Rule No. 1
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Rule No. 1

Rule No. 1 for Giving Thanks

Saying “thank you” is something we all learned as babies. One of the first phrases we memorized long before we could even pronounce it correctly. Like parrots, we were trained by our parents and teachers to spit out those words any time something was given to us. And like parrots, we never really thought about what those words meant.

It became an impulse — the obligatory end to any interpersonal transaction. Person A hands Person B a pencil, Person B says “thank you!”. Person A holds the door for Person B, Person B says “thank you!”. Person A saves Person B’s life, Person B says “thank you!”. With those two words come limitless applications.

But limitless applications result in limited significance. When the response is scripted, a person has only to regurgitate what they’ve said thousands of times before. No thought, no care or meaning goes into these words.

So Rule No. 1 for giving thanks is quite simple: Be authentic.

  • Take a moment before responding to someone’s kindness to truly internalize what has been done for you and why you appreciate it. Allow your words to reflect your feelings by using specific language — the difference between a generic “thank you!” and a more heartfelt “thank you so much for ____, it really made me feel ____” is huge.
  • Go beyond words and show your appreciation — by returning the favor, sending a thoughtful gift, or just a big hug. Unless a hug would be weird, in which case, don’t be weird.
  • However you’re giving thanks, make sure it feels like you. It shouldn’t feel forced or unnatural — and if it does, that’s probably a sign that you could be doing it differently.

This month, we have Thanksgiving to hit us over the head with a plateful of turkey and remind us that we should be feeling thankful. But Thanksgiving is just one Thursday in November and thankfulness is a mindset that shouldn’t shift with the season. Every day is a good day to feel thankful for the good in your life. And every day is a good day to express those thanks to the people who’ve earned it — authentically.

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