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The surprise power of a "thank you"

Don't you love it when a good surprise happens? That's what happened to me the other day.

Let's set this up: About a year ago, I made a very modest donation to our local community theater to replace the (really) disgusting carpet in the rehearsal space with some new laminate flooring. A list of donors was posted on plain copy paper – not on some fancy plaque – and posted in the rehearsal space.

Fast forward to last Thursday: I was at one of the places I work when Johnathan walked in and casually said, "Oh Cesie, I want to thank you." And I was all like, what? What for? And he said, "Oh I saw that you contributed to the new flooring in the rehearsal space. I'm rehearsing for a play there, and saw your name. Thank you."
Folks, that made my day, it made my week. Heck, even now, it makes me smile. I told my husband about it. I even called the Executive Director of the theater to tell her too.
Why did the two simple words from Johnathan make such an impact?
1. It came as a surprise. Clearly, I was not expecting to be thanked for a gift I gave nearly a year ago. And it was out of context. There was no apparent connection between where I was sitting at work and the community theater. That made it an even more "wow" moment.
2. It came from a surprise source. I don't know Johnathan all that well. I had no idea that he was connected to the theater. And to think he would register my name at rehearsal, save that knowledge until the next time he saw me, and then say "thank you" upped the specialness factor.
3. It released something surprising called "serotonin." The bio-chemical release of serotonin contributes to one's sense of happiness and well-being. When people are depressed, they often lack serotonin. To liberate it, experts advise that you write down things you are grateful for, look at some photo albums, talk to an old friend, or recall good times. In practicing gratitude, Johnathan gave us both a gift.He felt good after telling me "thank you" and I felt great (and continue to feel great) after hearing those two simple words. Serotonin is pretty dang awesome.
Who can you surprise this week with a simple "thank you"?Think about someone who would least expect it and then do it. Guaranteed, you'll feel good and so will the person you thank. Unleash the power of serotonin!

Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing, Oregan-Idaho AC

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