How the Power of “Thank You” Can Make You Happier
In what situations do you use the words, “Thank you?” Is it when you receive a wrapped present? Or maybe when someone does something nice for you that you didn’t expect? “Honey! Wow! Thanks so much for taking out the garbage.” It’s usually easy to say “Thank you” during these times, but there are other ways this phrase can be very helpful AND make your life easier and happier.
How about when your coworker (or kid) finishes a task (or chore) that you expect them to do? After all, they were supposed to finish that report by today (or put their dirty plate in the sink)! But the meaning behind “Thank you” can also be, I see you. I appreciate what you do. Often, just having someone notice us and our work makes us feel good and fills our bucket. It’s also a great way to increase our positivity ratio and strengthen our relationship.
But here’s the real trick that I’m working on . . . Saying “Thank you” when what I really want to do is get defensive! Maybe it’s when someone corrects me, gives me advice I don’t want, or criticizes me. I feel my emotions rising up and I know that whatever I say is only going to make things worse.
I have to laugh at the opportunities life gives me to practice this. Like when my husband asks me three times if I locked the door, as if I didn’t hear him the first time. Or when my daughter disagrees with the way I handled a situation and I feel attacked. In the moment, I have a strong reaction to snap back. But when I can pause, notice, and choose to say a simple “Thank you,” I create a very different (and much better) outcome.
This short phrase diffuses my emotions and creates space that gives me time to consider how I want to respond. What would my best-self do and say? What would make the situation better? Maybe it’s adding a comment like, “That’s an interesting point.” Or, “I’ll have to think about that more.” Or maybe it’s not saying anything more.
Be on the lookout this week and see if your life gives you any opportunities to try this approach.