“He knew no weapons but to pay for what he wanted, to give value, to ask nothing of nature without trading his effort in return, to ask nothing of men without trading the product of his effort.” On Hank Rearden, Hero in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
Assuming you cannot return a favor to the fullest with your own service or product, the greatest form of gratitude you can provide someone for their service is to pay them. By paying a person who has provided you with something you need (or even just “want” for that matter), you transfer a portion of your own time, of your own labor to them as a “Thank You.”
The beauty of commerce is that it is freely given. When you freely pay somebody for their toil, it is a virtuous thing, indeed. How great you should feel when someone directly pays you for something you have provided. This payment doesn’t always have to be in currency or cash, but all payment counts as a sign of gratitude for your labor.
This is why when any party takes your money against your will it is so treacherous. When a thief steals your property or your cash they have taken a piece of your life. They have taken a portion of your time and labor from you. This is why I have so much problem with governments who force people to work for them through taxation, fees and regulation. By taking cash through the threat of force, controlled economies unnaturally distribute “thank yous” where they are not deserved…by stealing them from those who deserve them.
That is why humans must be free. Free from violence, free to cooperate, free to thank who they want to thank. Of course, this means they should be free to not cooperate with who they don’t want to, to not thank those who do not deserve it, and free to protect themselves from those who would commit violence against them.
Are you free? None of us are 100% free, right? However, shouldn’t we work to be as free as possible?