Why It’s Good to Say Thank You

I can’t think of a better sound than the word “Thank You.” “Please” would be a close second.

They’re two words that I am realizing I don’t use enough, as we are trying to teach my 4-year-old daughter manners.

As much as I had a complicated relationship with my parents, I think they did a good job of teaching me to be polite and I would like to pass that down to my kid.

Recently, Lauren and I have been discussing how to help Betsy say “thank you” when she gets a compliment or a gift, and lately she seemed to be getting plenty of both.

I’m really good about saying thank you to people when they give me a gift, but when they say something nice or give me a compliment, it’s really hard for me to say it. I usually get uncomfortable with the positive attention and try to swat it away like a fly.

Sometimes I will respond with a self-deprecating remark that seems more like a put-down to myself, especially coming after such a juicy compliment.

I’ve been taught over the years that the best way to take a compliment is so say thank you and then shut the fuck up and feel the feelings that follow. The shame, the embarrassment.

I recently heard a very wise woman say that giving compliments is like giving someone a gift, and when we don’t accept the compliment graciously, we are not accepting their the gift. And when we respond from a place of low self-esteem, which is what that is, we are ripping the person off and not letting them experience the joy of giving the compliment.

I know it maybe surprise you, but I like to give, and the best part for me is the thank you. It feels like it comes full circle. And I know how I feel when I don’t get a thank you. It’s as if the gift has not been acknowledged. I know some spiritual people will say that giving is not about being thanked, but I am not there yet.

But there are other benefits of saying thank you, too, that I didn’t even realize until I read Ken Honda’s book, Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money.

In it, Honda says, “When we say ‘thank you’ we release powerful energy into the world. We are instantly present. We realize everything we have is enough. We are enough. We have all that we need. Knowing this and feeling this is the most powerful force in the universe. You can literally achieve anything when you ground yourself in appreciation and gratitude.”

When I read this I was inspired to say thank you even more, because you know that I am all about the cash and prizes. Betsy is too young to understand this, but maybe I can start to teach her that saying thank you is not only nice buy it also makes you feel good, too. And if she can learn this, so can I.

Want to take your improv to the next level? Don’t miss Jimmy’s Art of Slow Comedy Level 2 class, starting Nov. 4!

3 Tips for Increasing Your Gratitude

I don’t say this enough and that is “Thank you.” Next to “Yes and…,” thank you can be two of the most powerful words. Instead of being grateful, I am usually busy comparing myself to others, which just makes me feel worse.

But being grateful and saying thank you for what I do have right now can not only change your thinking, it can also set you up to be able to take it in even more good things in the future. Although I still have a lot more work to do on this, here are three tips for increasing gratitude in your life:

1. Write out a gratitude list
Oprah did this and she’s done alright. Write out a list of the five or 10 things you are grateful for every day, from the little stuff to the big stuff, like having good eyesight, going to lunch with a friend, etc. It doesn’t matter what the things are, just as long as you write them down.

2. Start E-mails and Conversations with Thank You
Starting all e-mails and conversations, especially difficult ones, with a thank you, is one of the most powerful ways of having better relationships with people. You will not believe how it changes your tone. Start by saying something like, “Thanks for getting back to me,” or “Thanks for your interest in class,” or “Thanks for your hilarious e-mail,” before you respond with anything negative.

3. Take a compliment
When you get compliment after a show, after a class or at your day job, say THANK YOU, and nothing else. No excuses, no justifications, no “Oh, the other people in the group are just as talented,” no bullshit. Just THANK YOU. I don’t care how many times you need to say this to prevent the other shit that usually follows. And if you are really advanced at this, try to actually mean it. That takes time, and I am still working on it.

And now, I would like to thank you for reading my blog, listening to Improv Nerd, and taking my Art of Slow Comedy Workshop or classes this year. I also want to thank all the people who have helped me over this year, from every intern we have had; to my wife, Lauren; to my producer, Ben Capraro; to the good people at Stage 773. Thank you also to all of the cities I went to this year to do Improv Nerd and teach: Huge Theater in Minneapolis, Improv Boston, Voodoo Comedy Playhouse in Denver, and Backline Improv Theater in Omaha. Thank you to Matt Besser at the UCB and James Grace at IO West for letting us do the show in Los Angeles, Miles Stroth for letting me teach a workshop in LA, and to Dustin at for recording the shows in LA and hosting Improv Nerd on his network. I could not have done any of this without all of you, and I am truly grateful.