Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough.”
Two small words that mean so much, and yet I don’t think we say them as often as we should. And, when we do say thank you, what are we actually saying? Do we say it because we’ve been raised to know that it’s good manners to say thank you? Do we really mean it when we say it? Or do we say it out of a sense of duty? There are also times when we don’t say thank you immediately because it feels uncomfortable, like when we receive a compliment maybe or if we’ve been told we’ve done a job really well. Sometimes, it feels more comfortable to make an excuse about the thing we’ve been complimented on; this feels easier than simply saying thank you.
Many of us, including me, are often so preoccupied about what other people really think, that even when we do get told we’ve done something well or somebody is really happy with what we’ve done, those words of praise don’t seem to sit well and we deflect the compliment entirely. Hands up if that applies to you. My guess is there are quite a few of us with raised hands right now; quite a few of us that do feel awkward when somebody gives us a compliment. ‘Thank you, that’s very kind’, is a much more straightforward thing to say but we often find ourselves searching inside for a response which really deflects the compliment altogether. We’re a funny lot aren’t we?
Saying thank you in that sense, in response to something nice said to us, generally requires a verbal response but the art of saying thank you doesn’t always need to be via the spoken word. It can be said quietly with our internal voices. Eckhart’s quote reminds us of the wider, bigger than us,importance of saying thank you and how, even if we never pray in the conventional sense of the word, (I happen to and I also happen to believe in the psychological power of prayer) saying ‘thank you’ is the only type of prayer we ever need to say. I think I can say with certainty, that kind of prayer gets said more than some of us would ever like to admit.
Who doesn’t say thank you with our inner voice, when we’re told a positive outcome about something that’s been long-awaited and to which there’s been so much uncertainty attached? Who doesn’t say thank you when we hear that our family and friends have safely arrived where they’re supposed to be? Who doesn’t say thank you when our interview for a job is over (whether you know the outcome or not!) or a presentation has gone well? These are the kinds of quiet thank you’s that we think only we hear but they’re as important as the thank you’s we say out loud for everyone to hear.
Saying thank you in this quiet, internal, but at the same time, putting it out there kind of way, is an expression of gratitude; an acknowledgement of the things that are important to us. And, do we say our internal thank you’s knowing there’s only us that hears them or are we saying them just incase there’s something out there that can hear them? It’s a big old place this Universe.
Today, I want to say thank you for three things. I want to say thank you for the lovely day that I’ve had with my family: my mother, my sister and brother-in-law, my niece and nephew and my two-year-old (totally adorable) great-nephew. We’ve celebrated a family birthday in a very normal kind of way but in a way that feels nice, comforting and warm. I want to say thank you for my friends because you’re all just so lovely and mean so much to me and I want to say thank you for this wonderful life; we forget that sometimes don’t we, just how wonderful life really is?
At the end of every day (and it’s past my bedtime already!) what matters and matters a lot, is the act of saying thank you, the act of acknowledging and being grateful. And, whether you say it with your inner or outer voice the thing that matters is that you say it.
Let’s all practice saying thank you together and the next time somebody gives me a compliment, I’m going to say thank you to that too.