When I was little, please and thank you were drilled into my mindset and vocabulary.
If you remember being a small child, or you have a small child, or you know a small child (covering all my bases here), chances are high that you’re familiar with this principle. Teaching children to say please and thank you makes them tolerable members of society, and more. ‘Please’ trains them to understand that they’re not entitled to things—’thank you’ reminds them of the same while affirming the sacrifice of the giver. Although most two-year-olds probably won’t grasp this complexity, it’s amazing what mindsets people absorb without understanding them.
As a child grows, the things they ask for often grow with them: please may I have . . . two cookies? Cool trendy jeans? Twenty bucks? The car keys? My college tuition? Your daughter’s hand in marriage?
And though we aren’t (at least I wasn’t) explicitly taught that the amount of gratitude should vary with the size of the gift—
thanks for the scarf mom
HI MOM, THANK YOU FOR BUYING ME A CAR!!!!!!
—it’s easy to get carried away when we get something we really want (cool new gadget) vs. something someone else wants us to have (nice new socks*).
Entering this Thanksgiving with a mindset of ‘please and thank you’ isn’t just spouting vague gratitude for the big things after a turkey dinner (though I do condone this exercise)—it’s using the specific words in everyday interactions with people who might not be please-ed or thanked by anyone else.
Your thankfulness gives you the right mindset this November, but it can also make someone else’s day (work, job, life) better.
* Never understood why socks get such a bad rap, though. I like them a lot.