It’s nice that Americans (and Canadians) have a holiday dedicated to giving thanks.  But, it would be nicer still if we made an effort to do this more than once a year, especially if we could do it without being distracted by turkey and football.

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor or the Roman Empire and arguably the most powerful man in the entire world from 161-180, didn’t spend his time lounging on luxurious sofas while eating grapes and being fanned by half naked women: in addition to working his ass off, he constantly practiced giving thanks.  In fact, the first Book in his treatise to himself, Meditations, is called, depending on the translation, Debts and Lessons.  It’s something he constantly added to, and constantly re-read, to remind himself of who he owed for the lessons he had learned.

This is a fantastic practice.  Not only is it a great record of the things you learn, but its a great way to foster relationships.  A recording system like this does two things: it makes you much more appreciative of those who help you when you actually acknowledge, in writing, what they’ve taught you or how they’ve helped you, and it allows you to specifically thank people for those contributions well into the future.

If someone provides some insight for you, or teaches you some lesson, and you’re able to specifically tell them (1) what they said, (2) how you applied it and (3) how that helped your life, a month, a year, or a decade into the future, that is powerful.

Imagine the feeling you would get if someone said to you “Hey, remember that nugget you gave me 2 years ago?  Well, that changed my life.  Because of that, I did X, and Y happened.  I can’t thank you enough.”

Wow.  You’ve put that guy’s ego on a rocket ship, and you’ve got a fan for life.  Even if it’s a small thing, the fact that you thought about it enough to implement it and then thank them for it goes beyond flattery.  It’s perceived as deep respect, the kind that “Oh, that thing you said was real smart!” could never reach.

This all starts with systematically giving thanks.  To make sure I do this every day, “Thank You” is at the bottom of my time tracking template.

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