This weekend got me wondering: why don’t we say thanks more often?
Saying “thank you” is one of the first things parents teach their children. We learn to say thanks around the same time that we figure out that Play-Doh isn’t food. So why do so many of us struggle with gratitude in our daily lives?
Part of the reason is that we’re just too busy. There are tasks to complete, email to respond to, kids to pick up from sports practice, phone calls to place, and meals to prepare—not to mention blogs to read and write. It often seems that all our smart-device technology just makes us more productive so we can fill our lives with more activities. Stopping to show appreciation doesn’t get stuff off the list.
Sometimes we mistakenly think that gratitude can make us appear weak. We may have experienced the cloying hanger-on, who refuses to get the message and let go. Those people seem to exclaim, “Thank you, sir, may I have another!” every time they’re hit on the backside. But that’s not gratitude, that’s insecurity. People who genuinely express their appreciation towards others actually come across as confident and self-assured.
Of course, some people really don’t feel all that thankful. They think that, for the most part, they’ve achieved what they have by virtue of their own hard work and intelligence. But no one is an island. Whether it’s the technology we use or the families that support us, we’re all building on someone else’s work. Even our setbacks can turn into blessings. It’s well documented that we learn lots more from our failures than we do from our successes. And the process of overcoming obstacles makes us more creative and resourceful. This is why “team-building exercises” usually involve some sort of group problem solving.
It turns out that giving thanks makes us look successful, enhances our self-image, encourages us to be more patient, and causes us to focus on others, not just ourselves. It may take precious time out of our over-stuffed schedules, but stopping to say thanks really is good for our health, good for our business, and good for our relationships. Our minds are for thinking—our hearts for thanking.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer