A Simple Act of Kindness: Saying Thank You


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  70 comments   :  22,680 Views

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.” ~ Ralph Martson

I have been so busy the past few months with work, traveling and taking part in home remodeling projects that the only real books I have found myself reading were on the topic of running or health and fitness. Don't get me wrong, I love reading all that I can on these topics, but when my girlfriends asked if I had read Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, I had to admit I had not. Eager for me to see the movie with them, my homework assignment was to get the book read before we went to see the movie that came out a few short days ago.

Last week I finally picked up my copy and let me tell you, it is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. From the very onset I felt such a deep connection with each of the characters. Maybe because having spent the majority of my life living in the south, I could relate to many, but not all, the scenarios in the book.

If you are not familiar with the premise of the story, it is basically about a young journalist in Mississippi in the early 1960's who elicits the help of the black women who work for the white families in the Jackson area to guide her in writing a book about their lives and the trials they faced working for these families.

As I was reading this book, there was a meaningful message about half way through that truly touched my heart. It was when Skeeter, the journalist, was interviewing, Callie, a helper who cared for a white family who always made her feel less than adequate. She never felt appreciated during her tenure, however that all changed when the matriarch of the family passed away.

As Callie recounts the story to Skeeter, when Miss Margaret passed away, she was given a note by Miss Margaret's husband thanking her for taking care of her baby with colic years earlier. This scenario had happened many years before her passing, but she wanted Callie to know that she never forgot. There is a line that Ms. Stockett wrote following this exchange that truly pulled at my heart and it reads, "saying thank you, when you really mean it when you remember what someone done for you---it's so good."
In less than 4 weeks I will officially hit what I consider middle age--the big 5-0, or as I see things, it is the threshold of the best in life yet to come. But one thing I have noticed is the older I get, there seems to be such a lack of appreciation in today's society. It's as if we are owed something without having to work to achieve our goals. We no longer appreciate the help and sacrifice someone else makes or does for us in the name of respect.

Saying thank you
is such a simple act of kindness in acknowledging respect to the person who is helping you. When someone takes the time to utter these words, which can be found in every language across the globe, it literally can change one's whole perspective on others. Thank Yous are about learning to put someone's needs ahead of your own. It's about teaching your children to show graciousness and compassion. But most importantly saying or even writing these words show that you appreciate them as they are without any strings attached.

And if that doesn't spur you enough to embrace a life of gratitude, studies have actually shown that those individuals who express gratitude toward others are happier, healthier and are able to accept life's ups and downs that are inevitable in this journey.

So for all who have offered words of support and encouragement to me in the past, I would like to say THANK YOU! I truly appreciate each and every one of you. You all allow me to live a life that is filled with love and many blessing.

Have you read The Help? If so, were you touched by the words Callie uttered? Do you feel that expressing gratitude is what makes us a better person?

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  • 70
    All too often I have seen service folks treated with disrespect. A bit of kindness along with gratitude goes a long way. They feel better and so do I.
    I thought "The Help" was a wonderful movie.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. - 8/30/2011   11:49:13 AM
    Thank you, Nancy for this timely subject! Indeed, our world needs more courtesy, and "magic words"... I taught my children that when they received gifts, a prompt thank you note was required. Boys did not love this "task" but if someone was "nice enough to give you a gift, you must thank them".. This lesson was taught by my mom, and the lesson is sooo important! Expressing gratitude can itself be a gift. Can't wait to see the movie, "The Help"... my dear mom was a maid for many years. What an angel she was... and such a grateful soul! - 8/26/2011   2:11:34 PM
  • 68
    My whole family makes good use of those two words all the time.
    And now I say "Thank You" to Nancy.

