by David Ward
Thank you, yes, thank you for deciding to read yet another month of The Tiny Little Happiness Corner.
Depending on your mother tongue language your expression for something received may involve one or more words. In English it is two words or ‘thank you’, while in German it is one i.e., ‘danke’. Since thank you is derived from danke evidently the English version needed to be more directional and therefore directed towards someone for something. Thinking about it, if we chop-off the ‘e’ in Danke it does sound like ‘thanks’ with the ‘s’ removed.
Even in its simplest form, ‘thanks’, still portrays a willingness to acknowledge the receipt of something e.g., a favour, an act of kindness, a sign of compassion etc. Thanking someone has always been a sign of courtesy and consideration, unless of course it is used sarcastically and said with a tone of ‘about time too’. But before you ask, this latter type of response or attitude is obviously not about happiness but it is worth mentioning it just to keep us aware how easy is to stumble and become unhappy for it. Equally we should be aware that there are thank yous that can appear shallow, almost an obligation, and if you exaggerate with too many thank yous you actually convey the opposite meaning. Your ‘thank you’ has to be justified, heartfelt and used frugally. So, when we do use it, state also the reason when you are thanking someone. Similarly, you can answer back with a thank you, such as, ‘thank you for thinking about me’. Besides this annotation I have always had fond feelings when either saying or receiving a thank you. It makes me feel better and hopefully the recipient of my ‘thank yous’ as well.
Another word that comes to mind of similar proportions and effects is gratitude. Almost as if thanks and gratitude are close friends, interchangeable and considered equivalent in terms of scope, purpose and of course the relevant effects on people. I suppose the connection is that they both express appreciation for something or someone. Interestingly the word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness, depending on the context. Gratitude, to a certain extent, incorporates all of these meanings.
So, linguistically, we have‘ thanks’ from a fairly northern part of the world while ‘gratia’ is from the south.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives, a sign of appreciation just like thank you. So, while thanks expresses gratitude towards others (for something or someone), the word gratitude conveys a sense of loveliness, and we know that when people feel appreciated and loved they are usually also happy, at least momentarily. With this thought in mind, this month I decided to speak about how saying thank you and expressing gratitude are key factors in being happy or happier. This wasn’t an immediate conclusion by the way as it has took me a while to get here! To be honest it has took me the best part of my life to conclude that I needed to say thank you as often as possible (but parsimoniously) and not just to selected people.
Another confession from me is that this awakening was not due to sort of Eureka moment rather a natural progression of getting wiser and sensitive. Incidentally, time is a wonderful stimulant to get things done and introduce change i.e., as time starts to run-out you feel the urge to transform and conclude things for the benefit of others, well at least I did. I confess, with some delay, I learnt that ‘It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude.
It’s gratitude that brings us happiness’. Evidently, I’m a slow learner.
Besides, even after I had received in 2019 a book for Christmas from a close friend about gratitude (for the chronicle, it was titled The Secret by Rhonda Bryne) where you go on a 28-day journey to learn to say thank you three times a day for whatever and for all circumstances, I was still (and still am) learning. Apparently, this technique works magic providing it is not a ritual rather it needs to become a habit, like bowing to someone in Japan.
So, what has been my taking from all this preamble? Well, I have learnt to say my ‘thank you’ in two very specific moments of the day and these are dedicated to God and everyone else that I care to include in this one sentence. Yes, you guessed it when I open my eyes in the morning and when I close them just before going to sleep, I state, wholeheartedly, ‘thank you’.
Expressing gratitude and saying thank you like this is an incredible multiplier of happiness. It starts the day off well and concludes it even better.
So, I invite you to do the same but on one condition, it has to be authentic, heart felt or if you prefer, towards someone for something with sincere love. I can guarantee that you will witness a shift! You will feel that as you express gratitude you will send but also receive unparalleled feeling of wholeness and contentment. Both are very meaningful and mimic exactly the theme for the month of May.
So, on a closing note, this month has several opportunities for us to gear-up to our ‘thank you’ routine. Moreover, it is perpetual and doesn’t end on the 31st May but continues for as long as we desire, remember happiness is a wise investment. Have a happy May and thanks for reading as far as here.