It's not a bad word

A recent conversation with my preschooler granddaughter:

Me (for probably the third time): “Please pick up your toys, or it’s straight to bed.”

Granddaughter, with “humphs” and a fair bit of stomping, picks up toys.

Me: “Thank you.”

GD: “Don’t say that. That’s a bad word.”

Now, lately I’ve noticed that anything I say that she doesn’t like is a bad word. And she was mad that I made her pick up her toys. I guess saying thank you just rubbed salt in the wound. But preschool precociousness isn’t the topic of this post. Saying thank you is.

We’ve all probably heard about or read posts about having an attitude of gratitude. It helps fend off depression and anxiety, plays a role in having a more optimistic outlook, and has many positive physiological effects. But it doesn’t do as much unless we say it.

When’s the last time you said “Thank you” to your spouse or partner? Have you thanked your child for remembering a chore or saying something nice to you or about you? Ever try thanking your server or cashier? (It gets you better service, guaranteed.) You probably have done all these, but probably not enough.

We tend to keep our thoughts in our heads and not let them out our mouths. That’s definitely valuable in most cases, but not in this. You cannot say “Thank you” enough.

We live in a society where it’s easy to feel overlooked and undervalued, overwhelmed and underappreciated. Hearing someone say “Thank you” isn’t a cure, but it is a bit of healing salve on our open wounds. (And don't we need some healing now!) It says, “I notice you,” “I appreciate you,” and “Something you did mattered to me.” Think about how you receive a thank you – whether you think you ought to be thanked or not you like to hear it and the words give you a little boost. Literally, emotionally and physically. And it even does so when it’s a thank you for something we did grudgingly, like clean up our mess when we’d rather play.

So say thank you. It’s not a bad word.

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