With Thanksgiving a mere three days away, I realized that in the hubbub my life has been these past few months (2 funerals and a wedding) that I had neglected to encourage Ehellions at the start of November to write unexpected thank-you notes to someone.
The idea is simple….write a short thank-you note to someone for something that is not normally expected. We all know that TY notes after receiving gifts for birthdays, weddings and babies are a basic courtesy everyone should do and people often expect to receive. But what about the unexpected thank-you note recognizing people for everyday things or the mundane? In the December 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest there is a short article written by John Kralik entitled, “Two Simple Words – How the power of thank you changed my life”. Mr. Kralik tells his own story of personal hard times that depressed him into self absorption until one day he had an epiphany and resolved that every day he would “find one person to whom I could write a thank-you note.” Some of the examples of thank-you notes he wrote were to his sons, his apartment manager and the woman who had fostered his cat before being adopted by him.
Mr. Kralik admits to a realization of how many people he had neglected to appreciate over the years. In writing his simple and short thank-you notes, he cultivated an attitude of gratitude that was manifested in thank-you note writing that edified their recipients but changed Mr. Kralik to be a happier, better person. Thank-you notes are a win-win for everyone.
I have previously written of my own first, unexpected thank-you note. It was in the mid to late 1980′s after I had graduated from college. In my first two years of school at a local community college, I had enrolled in a Music 101 Introduction to Music class simply to satisfy matriculation requirements. Within the first few weeks, the original professor was found murdered in a hotel room in NYC and Dr. Frank Scimonelli stepped in to take over my class. Through the semester he introduced us to the timeline of music, from Gregorian chants to modern jazz. I discovered Baroque music which I liked better than Classical and that opera really wasn’t all that bad (my running joke with Dr. Scimonelli was that Die Fledermaus was really Deflated Mouse). It was almost impossible to not get caught up in the love affair Dr. Scimonelli had for music.
Years after taking the class and with the perspective of those college years behind me, I wrote Dr. Scimonelli a short note telling him how his class stood out from all my other college courses for the lasting change and impact it had on me. Even more than 30 years later, I still retain more of that class content than any other I can remember taking and the effect was that I continued to build upon that to this day. I told him how my music collection had gone from Pop 40 to a more broader collection that included Baroque, Bach, and several Luciano Pavarotti albums and how I discovered an appreciation for ballet from the music of Tchaikovsky. (It didn’t hurt that Mikhail Baryshnikov was THE hottest male ballet dancer at the time.) I’ll never be a musician or even a great fan of any one particular type of music but Dr. Scimonelli did open a new world view for me that I have not forgotten.
He sent me a note in reply and the impression I got from his words was that not many of his former students had ever thanked him for the lesson he taught. He was effusive in his gratitude for my note to him and I learned the first of many valuable lessons regarding thank-you notes, i.e. that each one can be a wonderful little gift to someone else that has the delightful consequence of making its sender feel good, too.
So, readers, take up pen and paper today and write a short note to someone who isn’t expecting to receive a thank-you note from you or anyone else. Thank that co-worker for helping you finish a project, thank the trashmen for neatly putting your trash cans back on the curb each week, thank your neighbor for his beautiful manicured yard that pleases his neighbors, thank the doorman at your apartment, and on and on. The list is endless.
And then comment to this thread about who you thanked but because we want the ideas of who to thank to take center stage, either obscure your usual ID or we’ll edit it for you. Who have you thanked lately?