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How to Say, “Thank You” | The Art of Gratitude
The Truth About Gratitude
Gratitude is essential to building a better world for yourself and the people around you. It is important that you see things to be grateful for in your every day life, no matter how “small” they may be. When you look for and acknowledge these every day blessing, you start to see more and more of them.
It’s humbling and empowering. It generates a positive attitude which opens the door for bigger and better things to come your way. The more you express this gratitude, the more blessings will come your way.
When you give thanks, the giver is inclined to continue giving, whether that is God, the Universe, or the people around you. This is the simple power of gratitude. This is the real (if forgotten) reason you were taught you to say, “Thank you.”
Where did our manners go? Do you remember your mother teaching you how to say, “please” and “thank you”? I do. I also remember teaching it to my cousin’s children and my brother’s children and all the children I’ve taken care of over the past 25 years. Manners are simple and powerful tools that today’s society seems to have misplaced.
I’m shocked almost daily by the people I come across who don’t have the decency to say, “Thank you” when somebody holds a door open for them, invites them to dinner or even simply remembers to send a birthday card.
John Gray Ph.D, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus explains in The Secret that if a woman wants to motivate her man to do things, she needs to express gratitude for the things he already does. Her simple act of acknowledgement fuels his desire to continue giving and acting on her behalf. To take Dr. Gray’s point one step further, I would say that this is true for me as well (and probably everyone else on the planet).
What’s In It For Me?
The best part about giving to someone is their joyous reaction. That’s what makes birthday and Christmas gifts so much fun to give! I suppose that’s why I’m not so hip on spending holidays with certain folks. A day of polite smiles and a series of “You shouldn’t have” really steals the holiday joy.
When I do something for others or give to them, I don’t look for kudos or gooshy replies. Generally a word of thanks or even a passing nod of acknowledgement is enough of a pay off. And, that’s the point, I suppose. We’re all looking for a pay off.
“What do I get out of giving to someone else?” The sharing of a joyful experience. A happy memory created. An amazing feeling. Oh yes, and if my efforts are properly acknowledged, I also get a giddy urge to do something special for that person again. It may not seem like much, but these simple pleasures make life enjoyable.
Saying, “You shouldn’t have” is an inappropriate response and will ensure that the person doesn't give to you again. Be gracious and show proper gratitude, even if you feel unworthy.
When to Say, “Thank you”
It is always appropriate to say, “thank you” when someone gives you a gift (even if it’s just a simple card or flower plucked from the side of the road), performs an act of kindness or service, pays you a compliment. Besides the (hopefully) obvious presents and cards, things we should say, “Thank you” for can include:
- Makes you a meal;
- Gives you a card;
- Leaves you a cheery note or message;
- Passes along important information;
- Does chores to help you out;
- Gives you flowers or a hand-made gifts;
- Gives you family photos;
- Sends Family Update letters;
- Invites you to an event;
- Gives you a ride …
… the list goes on and on. Any time someone else does something for you or gives you something is an occasion to acknowledge their effort.
Remember: The sooner you say, “Thank you” to a person, the better. It keeps the positive feelings flowing and ensures that you don’t forget.
What if I Don’t Like What They Give?
Say, “Thank you” anyway!! While you’re showing your gratitude for the fact that they thought of you and made the effort, you can gently drop hints about what you do like to receive.
What Do I Say?
Depending on what you are thanking a person for, you could:
- Thank them for their time, effort and consideration;
- Mention how grateful you are that they remembered and acknowledged you;
- Tell them how much you enjoyed what they did/gave/said;
- Tell them how you will make use of their gift;
- Talk about how good they made you feel.
If possible, mention the gift or act specifically.
A Note About E-cards
There are several sites where you can find a great selection of free e-cards. They’re quick and easy to send, but can really brighten a person’s day.
Smilebox.com has e-cards that you can customize with your own photos. This a perfect way to send personalize notes to make a special occasion SUPER special. You can email them or even post them directly on someone's Facebook wall.
How to Say, “Thank You”
There are so many fun and inventive ways to show your gratitude to others. You can send a quick note or email letting them know you received their gift or appreciate their efforts. The quick and easy way is to send a store bought card or e-card. If you have a few moments to spare and really want to show your appreciation, you could also use a blank card and decorate it with some nifty doodles with different coloured pens or highlighters.
If you’re handy with Photoshop, you could do up a quick .jpg that says “thank you” in a unique fashion.
Take a photo of the gift being used and send a copy to the person. I do this with outfits and toys we receive for our daughter and it is a big success. The gift-givers are always thrilled to see that the things they sent us are being enjoyed. We usually print the photos up and send them in hand-written thank you cards.
Facebook is very handy for a quick “thank you” posted on someone’s wall. For some people, we post the photos on Facebook and tag the person who gave the gift with a “thank you” note in the description. This also works if you take photos of events you’ve been invited to or acts of kindness others have performed.
Show your gratitude by giving the person flowers, fruit or vegetables, freshly picked from your garden with a hand-written note. And, of course, there is always text messaging, emails and a good old fashion phone call. If you want to make a big impact, wait until you know the person is out and leave a funny or musical message on their answering service/machine that they can replay over and over to brighten their day.
Go For It!
Next time someone gives you a reason to be grateful, take the opportunity to really brighten their day by being courteous. Say, “Thank you” in a fun and creative way or in a traditional manner. Just say it. It’s not hard to do and the little bit of effort you make to acknowledge the other person can forge a bridge of joyful giving that will bring you both blessings for years to come.