    PS And I thank you for recommending the book as I don't usually read one unless someone has suggested it as a good one. - 8/22/2011   10:55:30 PM
    You are sooo right! - 8/20/2011   6:53:31 PM
  • 66
    Thank you for your blog! I have not read 'The Help', but I will now. - 8/20/2011   12:13:54 PM
  • 65
    I have a little song I play for my kids sometimes - "Be Nice Today." The words are simple - "Be nice, be nice today. Say please and thank you. Be nice, be nice today and don't forget to smile." I love it. - 8/20/2011   9:11:51 AM
  • 64
    words to live by - 8/19/2011   9:09:01 AM
    Loved the book-looking forward to seeing the movie! And saying Thank You, especially in writing, is special, though I fear, a lost art. Thanks for a great reminder! - 8/19/2011   6:55:25 AM
    A dear friend of mine is unfortunately not a very thankful person. I experienced this once again at my home the other day and it really hurt my feelings the way she spoke to me about something that I made which she did not care for and about my feelings. I think that being polite is a gift. My parents had their problems but they knew about the value of being polite. We always knew about saying thank you and please and writing thank you notes and making an effort to let people know that their efforts were meaningful. Even if we did not care for the particular food that they made, we knew how to be gracious. I know my nieces and nephews know how to be polite if they find themselves in the same situation as well. This gift has been passed onto our next generation. In turn, I have also learned the simple pleasures of being grateful for the big and little things in my life as I have recovered from some serious problems in my life. I consider gratitude to be an awesome way of living which I would not trade in for the life of me. - 8/19/2011   6:47:42 AM
  • 61
    Such a small thing that has such a huge impact on life. Thank you for your skills that help us all become healthy, happy beings, Nancy. (Hope you can see my honest smile looking directly at you.) - 8/19/2011   4:18:06 AM
  • BANRP28
    Thank you for sharing this.It is very true.. - 8/19/2011   1:56:13 AM
  • 59
    Gratitude is one of many topics covered in "One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity"
    by Debbie Macomber. It is an AMAZING book and I highly recommend it! :)
    - 8/18/2011   11:19:44 AM
    Thank YOU! x - 8/18/2011   10:45:25 AM
  • 57
    I just finished the book and seeing the movie Friday. I was touched by Callie's remark and when Minny was told by Celia's husband that she could stay there forever. - 8/18/2011   8:25:47 AM
    I totally agree that saying thank you is soooo important! By showing more appreciation you earn respect, make someone's day and is going to make you a happier person!!! I believe this sooo much that I work for a company called fanx.com ( www.fanx.com ) which is all about showing appreciation and saying thank you! So if you have the time, check it out and make my day! :) thank you for writing this article and encouraging people to say thank you more! :) - 8/18/2011   4:23:09 AM
  • 55
    Thank you! - 8/17/2011   10:58:46 PM
  • 54
    I donīt know if you have talk to a any colombian person, but we say thank you and please A LOT... once I was in Argentina and people found that annoying... We have that costum to always be polite. - 8/17/2011   10:06:31 PM
  • 53
    GREAT article and SO true! - 8/17/2011   9:31:47 PM
  • ALLIB22
    i really want to see the movie soon - 8/17/2011   8:21:50 PM
  • 51
    Appreciation is not expected but when given in the form a letter or the words thank you...............it becomes such a gift! Try to say it authentically at least once a day and watch the flowers of your life bloom! - 8/17/2011   7:31:28 PM
  • 50
    I feel saying thank you is very important in our life. We need to show appreciation, and let others know that we realize that they are important to us.

