Updated: May 29
One big mistake we make in our relationships is assuming the other person already knows how grateful we are for the actions they take to help us. But passing up the opportunity to express that gratitude can actually send the wrong signal! Practicing gratitude can actually help change your life (and your relationships). Here’s how to get good at communicating how much you appreciate everything from the small gestures to the big moments.
1. Say it out loud
It is the quickest and no cost way to say "thank you". Is a quick “thank you” text a good idea? Sure. But a friend hearing your voice is going to be ten times more impactful. Studies show that we build intimacy with others via the inflections that the written word alone can’t capture: the tone of our voice, the emotion they can hear behind it, the immediacy of spoken communication. So if you can, say it in person. If you can’t, send a voice note instead of a text. You’d be surprised how many people keep them to replay afterwards.
2. Write a thank you note
Okay, Mom wasn’t all wrong. Especially if you’re saying thank you to someone from an older generation (say, Gen
X and above) a written note can go a long way. And the “why” makes sense: it’s an indication that you took the time not just to feel grateful, but to hunt down the card, stamps, and pen you needed to express it. The key to success here: be specific about what you're thanking the person for, and tell them how it’s impacted you. There’s nothing wrong with a note that says “thanks for the vinyl record!” But telling the recipient that you play it during dance parties with your toddler every weekend morning, and that you think of them each time, is going to elicit a far more powerful sense of connection. With Present, you can choose a card and we'll handwrite, stamp, and send it for you.
3. It’s never too late
Yes, etiquette dictates that you should send thank you notes swiftly after the gift/party/whatever it is you’re thanking someone for. But! The real world isn’t run by Emily Post, and no one is sitting around counting the days in which they haven’t received an expression of gratitude. When you think of it, do it. Don’t get caught up in a cycle of not reaching out to people who matter, and telling them how they’ve impacted your life, just because it seems like too much time has passed for it to be socially appropriate. Anyone with whom you have a relationship worth building will always be happy to hear from you and grateful that you took the time to reach out.
4. Give a gift
Sometimes people really pull out all the stops: they host an incredible baby shower for you, or dive in to save a work presentation when you truly need their help. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words and a gift can cover those emotions of gratitude for you. The trick is to make sure that it’s something they'll like and is timely. The gift should acknowledge who the recipient is and what they did for you, or it can be something you like that you'd like to share with them. Having a story around your choice always helps. Need help with ideas? Check out Present for curated gift ideas.
Why is saying "thank you" so crucial?
Good manners are nice, but the real reason to work on your gratitude practice is to improve your health. According to a study by the University of California, expressing gratitude can improve sleep, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. It’s also one of the fastest ways to build stronger relationships, which are the bedrock of our mental, emotional, and physical health.
The best part is: it only takes a minute to reach out and thank someone for making your life better. So, who are you going to start with today?