How to Make the World a Better Place #2

That’s right. Say “Thank you.”

“Many of our society’s great problems flow from people not feeling seen and known.”

— David Brooks

There are two words in the English language that—when put together in the right order, like a potion in a cauldron at Hogwarts—create a phrase more magical and pure than just about any other. That phrase is:

“Thank you.”

Don’t believe me? Let me explain.

I believe that most people are good. I really do. But life is terrible, isn’t it?—Shush! Don’t give me your optimism. It is, and you know it!—There are good things about it and it’s worth living, sure, but things go wrong all the time, and horrible people are horrible, and there are natural disasters and plagues, and no matter how good things are, the bad things always catch up to us eventually. Sometimes, we need all the help we can get to remember the good things. To believe we matter. To hang on till tomorrow.

Let’s say there’s a person right there. See him? Yeah. He’s a good guy. But he’s really struggling. Life’s caught up to him and he doesn’t know how he’s going to cope. But you don’t know that because you don’t know him, and the pain doesn’t show on his face. But you’re arriving at the gas station at the same time. He opens the door for you—because his mama taught him manners, see, and it doesn’t matter if things suck right now, he’s going to open the door for you—and you glance at him with a smile and say, “Thank you.”

And he leaves the gas station feeling a little better about things. A little stronger. He doesn’t know why, but he does.

But I know why.

It’s because “Thank you” is magic.

“Thank you” says, “What you did, mattered.”

“Thank you” says, “I see your kindness, and it made a difference to me.”

“Thank you” says, “I see YOU.”

For that moment, their goodness and humanity was seen and acknowledged. For that moment, they were connected by kindness with another person, and they weren’t alone. It’s subconscious, it’s fleeting, but it’s real and it’s magic and it makes a difference.

It’s through small, sweet, diligent efforts in our everyday behaviors that the greatest changes in the world—and in ourselves—are made. So make a diligent effort to recognize kindness, and say “Thank you.”

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