If you are trying to be happier, I bet you have heard about this advice to exercise appreciation, and why not? Appreciation is one of the greatest positive reinforcements there are in the world. The phrase ‘Thank You’ can be interpreted variably. It simply means that you have acknowledged and appreciated something. A little ‘thank you’ that we say to others for the little favours they do to us is the key to unlocking greater favours.
Thanking someone derives from being thankful. There is this famous Buddhism quote telling: “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.”
However Gautama Buddha had definitely spoken about self-gratitude. You can do it in any manner. But when it comes to showing gratitude to others, apart from ‘thank you,’ you can use other verbal forms, or even some non-verbal gestures that can be as simple as a smile, a handshake or even a nod. Japanese are famous for giving gifts to thank people.
The practice of saying 'thank you' or appreciating people in any way, is, however, extremely low in our country compared to western peers. In Bangladesh, we barely appreciate people for small services or for being polite.
We do not say 'thank you' to a rickshaw puller after taking a ride or to a street-hawker after buying a cotton-candy, and they do not seem to mind it either.
If someone living in a developed country does not say 'thanks' to a shopkeeper or to a driver after getting service from them, that person will be considered as a very rude and uncivil human being. This is a bright example of cultural differences shaping our manners and etiquettes like anything else.
When asked, Anindeta Chowdhury, a student of mass communication and journalism from Dhaka University, said, "I personally feel saying ‘thank you’ is the second step of being grateful.
“Often we think, it's a flashy thing to pronounce 'thank you' loudly; but to maintain a healthy communication, it's very important. That's why I keep appreciating people verbally.
“I always try to appreciate my juniors because the appreciation I got from my seniors has a great impact on being the person I am now and the position I'm holding today. For the sake of maintaining this cycle, I try to appreciate those who will take my place in future.”
It is a good feeling when someone says 'thank you' and doing so is quite easy. But often, our ego stops us from doing this easy task. Lack of reciprocation also discourages us to appreciate people. However, regardless of the behaviour we might receive from the person we thank, we should keep doing it as it will, in time, inspire the persons receiving it now to do the same."
A research published in the IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science reveals that appreciation at workplaces helps in employee retention as well. Practicing gratitude in the office builds up a healthy work environment and boosts up confidence and expands professional networks.
Another recent report from iCIMS, a talent cloud company based in the USA, revealed that 63 per cent of recruiters reported being more likely to hire someone who was attempting for a higher salary but sent a thank-you note than someone who wanted slightly less money but didn’t bother to express gratitude.
Appreciation also strengthens our relationship with our family members, friends and significant others. At the end of the day, we all need someone who understands us, appreciates us and supports us nonetheless. Appreciation is a basic human requirement after all.
When we appreciate others, they notice it and try harder next time. We all respond to the appreciation people show, which encourages us to do better for their sake.
For example, if you notice and compliment the efforts your students put in a project, the next time, they are more likely to do better, or try harder, because they know you care.
Appreciation and the habit of saying 'thank you', more often, is deeply related with mental health and well-being. Both the persons, the giver and the receiver, get benefitted from that. The first step to cultivate this habit is to appreciate those who serve and help you every day.
Whether it’s your mother who makes breakfast for you in the morning, your little sister who searches your favourite pair of socks for you, the gatekeeper who opens the door for you, the cleaner in your home, or the courier who brings you a package, it’s important to be kind to them and recognise their services.
It does not take much to make someone feel important and make their days better. A little appreciation goes a long way.
Kaniz Fatema is currently studying geography and environment at Dhaka University.