by Lawrence W. Reed
With a few paragraphs in an email message, a lady named Wynne Wages really made my day last Wednesday (July 25, 2018). Her simple but profoundly thoughtful gesture reminded me of just how important it can be to let someone know you did something that made a difference, large or small.
Ms. Wages generously gave me permission to reproduce her email verbatim. Here it is:
Dear Dr. Reed:
In June 2015, I sat beside you at the Broadway musical, “Amazing Grace.” You gave me your card and I tucked it away. My oldest two children and I were in the city before going to visit West Point and back down to Queens to meet our church for a mission trip.
Our oldest son is now beginning his sophomore year at West Point and our oldest daughter is a rising junior at Auburn High School. Anna Louise wants to go to The King’s College in NYC and major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. With that in mind, I pulled out your business card and did a little research on FEE. She is currently attending the FEE Leadership in Action Seminar at Emory University. She is learning so much and having a wonderful time.
I just wanted to let you know how one interaction at a short-lived Broadway musical has trickled down…three years later! Thank you for that.
Wynne’s daughter Anna Louise, by the way, loved the FEE seminar to which her mom referred. While there, she recorded a short video about her experience, for which all of us at FEE are deeply appreciative.
How often do we pause and think about expressing gratitude? Probably not enough. In an essay about the young Holocaust-era diarist Anne Frank, I explained that recent scientific evidence corroborates the benefits of a grateful spirit. It’s more than just uplifting to the person receiving it; it’s also mentally, emotionally, and even physically rewarding to the person who exhibits it.
“Research shows,” I wrote, “that gratitude is an indispensable key to happiness (the more of it you can muster, the happier you’ll be) and that happiness adds up to nine years to life expectancy.”
Over the past 40 years, I’ve spent a great many hours thanking people for their support of liberty in general and of organizations I’ve worked for in particular, such as the Center for Market Alternatives in Idaho, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan, and—for the past decade—the Foundation for Economic Education here in Atlanta. I’ve expressed that gratitude by email, by phone call, by letter, and verbally in person. I never get tired of it because I know it’s uplifting to both the recipient and me.
To Mrs. Wages and her daughter, I reiterate my gratitude for your thoughtfulness. You prompted me to take this opportunity to make a larger point that I hope everyone who loves liberty will note.
Perhaps in no small measure, the success of our movement may be greater if we all seize those moments to pat a friend or an ally on the back and say, “Thanks. You made a difference. Keep it up.”
It may seem like such a little thing, but expressing gratitude is a bigger deal than most people realize.
The author and ever-quotable Robert Brault put it well when he wrote, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”