    Not read the book, but planning on seeing the movie tomorrow with my daughter if my back is doing better. thank you for your blog. - 8/17/2011   7:26:13 PM
  • 49
    Thank you for reminding us of our manners. Good manners seem to be fewer and farther between these days. - 8/17/2011   3:41:19 PM
  • 48
    Thank you so very much for sharing about this book and movie. I now want to go to the movies!! I am so glad that we were brought up to always say 'thank you and please'. I can still hear my either my grandparents or parents say ' Vickie, Did you forget and leave your manners out side??!! We were never allowed to forget our manners or to write thank you notes. I am not sure what this generation is coming to!! Again,thank you for sharing. - 8/17/2011   3:21:20 PM
  • 47
    I loved The Help and appreciated that moment in particular. We were taught to say, please, thank you, yes, ma'am, no sir, etc when we were kids. Of course I taught our child the same manners and that there should be sincerity behind the words. A neighbor who had relocated from the North to Atlanta told me that she thought it was "pretentious". I asked her when gratitude had become pretentious. She said that it wasn't real gratitude, it was habit. I said if it was habit, then it was a good one - and that later in life, when her kids applied for a job against mine and all things were equal, my child's habit of saying things in a polite, mannerly way would get her the job. I noticed a while after that she had started her kids on the pretentious manners. By the way, thanks to you and all the staff at SP for working so hard to help us help ourselves! - 8/17/2011   1:14:42 PM
  • 46
    I like the book "Thank You Notes" by Jimmy Fallon. Cute and funny. - 8/17/2011   12:47:47 PM
    Well stated -- thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    It is unfortunate that so much of American life today is focused on ME, ME, ME and not focused on what we can do for one another, starting with a "thank you" and other signs of respect. - 8/17/2011   12:26:11 PM
  • 44
    I have not read the book but mom and I plan on going to see the movie today!

    It is always better to give than recieve so when we give a thank you to others and do something kind for others we also reap a gift too....we do feel better about ourselves as we lift up others! - 8/17/2011   12:18:46 PM
    When I was a little girl, there were TWO magic words that I was taught - PLEASE and THANK YOU. I taught my own children those two words at a very young age. Although I was criticized by my mother-in-law for having my children use those words when they were with her; she felt it was totally unnecessary for her grandchildren and/or her children to say those two words.

    I am proud and pleased that my children have taught their children those two MAGICAL words, because it shows imho CLASS and RESPECT towards everyone. - 8/17/2011   12:13:14 PM
  • 42
    I believe that saying thank you is part of living a positive life. My mother had me writing thank you notes before I could actually write! I still write actual thank you notes, not just E-mails! I am truly grateful for the people in my life who are willing to help me! I am blind, so need rides to places, something read to me, etc. all the time, and I feel truly thankful and I always express that! I say thanks for compliments even if I don't feel whatever the compliment is for b/c the person giving it meant it. I say thank you when someone holds a door open for me or says God Bless You when I sneeze. The small thank yous are as important as the big ones! Thank you for the blog and for the book recommendation. I am ready for a new book and this will be it! NOt only did I enjoy your blog, but I enjoyed reading all the comments too! What a beautiful world we live in! Thanks!! - 8/17/2011   11:14:38 AM
  • 41
    Thank you for sharing this post with us! Switching gears to gratitude has made many soured relationships take turns for the worst and made a sometimes grey, miserable world smile. It helped me see my mom in a different light after I moved out of the house and went to college, and it makes me feel like the most significant person of the moment when I receive it. - 8/17/2011   10:39:00 AM
    Such a great article, and so true in today's society. As someone who works very hard for little (or no) gratitude, I definitely second your sentiments.

    Thanks so much for sharing! - 8/17/2011   10:36:06 AM
  • 39
    Read "The Help" and loved it! The movie was good, too, but the book really made me love the characters. - 8/17/2011   10:20:52 AM
  • 38
    Nancy, Thank you for sharing with us, and also to comment on THE HELP!
    This weekend, I saw the movie with my hubby, and I could only RAVE ABOUT IT! It was beautifully played, great actresses, and the story many of us that grew up in the 50's and 60's can relate to, perhaps not in totallity, but much of the movie touched us during our younger years.

