Dear America: Say Thank You More

Two little words hold more power than imaginable.

Riley Towle, Staff Writer

As a routine customer at the panini station of Sutton High School, I have spent plenty of time in its line. Besides getting the privilege to enjoy a delicious handmade panini, I have also had the opportunity to observe and try to understand the behaviors of some of my own peers and younger students. 

The bell rings at 10:42 AM, and students scramble to belt out the orders of their preferred sandwich. The sounds of students listing their preferred lunch meats, cheeses, and deli toppings fill the air, but there is one phrase I wish there were more of–thank you. 

My first experience in the panini line was quite shocking. I was taken aback by the lack of thank yous that left students’ mouths as they quickly rambled off their orders, received their paninis, and made their way back to their lunch tables. Considering that children as young as 18 months old are taught the fundamentals of manners by learning how to say “please” and “thank you”, I would think that more teenagers would use their manners and express their gratitude, but sadly that is not the case. 

That is something that needs to change, not just in the teenagers waiting in the panini line, but in the world as a whole. 

Expressing gratitude is an essential part of my day, every day, and it should become a routine habit for all other individuals as well. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can lead to living a happier and more fulfilling life. Gratitude improves health and helps people build stronger relationships, feel more positive emotions, and deal with adversity. The attitude of gratitude is what keeps us happy, and saying thank you is the simplest and easiest way to express it. They’re two little words, yet they hold so much power. 

And I’m not talking about the quick little ‘thank you’ that you said quietly when someone held the door for you this morning , or the ‘thanks’ you mumbled under your breath when your mom passed you the potatoes at the dinner table last night. 

Sure, that’s a great place to start, but I’m talking about saying thank you and truly meaning it, not because you are saying it out of habit. 

As you sit here and reflect on the powerful words of expressing gratitude, take some time to reflect–when was the last time you paused what you were doing and said a simple thank you? Did you really mean it? 

We say thank you for gifts, special favors, and for help received in times of need. But saying thank you does not matter only in these circumstances and should not just be reserved for special occasions like these. As the The Harvard Medical School study shared above stated, the act of expressing gratitude to others helps to keep us happy, and saying thank you is the simplest and easiest way to express one’s gratefulness and sincere appreciation. 

Throughout my life, I have taken pride in making it a point to say thank you to not only the people I look up to and respect in life, but to my peers and classmates, to my family members, best friends, and our amazing cafeteria workers working hard at our Sutton High School panini station. 

Not only should everyone be saying a genuine thank you to someone’s face in response to a simple act of kindness, but I also truly believe in the value of crafting and sending a heartfelt handwritten thank you note for the extreme outliers who have gone above and beyond. 

When I was in third grade, my teacher taught me about the power of handwriting and the opportunity it presents one to express their individualism and unique self.  Since that day, I have continued to appreciate each and every card I have ever received in my life and in turn see the value of writing and giving a heartfelt card expressing my gratitude to those who deserve a ‘thank you’ beyond a spoken ‘thank you.’ Sending handwritten thank you cards and notes is beneficial to all involved. Not only will writing a thank you card make you feel good, but it also will absolutely put a smile on your recipient’s face and is a forever keepsake expressing your gratitude. 

The ripple effect that follows writing a handwritten thank you card is rewarding, so incorporate it into your gratitude practice. 

Writing thank you cards to aid in expressing my own gratitude towards others will remain part of my daily routine, and so will taking time out of my day to verbally thank those who have made an impact on me. I hope to have others start joining me more often saying more genuine ‘thank you’ or writing simple handwritten thank you notes. So I request, next time someone does a ‘simple act’ that you may take for granted, such as making your panini in the Sutton High School cafeteria, I request that you take a moment to speak those two little words. 

The world needs more of it.