Which One of Us Should Say, “Thank you,” When I Hand Out A Paycheck?

It is a simple question about perspective. I have been on both ends. I remember the days of being a poor student struggling to keep a dime in the checking account. The anticipation for that paycheck from the part-time job that I fit into the evenings between ten hours of school and four more hours of studying before my face hit the pillow, was like water in the desert. I longed for it, I needed it, and I couldn’t wait to have it, because I HAD to have it to survive.

Those years of living paycheck to paycheck are over and I am grateful for that, however, covering half a million dollars in payroll each year has also brought a whole new level of stress. I often ask myself this question: When was I happier, receiving the paycheck or giving one?

I love the quote:

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful,
but gratefulness that makes us happy.” —Brother David Steindl-Rast

For a nine minute journey of gratitude and amazment, please watch:

This question of happiness is not about happiness at all, it is about gratitude. Having been on both sides of the employee/employer relationship, this perspective gives me great insight on how gratitude has a direct correlation with our daily happiness. I now know that the balance in a bank account is not directly proportional to my happiness.

Our neurochemistry is amazing. From the ability to communicate and perceive pain and pleasure to the string of complicated chemical reactions that begin and end the digestive process, the human body will continue to bewilder me. Our bodies communication system is made up of neurotransmitters (sending chemical signals) and neuroreceptors (receiving signals).

One of our favorite neurotransmitters is dopamine, a chemical that our brain uses in the reward/motivating behavior centers. We live in a stressful world piled with demands, deadlines, and expectations. It isn’t uncommon to look for unhealthy things in our life to comfort us and artificially stimulate a dopamine rush bathing our neuroreceptors and tricking our brains into feeling rewarded. But continual “fake stimulation” of dopamine will lead to depleted brain nutrients, depression, and loss of personal connections.

This depressed state is unhealthy on so many levels and we have talked about this in past blogs, but research has shown that one of the most powerful ways out of this depressed state is a gratitude journal—a daily list of the things you are grateful for that day, which stimulates a healthy release of dopamine. This improves a feeling of well being and also evokes a desire to connect with our relationships in a healthy way. I started doing this a year ago with one of my all-time favorite apps called Day One. With today’s smartphones attached to our hips, this app makes it easy for me to snap pictures of moments throughout the day and then at night, I can write a gratitude entry about them. It will even remind me to write, if I get too busy to remind myself. Keeping a gratitude journal has been monumental.

Not only has it dramatically improved my happiness, it is also fun to look back in time and realize how blessed I am, not because of my material possessions, but because of the people in my life.

So the question of who should say thank you when paychecks are distributed, the boss or the employee? Easy . . . BOTH! As the boss, we need to remember that we are paying our employees for what they produced for us. We’re not handing out charity, our employees earned that paycheck by helping move the company forward. Showing gratitude for their hard work helps them feel appreciated. It also helps us feel good by recognizing the amazing team we have working for us. I am soooo thankful for my team and the incredible journey we are on together of creating a unique, one of a kind, extraordinary business. I could not do this without them and hopefully, they cannot do it without me 🙂