The art of the thank you note is one I mastered early on in life thanks to a long family history of thank you note writers.
Once, I wrote a thank-you note and got a boyfriend as a reply. You see, he thought I was flirting with him, when in reality I was just extending my gratitude for a job well done. I suppose expressing thanks for the mundane was foreign to him, and he could not wrap his mind around the idea that someone would do that just for the sake of it. Regardless, we dated for a few years and I think it was my bottomless pit of appreciation that pulled us through for as long as it did.
Gratitude can be a transcendent experience. I don’t mean to get all Deepak Chopra on you, but gratitude really has a way of creating a connection with depth and meaning.
It’s a hallmark of Jewish life. We experience that deep and meaningful connection with G-d daily through our endless stream of thanks. The first words out of our mouths every morning are words of appreciation for having our souls returned to us, in the Modeh Ani prayer; and more expressions of thanks follow throughout the day - including before and after meals, following a bathroom break, upon seeing a rainbow or any other wonder of nature etc.
Quite frankly, if the content of the standard siddur (Jewish prayer book) were sprawled across Kate Spade designer stationary, in perfect penmanship and with some attractive packaging - it would sell off the shelves of your local Papyrus store among the new-age spiritual hipster crowd. “Thanks is totally the new black,” they would proclaim. “It’s just so uplifting.”
And for once, they would be spot-on!
We know this very well as Jews, since we are basically commanded to be in a constant state of appreciation. We are called the Yehudim, the thankful ones - a name derived from Leah’s proclamation and gratitude upon birthing her fourth son, Yehuda.
So, why is it that we oftentimes neglect saying thank you to those who deserve (and long) to hear it the most? I’m talking about our partners, our lovers, our spouses, our other-halves. The people who support us in our weakest moments and contribute to our highest highs, with whom we should strive to have the deepest and most meaningful connections.
“Because they already know it”; “Because you forgot”; “Because you don’t have the time”; “Because you are passed that point.” I hear your mumbles and to all that I say: rubbish!
On this holiday weekend, I propose we celebrate thanksgiving the whole year through and cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our relationships.
I don’t feel a need to justify this proposal because celebrations and gratitude are standard Jewish fanfare but to emphasize its importance I will: It is as important to give thanks, as it is to receive it - and both should be done genuinely and generously.
Giving thanks to your loved one is important to them for the obvious reasons that it makes them feel appreciated and loved, and will probably result in some sort of reciprocation, which in turn, will obviously benefit you.
Expressing thanks is important for you because it forces you to pause momentarily and take account of your good fortune, which you in part owe to your significant other. This will instantly raise your level of personal satisfaction along with other positive emotions.
It will also increase your appreciation of your sweetheart.
But what about this deep connection I spoke of? Well, giving and getting thanks requires a significant level of humility that is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Expressing gratitude strips your soul bare - and naked is always a good state when we are talking romantically, figuratively and literally.
Finally, and most importantly, gratitude is married to happiness. By extending gratitude to somebody, we acknowledge that they are responsible for our happiness and that is an extremely powerful shared human experience.
So, how do you celebrate thanksgiving the whole year through, you might wonder? You begin by making quality time regularly, gathering around the table (in true Jewish form), and taking turns to express your respective thanks in thoughtful words, and matching actions.
For now, I wish you a meaningful Thanksgiving with those you love. Be grateful for the turkey you will be eating, but also for the person who cooked it, and with whom you will share it.
Margaux Chetrit is the founder and president of Three Matches, an international dating agency. Her insights on love and sex are inspired by a career in diplomacy, a panoply of academic degrees and ex-boyfriends. For more of her musings, please visit: www.threematches.com or follow her at www.twitter.com/threematches and www.facebook.com/threematches