What do people thank you for?

Find out what you should be doing with your life — guided by two words. 

What have you done when someone says thank you? What motivates you?These motivations light up inside you when you’re engaged in a task you love. I think we’d be doing more of what we love, if we weren’t so bad at taking a compliment.

I’m quick to always dismiss a kind “thank you” with a “no problem.” So many of us do it. We deflect an expression of gratitude as if it’s not worthy of praise because we’re doing something that comes so naturally to us that there is no effort at all.

Most of us are really bad at accepting praise. When someone compliments us, we are quick to correct them. I do this all the time:

“Oh wow, I love your top!”
“Thanks! I got it at a thrift store. It was only two dollars.”
“That dinner was delicious!”
“Thank you. It was so easy. Anyone could do it.”

When we turn away a compliment, even with a smiling “thank you, but…” we’re telling the other person that they are wrong. Rather than humbling ourselves, we are discrediting our friend. The big difference between being humble and getting a big head is our grip. Being humble is accepting while letting go. It’s doing something well, and working just as hard to do it well the next time.

Instead of brushing off a compliment, thinking that’s nice of them to say, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on why someone has praised you. You are worthy of a thank you because what you’re being thanked for is the core of which you should be doing more.

The truth is that we are already supremely talented at doing the things that come naturally to us: Getting that document in right away, bringing someone a cup of tea, asking about another person’s loved one, or remembering someone’s birthday and that they love cupcakes from that shop on Main St. We are good at these things because we’re really interested in learning more about people, or alleviating someone’s stress if we can, or making people feel at home.

What you’re really doing when you help someone is saying, I appreciate you and will make time for you because you’re important to me. Even if it’s holding the elevator door open for a stranger or picking up your best friend from the airport at 4am. Kindness is a currency and we are wealthiest people on earth.

What people thank you for could be your authentic pathway to what you’re meant to be doing in this world. No matter what work you do, you can begin to align yourself with the kind of work you want to be doing. Lean into your strengths. Do more of what you’re good at, naturally.

Why are people complimenting you? What are you being thanked for? I think when you find it, you’ll know more about what you want to do with your life. And do more of it.

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