I read recently that a majority of flight attendants wish for more of one thing, something beyond anything else in their work. It’s not more money, better conditions or more time off though those things may be on their overall wish list. Their number one wish is that more people would say thank you.
As we all know, they deal with rude, entitled, unhappy travelers much of the time and have to keep their cool and a positive, helpful attitude going through it all. I understand their request.
It seems to me that the thank you’s they seek are also missing much of the time in our general culture as well. And while we don’t technically need words of thanks or commendation nor should we make that our goal in doing anything well, it’s nice to have someone notice our kindness, extra efforts or long-term faithfulness, isn’t it?
Somehow the words thank you can help melt away our discouragement, weariness and the sense that we don’t matter that much. Those two little words are more welcomed than trophies, certificates or degrees. One of the books of wisdom in the Bible, Proverbs, says that death and life are in the power of our words (18:21). In other words, what we say matters and holds great weight regarding whether we have motivation and inspiration for the future. Words can kill, so to speak, or re-vitalize.
Let me be clear. I’m talking only about saying thank you. I’m not suggesting that we gush, flatter or falsely brag on someone. Expressing appreciation doesn’t mean that we think they’re perfect or have a special relationship with them. Thank you in this context merely suggests that we noticed what another person did for us and we’re telling them about it.
In fact, being thankful can become an antidote for our own discouragement, depression and failing attitudes. When we’re thankful we remember more of what we have and think less about what’s missing. When we’re thankful we tend to ponder good things rather than all the bad stuff. When we’re thankful we re-visit how blessed we are.
Thankfulness also helps us focus more on HOW we will respond to our problems rather than the WHY of it all. Later in the New Testament we’re told to in everything give thanks. It doesn’t say have gratitude FOR everything, just IN everything. When we’re discouraged thanks will help, When we’re overwhelmed thanks can help shut down our unhealthy thinking so we can focus more on answers and next steps.
Who might you thank today with actual words? Try sending them a handwritten note or calling and telling them directly how much you appreciate them. What could you be thankful for in spite of your negative circumstances? Even a short prayer could make a difference.
I guarantee you’ll see more of life from a new perspective as you thank God, your family and others. Start now or keep at it. Don’t wait. Make thank you’s a habit. And who knows? Even some flight attendant might also enjoy a better day!