JayaShri Maathaa: How Can Saying "Thank You" Transform Your Life? During the coronavirus pandemic, monk JayaShri Maathaa continually turned to one powerful mantra: "thank you," a statement of genuine gratitude to provide solace and strength in troubled times.

JayaShri Maathaa: How Can Saying "Thank You" Transform Your Life?

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Before we go, there's one last idea I want to share with you and one good thing that may have been sparked in 2020, which is more appreciation for the little things in life. So many people have had to face serious hardships, put their dreams on hold and simply be grateful to get through to tomorrow.

Personally, I'm so grateful to you for welcoming me into your ears this year as the host of the TED Radio Hour, especially since the team and I had to figure out how to make the show away from the NPR studios and in closets and bedrooms across the country. And so go with me here. I'd like to close this episode this year with a reflection with JayaShri Maathaa, a monk and spiritual teacher. She gave a talk about how changing the purpose of her own life led her to a profound understanding - the power of just being thankful.


JAYASHRI MAATHAA: During the peak of coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka - that is mid-2020 - I came up with a surprising way to fill my life with bliss and grace. A magical mantra was nurturing in the garden of my mind. It felt like all good thoughts that I had planted in my mind has begun to blossom into something beautiful. This magical mantra was like a magic pill for all perceived suffering, which not only affected my life but everyone else connected to me.

Thirty-eight years of my life, I went on a self-seeking journey, finding, who am I? I went through a conscious dying process, letting go of everything attached to my name - well-established career as a coach, a charity consultant, hypnotherapist, energy healer, intimate relationships, attachment to family, 12 years of well-established business. So what was this magical mantra that transformed my life for better?

Thank you were the two simple words that filled the space between my ears like a music in my head. This was experienced profoundly during the pandemic, as everyone connected to me was filled with fear and doubt and anxiety. And I had to do something different. The first thought came to my mind first thing in the morning as I woke up was thank you. And the last thought occupied my mind when I went to sleep at night was thank you. I was thinking thank you when I ate, when I drank, when I worked, when I walked, sat silently, when I consumed every man-made material. It was like a music in my mind. Sometimes, I said the word thank you loudly, even to inanimate objects like sun and the moon and the stars, birds, butterflies, trees, little creatures in the garden, as if I was greeting them.

When you say thank you, it creates a harmony between you and the external condition and observation. It helps you to bring your attention inwards. It may be initially just a word running in your head without a true feeling of gratitude in your heart. A word is a sound, and a sound is a vibration. And vibration creates energy. So when you keep thinking thank you, after a while, that energy starts penetrating into your heart center and the rest of the body.

We cannot do much about troubled times and conditions in life, but we certainly can do something to calm ourselves during troubled times. Human mind is like water. If it gets affected by external conditions, it creates movement, and you cannot see the depth. This magical mantra - thank you - and the true feeling of gratitude in your heart can help you deal with any life situation peacefully, joyfully and blissfully. May all beings be well, happy, free from all suffering and be enlightened. Thank you.


ZOMORODI: Thank you, as always, for listening to our show. Wishing you a peaceful end to this tumultuous year. To learn more about the people who were on this episode, go to ted.npr.org. And to see hundreds more TED Talks, check out ted.com or the TED app.

Our TED Radio production staff at NPR includes Jeff Rogers, Sanaz Meshkinpour, Rachel Faulkner, Diba Mohtasham, James Delahoussaye, J.C. Howard, Katie Monteleone, Maria Paz Gutierrez, Christina Cala, Matthew Cloutier and Farrah Safari, with help from Daniel Shukin. Our theme music was written by Ramtin Arablouei. Our partners at TED are Chris Anderson, Colin Helms, Anna Phelan and Michelle Quint. I'm Manoush Zomorodi. And you've been listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.

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