The Power of a Second Thank You

A Note from Ayr Founder, Kirsten Thomas

I remember the impact that a book had on me when I was a teenager. I was staying for Thanksgiving with my Great Aunt, the woman who had raised my Dad. That side of my family was Danish, and valued education and reading above all else, so the house was packed with bookshelves. I was always sneaking off to find a book and curl up and read. One book sounded a bit strange to me, and I was curious. I wish that I could find out who had written that book, and what its exact name was. It was in a Reader’s Digest book with three other books sharing its cover, and it was all about a very strange concept to me: A second thank you.

I googled “second thank you” in an attempt to find the book but had no luck. The book was a very old edition of Reader’s Digest, and the author was very old at the time, so my guess was that it was written in the early 20th century.

But I was curious. Were contemporary writers discussing the topic? I was eager to find speakers or writers’ interpretations of a second thank you, so I was pleased to see people still talking about the idea.

What does “a second thank you” mean for us, today? Here’s the gist:

Saying thank you is one of the most powerful things that you can do. When you accept something from an individual, whether it is a gift, a service, or a compliment, you are receiving something which has been thought out for you with the intention of bringing you happiness.

Let’s say you receive a gift your friend has chosen for you. They have picked it out especially thinking it might bring you joy. If you are polite, you will thank them! For most people, this ends the exchange. Older generations, however, will follow up with a brief thank you note or card. I always appreciate those. I have one or two friends who still do this, and I find them both to be gracious and thoughtful. It’s a lovely habit, instilled no doubt by their mothers or grandmothers, and old-fashioned but beautiful in its grace.

What differentiates this card thank you from “the second thank you” mentioned in my mysterious Reader’s Digest book? The thank you mentioned has to do with something that a person has done which has changed your life. Here’s an example:

When I was in high school, I took my driving lessons from Coach Fernandez. He was the wrestling coach and taught PE for the boys at our high school, but to me, he was just my driving instructor for Driver’s Ed. From what I remember, there wasn’t anything particular about him that stood out, but he was a very patient and good teacher for driver’s training, and I liked him. It was one thing, however, that he said while I was driving that struck me as significant.

We were in the section of Driver’s Ed where students had to enter, drive, and exit the freeway. This was a very frightening thing to me, as even back in the day there were at least five lanes of traffic, people entering and exiting and changing lanes in what seemed like a wild and frightening show of driving. I entered the freeway, took my place in the first lane and prepared to “hunker down”.

Mr. Fernandez said to me, “Always strive to maintain the best position”. He further explained that the importance of watching the cars around me, anticipating their movements and being mindful of their signals. By keeping my eyes wide, I’d then be able to merge into a better “position” on the freeway. Our lessons ended, and I graduated and went on with my life.

Years later, I realized that this one phrase “always strive to maintain the best position” had become one of my mantras that I used throughout my professional career, having nothing to do with driving. I often wish I had found Mr. Fernandez and written him a note to just thank him for being a great teacher and also for giving me wise words to live by, whether he was aware of that fact or not.

Examples in your own life might include a neighbor who showed up with food when you were sick, whom you thanked at the time, but later reflected on how rare a neighbor like that is. Or maybe you have a person who took a chance on you when you were just starting out, who wrote you a great letter of recommendation and set you on your course in the job world. Perhaps you have a dance teacher, like I did, who really believed in you, and told you never to quit what you were doing. Maybe you had a parent that allowed you to move home many times and was supportive without question… or maybe it was a friend’s couch where you crashed when they wouldn’t let you drive home after drinking… and the list can go on! There are so many ways that we as people look out for each other.

The second thank you is more than just saying “thanks” for gifts or actions; it is a way of reflecting back the goodness that exists in the world. We’re reminded that we are all in this life together, and that by helping each other, and seeing the potential and good in each other, that we can truly be better people.

The law of attraction states that when you put out a certain type of energy into the world that you are attracting back a similar type of energy. I truly believe this. When you live your life in a state of gratitude, you are putting positive energy around the way you have accepted your good, and by thanking once, and then thanking again, you are multiplying the blessings that you have received with positive energy.

This Thanksgiving, I hope that each of you that read my ramblings will think back on others who have helped you, believed in you, or just done something incredible in your life. It may have not even been something that they were aware of, but perhaps it is worth you thanking them again. Consider a handwritten thank you. It is better than a text, as it shows that you took a moment more than you needed to, and that they were special to you.

Let’s try to keep the art of writing thank you notes alive. If you cannot write a letter, then thank them in person. I guarantee that the same energy that you put forward to thank that special person will be given to them as a gift that they will, in turn, be filled with and want to bring out into the world. And that’s what we need for ourselves and always for the world too… gratitude and love.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and remember, it’s about more than turkey!

Bye for now,

Kirsten, xx

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