There are some words that hold both beauty and power in their meaning and when expressed can penetrate layers of thick skin, vulnerability and can simplify all of our complicated relationships with kindness. Two words in the English language that I try to use daily and appreciate more than any other these days are simple, modest and basic. Thank you. See? Simple and modest and so underrated.
I don't know when or why saying these words have become so old fashioned, perhaps even out of fashion for some, but to me expressing gratitude is an important part of life. When I used to work with kids I taught my students that looking outside the little box we all create for ourselves will eventually expand our boxes and teach us to live in a bigger world. When we are able to appreciate what others do for us and express that, we are showing compassion that every person we come in contact with has the ability to impact our lives. Saying thank you to the woman who wipes our table clean at a restaurant is as equally important as saying thank you to the boss who gave us a hard earned promotion. One doesn't merit this expression of gratitude more just because it benefits us more. Authenticity and gratitude should definitely coincide. Again, a simple act of kindness is a perfect reason to express gratitude. That's what I told the kids and what I wish to practice every day.
In our business we speak to and work with people all day long. Sometimes it's with our customers, but often it's all the behind-the-scenes people that makes our business work. Usually our colleagues consist of editors, bloggers, writers, retailers, sales people, PR people, producers, partners, sponsors and the list goes on. Sometimes we are in demand from some of these folks, sometimes not so much. Most times however, we are in a working relationship and it can become monotonous at times. The busy beauty editor will ask for products they'd like to review a day before a deadline and ask us to rush a product or a retailer will ask for a favor and we all try to work together to do our jobs as best as we can. Believe me when I tell you that it's not always glamorous and I get that we all get super busy daily, but as I notice busy people getting things done I also notice the lack of graciousness that goes into our jobs sometimes. I used to feel hurt when we'd send out samples for a retailer (who asked for products from us) to test or a beauty editor to try and once they received what they wanted or needed, nada. I used to wonder why they couldn't just send an email saying, "thank you, but we're not interested" or "we've tried your products, but they're not for us." I remember the days when I used to submit essays or short stories to the likes of Mademoiselle and Seventeen and also receiving "rejection letters" that stated someone had read my submission and thanked me for sending my story in, it followed with they were unable to publish it at the time. Those rejection letters were extremely precious to me as I valued not just the candor, but the graciousness of an editor sitting down to write it or in some cases adding their signature to a standard letter. It seems this part of our business is now out of vogue. The art of rejection with an appreciation for the effort made. Recently, I wrote a hand written thank you to someone for something nice they did for me and received an email that read, "No worries. It's my job!" I was neither worried or amused by this kind of reply just a bit embarrassed for this person that I still enjoy immensely. It seems accepting the simplicity of appreciation was overlooked and just as when a compliment is made your way it's perfectly appropriate to respond with "You're welcome." Gratitude is kind of just brushed under now and somehow one is supposed to understood that the absence of two precious words is acceptable business practice. Well, I don't accept that and I won't stop sending thank you notes, emails and hell, even a thank you text message if I must because acknowledging gratitude is not a debt for me and I am aware I don't have to do it. I choose to make that part of my individual consequence. It's all an oxymoron if you ask me. The beauty business is all about what we can do to make us all beautiful and nothing trumps beauty from the inside out that emanates from the tender part of your heart. It's just the simplest if not the most overlooked form of beauty there is to be kind, mindful, gracious.
There are a few things that make me really mad and rudeness is one of them. I think it's rude when someone keeps you waiting on them or doesn't return a phone call in a timely manner. I think it's rude when you send an email out and you don't receive a reply. We can probably agree that those are universal rude things, but I think it's the most rude thing of all not to say thank you to someone who has been kind to you or done something nice for you or shared something beautiful with you. It's as though someone makes a choice to receive beauty and not acknowledge it. I am learning though that instead of seeing red I should feel compassion for the person that goes through life without being able to recognize or express gratitude. My Mom used to say, "How long does it take to say thank you? A fraction of a second to say and a lifetime to remember it was said." That smart lady. I never really appreciated those words as much as I do now. As I interact with so many different people I really try my best to be mindful of all the little things we contribute to one another. I try very hard to express gratitude as often as I feel grateful. It is most often for little acts of kindness than it is for the big things that benefit me. Because truthfully that's what I come in contact with more often on a daily basis. I am aware that the kid who bags my groceries is working his way through school with his job and I need to appreciate his work for me and others. So yes, I thank the kid who bags my groceries just as I thank the new business partnership we've just made. Both in my opinion are worthy of the same type of authentic gratitude. One doesn't mean less or more. Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness yet I see many people treat it as such. Gratitude is simpler, truer. It is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude also correlates with our overall well-being. When it is acknowledged and practiced, gratitude can help us sleep better, feel more positive towards strife and lower stress and depression. It is a different pair of glasses that some people wear in order to see the world and live in it more modestly.
It's funny how I seek this out in others now. It's so much simpler than the long list of requirements my youthful arrogance used to make in order to accept others. Now, I'm just acutely aware of what people I work with or share my life with who are genuinely grateful. I avoid getting into long term relationships with those that lack the ability to express gratitude or more often I avoid building relationships with those that don't know better than to accept it. Karen and I have a little hand written note in our office from a certain green beauty bunny who wrote to us. It oozes sincerity with such lovely simple words, "Thank you for your gift of samples. I've enjoyed the products and appreciate your work." This darling took the time to sit down from her busy day to put a pen to paper just to express the simplest and most powerful of emotions to us and for that we're forever grateful.
"I would maintain that thanks is the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -Gilbert K Chesterton