[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”18″ align=”left”]Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” – Margaret Cousins[/mk_blockquote]

“Thank you.” These two words may just be the most powerful words in the world. They profoundly impact both the person being thanked and the person doing the thanking. They bind people into a web of respect, appreciation and gratitude. They can wash away exhaustion. They can transform crankiness into a smile. They can inspire us to do things we never imagined it was possible to do.

Our annual high school musical was this weekend. There were five shows – three sold out. For the last several years, I have organized the ushers for the show. In the scope of the amazing things the kids and other parents do to put on these professional level shows, mine is a small- to medium-sized job. I gather volunteers, build a schedule and teach my team how to efficiently get hundreds of excited guests to their seats. Most importantly, we make sure that everyone is welcomed with a smile. Even when a seat has accidentally been sold twice or when someone has mistakenly arrived at the show with a ticket for the night before, we cheerfully solve the problem. I tell the team of ushers that our highest intention is that everyone who has made the effort to be there sees the show.

Just before the ushers arrived for show number three, I was leaning against the door thinking. There had been more issues than usual at the previous two shows, and I was mentally running through logistics trying to troubleshoot this show before we welcomed our first guests. When the director of the show stepped through the doors, I took a deep breath, anticipating another complication to navigate. Instead, he said he wanted to thank me for all I’d done. He said that putting on a musical took a village, and he wanted me and my team to know that the show would not be the success it was without our efforts. As he smiled and left the auditorium, he left me changed. I no longer felt harried and worried. Rather, I was reinvigorated and raring to go.

By taking three seconds to express his appreciation, the director affirmed the value of my hard work. He made it clear that my efforts were noticed. He made me feel like an important part of the team. Those three seconds made a big impact.

As a child, my mom insisted that we write thank you notes for every gift we received. I’ve held onto this habit as an adult in part because saying thank you feels like the right thing to do. I like to think my words of thanks (even if just via email or text) will add a little smile to my friend’s day. But I also take a moment to write a thank you note because it gives me the chance to savor the appreciation I feel for the person who has given me something special – whether a gift or a favor or some much needed help. Expressing my thanks leaves me awash in gratitude and warm feelings all over again for the generosity and love that I have received.

When I teach yoga, I often open or close class with a moment of gratitude. I suggest that my students take a moment to thank themselves for the gift they are giving themselves of the time and space to take care of themselves. I suggest they spend a moment feeling gratitude for the practice and for all the teachers who have passed it down to us. And I suggest that they take a moment to feel grateful for their fellow students, who have come to share energy and movement and breath that morning. In these quiet moments, I can feel the energy of the room shift and change.

Genuine gratitude is tangible. It changes us to feel it. And it changes the world around us when we take the time to express it.

Thank you for the opportunity to share.