    As for the "THANK YOU," I too, felt that same way. We all need to utter those two words....to let others know, how much we appreciate the things they do, say, and some times just "being there" when we need it. So to all my SparkFriends.......THANK YOU! You are all the BEST! And I for one, appreciate all that YOU DO, and WHO YOU ARE! - 8/17/2011   9:51:00 AM
    read the book loved the book recommended it to everyone - it made me see things in a different light. - 8/17/2011   9:17:14 AM
  • 36
    I got the book from the library & made it a point to read it before seeing the movie with friends. Don't know if anybody has read Ms. Stockett's info re: writing the book, but if you Google it, you'd find out it was rejected 60 times before finally being published. That says a lot about her determination to get such a wonderful book out into the world. Loved both, as the movie was true to the book--with several liberties typical of movies, of course. - 8/17/2011   9:04:48 AM
  • 35
    I have always believed in Thank you and Please. My children now 14 and 17 have learned those words and I often hear from others how they are amazed . I know these few little words mean a lot to me. Everyone should feel appreciated no matter how big or little the service they have given you. I loved the book!!!! Can't wait to see the movie. I think what I remember most from the book are the thank you's they didn't get. - 8/17/2011   8:40:05 AM
  • 34
    Enjoyed reading your comments on Thank you. In such agreement. Thank you! - 8/17/2011   8:31:19 AM
  • 33
    I read the book and also saw the movie. It was wonderful and I was very touched by Callie's note. It meant something to her and she never forgot it. I am 65 so lived through this era. I lived in Kansas while most of my cousins lived in the south. I remember going to visit a cousin in Houston and going down town on the bus. The "coloreds" had to sit in the back and they had separate drinking fountains for them. I loved Skeeter and her courage to write about something that so desperately needed changing and the injustice of it all brought to light. I will long remember this book and the movie. Now, we wait patiently for Kathryn Stockett's second book. How great for her to have such success with her first book out the door. I think gratitude is a learned art and saying thanks just goes with it. I am grateful to my Mom that she taught me how important it was to be grateful and to say thanks. - 8/17/2011   8:16:00 AM
  • 32
    I love me some Coach Nancy Wisdom!! Love you so so much and THANK YOU so much for speaking into my life. My life has been forever changed because you're in it. - 8/17/2011   8:13:05 AM
  • 31
    Thanks for the great blog. Saying "thank you" is very important to me and I believe it does make us better people. I loved the book, "The Help" and hope to see the movie soon. - 8/17/2011   8:05:17 AM
  • AGAPE548
    Thank you and what a nice reminder as we go through each day. - 8/17/2011   7:50:44 AM
  • 29
    Yes, I read it and loved it too. I'm hoping to see the movie this weekend. Thank you for telling everyone about it! - 8/17/2011   7:22:09 AM
    I have read the book and have plans to see the movie with a friend Thursday.

    This is a good blog, well-written.

    Thank you! - 8/17/2011   6:36:20 AM
  • 27
    great! - 8/17/2011   4:50:06 AM
    Thank you for writing this and making others aware of this problem we see so often in this world anymore. Like here at SP, all of us do this in our spare time and want to help others and it really feels nice to hear a thank you once in awhile and we should always say it too. This blog makes me want to read that book and see the movie! - 8/16/2011   11:39:03 PM
  • 25
    Thank you, for all you do for me and others on a daily basis. I haven't read The Help yet, but have heard nothing but good reviews coming from it. Should pick it up soon! - 8/16/2011   10:32:48 PM
  • 24
    Thank you for sharing. I have not read The Help nor seen the movie. - 8/16/2011   9:15:50 PM
  • 23
    Thank you for this lovely reminder that a little gratitude can go a long way. I am a Jersey Girl who was raised by a Southern mother. She instilled in us the manners to show respect and gratitude to our elders. I in turned raised my children in the south and tried to instill in them those same attributes. I know they both address their elders as "Sir" or "Ma'am" and I hope they thank people for the small kindnesses shown to them. I certainly do. - 8/16/2011   9:02:06 PM
  • 22
    Thank you Coach Nancy! :) - 8/16/2011   6:40:47 PM
  • 21
    Gratitude is the antithesis of entitlement. And being grateful means we understand how interrelated, how interdependent we are.

    Gratitude is grace.

    Thank you for the blog, Coach Nancy. - 8/16/2011   5:37:42 PM

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