Don't Wait Until Thanksgiving
One of my best friends recently posted a picture of a beautiful rose bouquet on her Facebook. It was delivered to her from one of her patients. It came with a note that read: "Dear doctor N.L., thank you so much for all your help with my treatment. You saved my life and my happiness. I wish you all the best. I will be forever thankful to you." My friend wrote it brought tears to her eyes. It seems to me that despite the fact we all use the "thank you"phrase regularly and we teach our children to use it, we rarely mean it. We don't express it in a way that shows the other person our gratitude, and I think lots of times it is because even though we are polite enough to say it, we are a little too numb to feel it.
This example stands out to me because of a simple reason - my husband is a doctor as well. I say good bye to him in the morning when he leaves for work. I send pictures of Kai and of things we do throughout the day, so he gets to see what his family is doing while he is taking care of others. He gets home around 7pm most of the days. He plays with Kai until Kai's bed time, which is usually around 7:30pm. We eat dinner together after the kid is asleep. He tells me about his day and worries about his patients and their families, especially if he had to give them bad news (and mind you, with his specialty it is very often bad news rather than the good ones). He gets sincerely concerned about the ones with young children and sincerely saddened about the ones that used to be super active and now can't be, because it turns their lives upside down. And yes, he gets frustrated that he can't enjoy more peaceful time with his family because of his profession. I think that's how most of us feel, no matter what our job is. After dinner, he still needs to finish his notes from the day, so he types away until after midnight and then goes to sleep.
I have been to the doctor many times. It is a pain in the butt all the way through. They don't have any appointments available until weeks later and the ones they have are in the worst time slots for your schedule. They are never on time and you have to sit in the waiting room staring at the clock thinking of the next appointment you are surely to miss now. You meet with the doctor that spends maybe 15 minutes with you and you feel like he is just trying to get to the next patient (which he probably is). You leave the office and receive an astronomical bill that cleans your bank account. Why would you think of thanking a person who put you through so much trouble, especially when he is, after all, just doing his job, right? He made the choice to do this, he gets paid to do this, so what?
And you are right. But maybe next time, try to remember that this person is not done when the clock strikes 5. Maybe remember that even though he might have seemed rushed, he thinks about you and your family while he is eating his dinner at home. Maybe next time think about the time he sits at home late at night researching all the articles to make sure he gave the best care and advice to you. That a few weeks or months later, he tells his wife on his day off "I wonder how so and so is doing. I tried to call a couple times, but haven't heard back." And the next time you see him, let yourself feel the gratitude and say thank you. It's easy. It doesn't cost you a thing. And it makes a big difference. It makes the person want to share with the rest of the world that they were appreciated and that it made them cry to hear that.
I used the example of a doctor profession, but I am sure you realize this goes far beyond. It doesn't matter if you are a doctor, teacher, plumber, garbage man or a stay at home mom. All that matters is that people around you actually do a lot to make your life better. So instead of criticizing and complaining about the waitress that was not all smiles to you, maybe think about your part and what is it that you did to make her day a little bit better. A genuine thank you can make a big difference.