God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you? — William Arthur Ward As the above indication goes, our focus today is on the magical phrase ‘thank you’.
It is not without reason that I say ‘magical’. A well-meaning, sincere thank you helps build relationships and forge bonds. Its importance in our lives cannot be underscored enough.
But sadly and alarmingly, like Cinderella’s magical clothes, it is fast disappearing! In cultures all around the world, saying thank you is as imperative as breathing.
And our culture is no different with its stress on good manners and polite behaviour. Our parents and teachers taught us the importance of showing gratitude and saying ‘thank you’ when a favour was done to us, and most importantly, of returning the favour at an appropriate time.
But alas, all these teachings seem to be part of some bygone era. In today’s culture, the way to go is to see how much one can get out of others while giving back as little as possible. Worse, sometimes we even err in saying the basic ‘thank you’.
And when, and if we do, we are often taken aback by the mixed response it evokes. Here, I must share my daughter’s most ‘amazing experience’ of her life, to elucidate my point of how politeness shocks and amuses us!
Returning home from her friend’s place, she alighted from the rickshaw and absent-mindedly said “thank you bhaiya” to the rickshawallah. Imagine her shock when in perfect English, he replied, “You are welcome, madam!” Hugely impressed, she asked him where he learnt his English and his manners.
Not unused to the response, he said he’d studied till class XII and was plying the rickshaw to pay for his tuition. The point is that nothing and no one is small enough to say ‘thank you’ or show one’s appreciation.
And it is to the credit of the young rickshawallah that despite his straitened circumstances, he remembered his lessons in school well. It is good to remember and appreciate the things people have done for us.
Our manners should be an integral part of our personality. No amount of pestering by peers to drop that formality of ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ while with them, should hold us back.
It should be a part of us that cannot be altered. According to Oprah magazine (November 2000), “Gratitude has a cleansing effect on the soul…the very act of saying a sincere thank you hones our personality, making us humbler, gentler, more loving people.”