Thank you miss and thank you mam and thank you sir. I hear thanks mumbled in the quiet halls and yelled in the busy streets. As common as hello and as frequent as goodbye, “thank you” becomes the background noise to our lives.
It’s polite to say thank you, sure, but true kindness cannot be repaid with mere words. The old saying an ‘eye for an eye’ is as familiar as apple pie, but what is the equivalent for a good deed? Time to repay kindness with kindness.
The next time you want to say thank you, stop and reflect: what exactly are you thankful for? And how can you repay the kindness with actions instead of words?
A Hallmark card doesn’t do kindness justice – thank you for ‘being a friend’, ‘helping me out’, and ‘sticking by my side’ lack sincerity. Why not get more specific? Let’s consider exactly what we’re thankful for, and then figure out how to repay the kindness with actions.
This week, let’s act out our gratitude. Each time you begin to say thank you, pause, reflect, and then devise a plan for repaying the deed.
Research by Professor David Rand at Harvard University suggests that children and adults have an innate desire to strengthen the community. Children are quick to react to the impulse, but adults are more likely to pause, consider how the community will judge their behavior, and refrain from helping.
Dale Miller, Director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Center for Social Innovation, reasons that people fear being seen as opportunistic or self-interested, and so they refrain from publicly helping others. Moreover, people fear that seemingly selfless actions will inspire cynicism and suspicion from peers.
Luckily, Professor Miller is working to overturn the Darwinian theory of self-interest, and arguing that compassion motivates people to help others (not self-interest!). He contends that people who overcame hardship practice altruism to return the favor and help the people around them. Altruistic individuals understand suffering and have a sincere desire to alleviate it.
What do you think? Are you quick to help others? Do you worry that people will think you have selfish motives?
PS- The awesome hoop art was made by StitchCulture. Check out her Etsy shop and say hello!