Gratuities And The Art Of Receiving

I have worked in the service industry in Southern California for most of my life. In the last 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure to work in the massage and bodywork field, which I absolutely love and I am wildly passionate about. I consider myself  blessed to do work I truly love to do, and my work helps people which makes me feel very much aligned with my core values and spiritual purpose.

Here in America, there are some jobs in the service industry at large, in which there is an unwritten expectation the customer or client will extend a gratuity for the services received. This expectation extends across many different types of service, including spa services such as massage therapists, as well as bartenders, food servers, car wash personnel, nail technicians, and more.


Other countries don’t seem to have this unwritten expectation. In Australia, for instance, a food server actually makes a living wage for the work they do, and gratuity isn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind.  But here in the states, that’s not the case. Food servers in America make a ridiculously low hourly wage, with the anticipation that they will make tips to compensate for their effort.

As a massage therapist in America, gratuities are part of my income. My current employer justifies a lower wage or percentage of pay with an expectation that I will  be additionally compensated with gratuities. And yes, gratuities are subject to taxation. Now, I work extremely hard, and I am highly skilled at my job. I am very well educated, and I hold the highest credentials I can obtain in my field. Unfortunately, I am not always well compensated for my education and experience with a livable wage. I do rely on gratuities to help pay my bills, make ends meet, and put food on the table for my children.

All that being said, you can see why gratuities could potentially be a sensitive subject for a massage therapist, or any person working in any service industry where gratuity or tipping is the norm.

I’ve personally noticed a few things about gratuities that extends across all jobs I’ve had in the massage and bodywork industry. Sometimes, people leave big gratuities, sometimes, they leave very small gratuities, and sometimes, they leave NO gratuity.


I think that therapists forget sometimes that a gratuity, while maybe unofficially expected, is completely voluntary on the part of the client. Well, unless you are working at a very high end spa where a gratuity is added to the tab… but the average bodyworker isn’t in that place. Whether you felt like you gave a rockstar therapy session or not, you don’t get to decide what sort of gratuity, or IF any gratuity, is warranted. That’s up to the client to decide.

In my career, I learned early on to be very grateful for each and every gratuity, no matter how large or small. I have made it a practice to gather any gratuities I’m given and hold them all together until the end of the day. I give thanks to each and every person who chose to give me this gift, because that is exactly what a gratuity is… a gift. And then… I turn each envelope over so that I can’t see who gave me what. And only THEN… I open each envelope.


This practice helps me stay in a space of gratitude. By not paying attention to who gave me what, and concentrating on being grateful for what I have received, I maintain a positive mindset about each and every client. This creates a happy synergy within my practice, and creates a space for clients to feel appreciated, and in turn, for my business to grow. And as a bonus.. when you are positive about gratuities you receive, you’ll notice they start to get bigger and better. It’s the Law of Attraction in action. And after all, the words “gratuity” and “gratitude” sure do sound similar, don’t they??


So, my fellow therapists… I challenge you to try this exercise in gratitude. CHOOSE to be grateful for each gratuity you receive, no matter how big or small. Do not keep track of who gave you what. And watch your mindset shift into positivity. Watch your business grow as your shift into gratitude. And watch how that positivity spills in to other areas of your life.

Love, Cam xoxo

Hey, did you like what you just read? Please like, share, and subscribe!

Or, are you a therapist who tried this exercise and found a shift in your thoughts on gratuities? Did you suddenly start receiving better tips when you shifted to an attitude of gratitude? I want to hear about it! Send me your story. xoxo


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