There are two powerful words among 8 simple phrases that can change your relationships for the better: Thank you. By expressing our appreciation for others, we do two things. We change our attitude to one of appreciation and gratitude, and we affirm others for the good things that they do. In this way, we help create a positive atmosphere in which goodness can flourish. The best place to start—and the easiest to overlook—is closest to home. We probably have much to be thankful for about our spouses and our families, if only we would take the time to notice.
But you know what they say about familiarity, and it’s true: We can miss what is right in front of us. So why not take some time to think about what you have to thank your loved ones for. Maybe go back over the last week in your mind, review each encounter with them, and look for ways they helped or enriched your life. You may be surprised at how long of a list you come up with. And here’s what you might want to thank them for.
What they do.
Saying thank you for a hot meal is a no brainer. But what about the many little things you may take for granted? He cut the grass. She did the laundry. Sure, that’s your agreed division of labor, but you can still be thankful that your loved one did it.
What they say.
Maybe they offered some words of encouragement or advice that really helped. Be sure to let them know.
Who they are.
This goes beyond just actions or words but acknowledges their character—their inner person. Perhaps you want to comment on your spouse’s integrity in business or relationships with friends or your child’s diligence at school or kindness to the family pet.
Each of these “thank yous” is better the more detailed you can be. So don’t just say thanks for the meal, but remark on how special the rice was this time. Tell them you are grateful for what they said to you because of the way it made you feel, and then explain it.
Being exact in this way demonstrates that your “thank yous” are more than just lip service, and they will likely encourage more of the same. After all, we all like to be affirmed. I have written how speaking positively in this way helps fill the heart chambers of husbands and wives.
All this requires taking time to notice and being specific. So, begin to look for ways to catch people “doing good” and thank them for it. It makes a refreshing change to the way much of the world operates, which is to keep an eye out for when we do things wrong and then jump on it.
Just as there are different things to be thankful for, there are different ways to express it.
Say it out loud.
Let warm words come from your lips. If you’re speaking to people in person, be sure to make eye contact so they know you’re sincere. Or, you might call and leave a voice message. I know someone who has saved some of his favorite messages from his wife to listen to over and again.
Say it in writing.
If you’re not great with words, you can find a greeting card that expresses just what you want to say. But your spouse will probably appreciate your simple words in a handwritten note, knowing that they come from the heart. A quick text during the day can be a great boost, too, and reminds the person you are thinking of him or her.
Say it in actions.
Author Gary Chapman is well known for explaining in his book The 5 Love Languages how some people “hear” things better in ways other than words—perhaps in receiving little gifts, for example, or acts of service. A bunch of flowers or a favorite candy bar left on the counter might make the perfect personal thank you. Filling the car with gas could be another.
Once you have practiced all this in your home setting, look for ways to be more thankful in the wider world. The grocery checkout clerk may be getting paid for taking your money and bagging your things, but if he or she does it with a big smile and enthusiasm, make a point of saying you appreciate it and why.
If I get great service in a restaurant or a store, I try to make it a point to ask for the manager. Then, in front of the manager, I praise the person who served me for a job well done.
Being appreciative in this way helps us take our eyes off ourselves and makes us aware of how much we have to be grateful for. It helps us to develop an attitude of gratitude.
Imagine how the world might be different if we were all a little more appreciative of what others do and made a point of telling them. It may be the start of a quiet little revolution of gratitude.
Imagine how the world might be different if we were all a little more appreciative of what others do and made a point of telling them.
When has being thanked made a difference in your life? Share your experience with others here.