The Out-Thanking Game

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. 
~ Maya Angelou

Yesterday, I was on the train to Montreal, and this little old couple was sitting behind me. I couldn't help but hear their conversation from time to time, as the man pointed out the lily pads in the water as we passed by them, and the herr that was flying next to our train, and the yellow dock flowers he so loved that were growing wild on the way. The woman would softly respond and they would talk about whatever he was pointing out. It was very sweet. I intermittently fell asleep during their conversation, but I am so glad I was awake for what they did next.

It started slow. He thanked her for accompanying him on this trip. She thanked him for carrying a bag. He thanked her because he said he couldn't have done the journey without her. She thanked him for something else. He thanked her for something. And they just continued like this - thanking each other for each of the little things they could think of.

Out-thanking each other, over and over again.

And it wasn't a game. They were genuinely grateful for each thing they mentioned. You could feel it in their voice.

This made me think about how our lives could change if we engaged in gratitude like that all the time with the people we love. Instead of complaining about the little things, the annoyances, the everyday quibbles to everyone, what if we appreciated every little thing about those in our life?

I already told you the story about my gratitude journal and how it changed my perspective. And in my Awakening Joy course, one of the first main lessons was for us to try to cultivate gratitude daily. To just notice and give attention to the things we are thankful for. Gratitude seems to be an essential ingredient in so many uplifting and life-changing practices.

So when I was lugging my heavy suitcase up the subway steps - step by painful step - and two guys, on separate occasions, helped me take it to the top - I was so grateful for their help. And when the guy in the subway station stood up and gave my sister his seat instead, I was so appreciative of his kindness. And when the girl in the train gave me her seat because I couldn't fit my bag anywhere else, I was so thankful for her considerate gesture.

It's the little things.

And noticing them makes me smile.
And then remembering them later on makes me smile again.
And there can't be anything wrong with that. 

But it's not just the little things that strangers do - we should appreciate all the little things our family and friends do for us, too.

We often give our best face to the public. Scowling at home but then stepping out into the world and being particularly pleasant and nice to the people who cross our path. Yes, we are more comfortable at home and don't have to put up a facade, but if we try to be our best us with our favourite people, maybe our joyful facade would become truth. And then maybe we would no longer need a facade because we would be truly happy and grateful. And then, maybe we could change the world in our small little way. And then maybe the world would be at peace.

(Ok, ok, I'm getting ahead of myself.)
But you get the point.

So my goal is to start being happier and more grateful with those closest to me, not just to strangers. Because if I give my lone smile to the ones I love, I think I'll find I have a well of smiles to draw from for everyone else who crosses my path. Including myself. 

And hopefully, I can start a ripple effect of out-thankfulness in my own life.

So I'll start here:
Thank you. I really appreciate that you took time out of your day to read my words. It is humbling, and truly makes a difference to me.

Ok, your turn.


  1. Thank you for being my friend :)

  2. Rachana , I want to thank you for bringing smile on my face after reading your blog . I also want to thank you for letting us know the real story of the old couple who was travelling with you . Thanks again being my daughter
    Love Bala

  3. Thank you for always being there to listen and also just being you.