There are three phrases in the English language that are more powerful than all others. I have already written about two of them. The first is “I’m sorry.” These two words can save relationships, mend broken hearts, and completely change the emotional atmosphere of a room, when delivered correctly. The second powerful phrase is “I love you.” These are probably the most influential words you can string together, and if said in the right way at the right time, they can communicate exactly how much you care for someone in a way that you couldn’t do even with 1,000 other words. Not too bad for three little words. The third phase, which I am going to discuss today, is “Thank you.” This two word combination also can carry an enormous amount of emotional content when said properly, and it can go a long way in helping you build strong relationships and communicate how you feel. Despite its power though, it is often uttered without the proper thought, as an afterthought, or worse yet, not spoken at all.
For the entirety of my 27 plus years on this planet, I have had to ask for assistance and rely on others in order to do anything. This reliance on the help of those around me has given me countless opportunities to voice my gratitude by saying “thank you.” Having more chances to convey my thanks to people, helped me to realize the power and importance of these two words faster than most. Like any young child though, it took me a while to understand how much this phrase means to people and make it a permanent fixture in my daily speech. My parents were undoubtedly a big part of this process, as they were always preaching the importance of saying “thank you” to my siblings and I anytime we were given a gift or received a favor from someone. While this was excellent parenting and was definitely influential, it was actually my sister who played the biggest role in instilling this crucial life skill into me.
When I was around 11 years old or so, my sister, Stephanie, was finally old enough that my parents were comfortable leaving her in charge of my brother and I while they went to run errands or go out for a few hours. Up to this point in my life, I would say “thank you” about as much as any child my age, and when I did so it was mostly out of obligation or habit without any thought. While my parents and family friends would remind me to say thanks just like they would with any kid, for whatever reason, Stephanie was hell bent on branding this phrase into my brain. Not only the act of voicing my appreciation, but also doing so with sincerity and thought. When she would babysit, she would only complete whatever task I needed help with if I gave her a sincere, heartfelt “thank you.” I won’t lie, I was not a fan of this arrangement at first, and I fought it on several occasions by simply refusing to say it, which meant that I would have to do without whatever it was I had wanted. Fortunately though, she is just as stubborn as I am, and after several fights and occasions where I went without things I wanted, I realized that saying “thank you” really was not so bad. Also, I finally saw that compared to everything I asked her (and everyone else) to do for me, saying “thank you” was a small price to pay. Voicing my gratitude also meant that I would get what I wanted, which brought me happiness, and more importantly it would give her what she wanted and bring her happiness. This realization that saying these two words with the proper thought and feeling would bring happiness to both of us is what finally made me understand the power and utility of saying “thank you.”
As grateful as I am that I was taught the importance and value of showing my gratitude, and as much as it has helped me throughout my life, I didn’t completely understand the emotional impact of these two words until much more recently. Shortly after I started Roll Models, I received an email from an old acquaintance about one of my blog posts. He shared with me how he had always thought of me and the way I live as an example to be followed in order to achieve a happy, fulfilling life. He said that he had been going through a very difficult period in his life recently, and that reading my posts had helped him to put things in perspective. He then went on to thank me for inspiring him to be a better man. I don’t have the words to express how great this made me feel. Having someone who I had only met a handful of times years ago thank me in such a sincere, meaningful way gave me a euphoric high like I had never felt before (and I have tried every narcotic there is). This simple phase accurately conveyed to me the incredible emotional impact I had made on him. Since this time, I have had several other people come up to me after my Roll Models talks and thank me for sharing my story. The way they look at me and say those words creates a momentary bond between us filled with love and appreciation. It is only after feeling this connection and being on the receiving end of this phrase that I now completely grasp the nature and power of these words.
It is simply amazing to me the amount of emotion, appreciation, and feeling that can be carried by these two little words. Saying “thank you” can change a task that was done out of obligation and necessity into one done out of love and respect. It can completely alter the way we feel about a job, even though the job itself is exactly the same. Despite the incredible impact this phrase can have in improving someone’s life, we all too often forget to say it or choose not to, even though it costs us nothing and can bring us so much. When was the last time you took a moment to look someone in the eye, create a connection, and give them a sincere, heartfelt “thank you?” Make it a point everyday to thank at least one person in a meaningful way. This can be done in person, by email, or even a text message, and it only takes a minute, but it will mean a lot to the people in your life. The more you say it and as it becomes more natural, you will begin to see the positive impact it has on not only their lives, but yours as well. You will be amazed at the amount of difference you will experience in your relationships and in your level of happiness. That’s a not so bad for just two little words.