Some years ago I spent time in New York City. One morning, I waited in a busy Starbucks while my latte was made. People rushed in and people rushed out. When the barista called my name, she quickly moved to another task. I paused and said clearly, "thank you very much." Her head shot up and she smiled, as if these words were a rare gift.
Based on this experience, I formed a new practice: look service people in the eye; really see them and genuinely thank them. It takes mere seconds, yet generates gratitude and well-being. When I pause to give a genuine thank-you, I pause to see and appreciate my life.
This process naturally extends to co-workers, neighbors, friends, and loved ones. We often say "thank you," but not in a meaningful way. The words are rushed or mumbled or automatic. Yet we can turn thank-yous into mindfulness practice. Each thank-you is a deep pause--a time to re-connect with ourselves and each other. This happens when we make space in our hearts and minds; space to feel the gratitude and to share the gratitude. It requires very little time, yet that time is meaningful. The thank-you lingers in a beautiful way.