Do I do things just to be thanked? I'd like to say no, but I know that I like to be acknowledged and appreciated. Those 2 words just seem like they're easy to say.
I appreciate politeness - I'll even go so far as to say that I expect it. And that I'm shocked when it doesn't come. Here are 2 instances where I expect politeness, and a little "thank you."
1. DRIVING. When I slow down to let someone in front of me, I expect a little hand wave in return. When I don't get one, I make sure that I do a big hand wave while loudly saying "YOU'RE WELCOME!" to the driver that hopefully s/he sees in the rearview mirror and remembers "oh ya! I should have said thank you!"
2. HOLDING A DOOR OPEN. I hold doors open for others, and love to hear a little "thank you" in return. When it doesn't happen, I sometimes say "YOU'RE WELCOME" in a loud enough voice so that the ungrateful person thinks "oh ya! Maybe I should have said thank you!" Or, when someone doesn't hold the door open for me, I say "THANK YOU" in a loud enough voice so that the non-holding-door-open-person thinks "oh ya! Maybe I should have held that door open instead of letting it slam in her face."
Am I proud of these 2 examples? Not at all. Definitely part of my darker side - this shaming method of eliciting "thank you's" and not-so-genuine courtesies from total strangers.
I also like to be thanked by family members for the stuff I do for them. Am I just really needy? Perhaps.
I want to teach my kids gratitude. To say "thank you" to others. To write thank you cards. To be grateful for what they have. To thank people who do them favours - like driving them here or there, and taking time out of their days. Saying thank you is just like building a small little bridge to that other person - a bridge of goodwill that makes them want to cross over again.
But do I ask my kids, "What do you say?" to get them to say thank you? (Said in a sing-songy way, with the word "say" stretching out for 2 syllables in a up-down sort of way.) (I hate asking this, but sometimes I feel I should when the thank you's aren't forthcoming.) I know they hate to be reminded to say thank you, and I know I sound stupid reminding them. Lately I've been waiting and waiting and waiting, and usually they do come through with those 2 little words, sometimes in very very quiet voices, but still there. Phew. I'm not raising total hellians (yet).
I've read that for some people, expressing gratitude was life-changing. Keeping a gratitude journal and tracking the many blessings even amidst the muck of life turned their world around. I think that by expressing gratitude to God, we can learn to be grateful to others too. When we practice noticing the little gifts around us, we can also see the ways that others "gift" us during our days. Gratitude prayers we try to do around here include:
* pray at the end of the day using the "glad, sad, sorry" prompts. Glad = gratitude.
* pray at mealtimes, thanking God for specific things in our day.
* pray before meals, thanking God for our food. Eating good food every day is something I don't want my kids to take for granted.
* pray in the morning, thanking God for a new day of surprises.