It's 11 pm at the Hampton Inn in a Seattle suburb. I close the curtains, shutting out the lights from all the big box stores around me. It's not what you call late by any stretch but my body is weary. I arrived from Hawaii on a delayed flight the night before and then taught two early sessions a yoga conference. For whatever reason when my body finally hits the mattress this night it feels profoundly welcoming. Sleep will come almost in an instant tonight.
I think about what a great day I had at the conference, even though I am exhausted. I can tell that the organizers put their hearts and souls into this event. People often imagine that just because I teach yoga that my life is all "chai tea drinking and meditation," but I am still a small business owner. This means that to the observer I appear like a duck floating casually in water but my feet are paddling like crazy under the surface. You have to be passionate about your work in the yoga business. Even though there are so many articles coming out about how yoga is a 6 billion dollar business, these profits seem to be split between 600 million people. I've realized that for the most part money doesn't grow on tree pose!
Weary as my body is, I pry myself off my bed, pick up my iPhone and send a quick text to the organizer. Nothing fancy, just something short and simple like: "thank you for organizing this event, the effort has increased the happiness of so many." I put the phone down, get under the sheets and collapse.
I don't think much about this text, but the next morning the entire conference staff smiles at me saying, "Thanks for your text!" I am little confused how they even know about this. Apparently it's been forwarded to all the staff!
When talking with the organizer later that night, she tells me that in the three years she has been running this conference, none of the teachers has ever emailed or texted a thank you! In a later conversation that weekend, I see the extent of what they have gone through to make the conference happen including nights sleeping in a truck with her partner to save money and even years living in an RV. "Blood, sweat and tears" is an understatement so the thank you feels incredible to receive.
I wonder to myself, "Why is it that something so obvious like sending a thank you text or a card gets overlooked? Isn't this what we try and teach our children in Grade School?"
Perhaps this is exactly it. Because it seems so obvious and simple we often don't take the time to thank people that we should. Isn't it just a given that we are grateful?
Besides this, the real issue is busyness and because we all live such busy, tiring lives even a simple thank you is often overlooked. Time is a crushing enemy which we can't stop racing against. I felt it on the bed that night before I sent that "thank you" text. That feeling like, "I don't have time for this," but somehow I did.
I can't pat myself on the back for doing this though. The fact is that I was merely responding to the generosity that so many others had bestowed upon me in the weeks previous.
As a traveler often you are required to accept the kindness of strangers and friends alike. Earlier that month in San Mateo, California and later back in Vancouver an incredible number of people did so many nice things that week that I had to make a list of all the people to thank. For example, my old friend picked me up at 6:10am to drop me off at a graduate of our YTT's class, studio owners fed and housed me, friends made me dinner and gave our son a beautiful "hand me down" jacket and the list goes on.
So at the workshops I was leading I asked all attendees to write down all the people they had to thank that week.
It was amazing how everyday things became suddenly important. People were grateful for things like their barbers doing a good job cutting their hair or to the dedication of their staff.
The other thing we noticed is how we focus only on the negative often with our inner circle. When it comes to the people closest to us, we sometimes only see what drives us crazy and overlook the things we love about them. The Buddhists call it "inappropriate attention." Familiarity can numb gratitude.
I have been really analyzing a word we don't use often enough anymore. That word is reverence. When looking it up on Wikipedia I loved the description of "increasing one's receptivity to greatness." Let people know you revere what they do even if it is just your haircut.
Meister Eckhart says, "If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is thank you, it will be enough." In this busy world, it's never too obvious to say. It takes a few seconds and the ripple effect could be huge!