The Ripple Effects of Gratitude —by Jinny Batterson
Lately I’ve been more aware than usual of how much I enjoy being on the receiving end of a “thank you.” Having been raised partly by an old-fashioned Southern grandmother, I got childhood exposure to the notion that you should do stealthy good deeds for which thanks were a surprise you could then disarmingly dismiss.
“Oh, it was nothing,” you could say with a shy smile, inwardly puffed up but too “refined” to openly accept the thanks offered.
Most of my current friends and acquaintances are wise to this blushing maiden/aw-shucks approach, so I’ve gradually gotten better at replying with a simple “you’re welcome.”
Perhaps it’s the somewhat brusque and derogatory tone of much of our public discourse these days, or the proliferation of mechanistic responses (the “press 1” phenomenon is often just the tip of the iceberg). Perhaps it’s a feature of aging. Whatever, I really thrill to a simple “thank you” after I’ve attempted to do something nice for someone.
I’ve also tried to get better at thanking others who do nice things for me, from the shop clerk who spends a little extra time explaining the features of the new gadget I’m not very good at using, to the husband who takes out the trash without being asked, to the bus driver who lets me know the closest stop to my downtown Raleigh appointment. The most recent time I rode the bus, I noticed that passengers who got off before me often thanked the driver, so I did, too. It felt nearly as good as being on the receiving end of gratitude.
Where I’ve noticed others’ gratitude the most is at a mostly African-American church I’ve attended intermittently for the past several years, trying to be inoffensive as a paler pew-sitter than the other church goers. One of the older men often starts the service with a litany of all the ways the Lord has blessed him, starting with awakening him that morning. Usually I’m not part of the “thank you, Jesus” crowd, but I know this guy’s material circumstances and medical conditions are likely a lot more difficult than mine. If he can start his day with a “thank you,” then maybe I can, too.