write thank you notes to people for all kinds of things. But this project changed my life. It started out as a way to thank some teachers, some old friends, some new friends, acquaintances and even a bailiff at the domestic court, for their help during some very difficult times.
The bailiff is a good example. On what until that time was the worst day of my life, he did more than was required to help me navigate the mysteries of the county courthouse. I didn’t even think to ask his name, I was so frazzled at the time. I went back to the courthouse eight years later and found him. I shook his hand and thanked him for his help. At that time he didn’t remember me. I suspect he is kind a lot, and I was just another case coming across his desk. But he remembers me now: Last time I was at the courthouse, he said, “I know you – you’re the thank you lady.” Apparently no one thinks to say thanks. Thankfulness matters.
I ran into a classmate at a my 40th high school reunion. This classmate, who I didn’t know well, had done something very kind for me when I was in high school. I never forgot it – it was not something big, just kind at a time when I needed someone to be kind. When I said ‘thank you,’ at the reunion, it was the beginning of a friendship; a friendship that would not otherwise have developed.
And it’s not just ‘thank you.’ All of our words, AND our actions matter. Somewhere across your path today, someone is having a bad day, going through struggles you may not recognize – do the kind thing. Say a kind word, be nice, it matters so much more than you realize. And if you think of someone who shared some kindness with you, thank them. No matter how much time has passed, thank them.