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  • Writer's pictureKen Clark

Other Ways to Say Thank You

You don’t have to actually say “thank you” to let someone know how thankful you are for them. The words themselves are nothing more than a placeholder for a feeling and realization about the value of someone else to our world. The words themselves are not what makes someone feel special when they hear it. Likewise, hearing words without hearing the heart behind them makes it no more special than the “thank you” we see printed on the bottom of our ATM receipt.

Our gratitude gets richer, deeper and more beautifully complex as we learn to use different words to describe how we feel about the people who have played crucial roles in our life. Like an artist who learns to branch out and use different colors and techniques, the human heart that learns to work with other expressions of gratitude can paint pictures of worth for people in new and vibrant ways.

When you pull out your Webster’s thesaurus, you’ll find more than 100 words and phrases that are synonymous for the word gratitude and other words like appreciation, thankfulness, etc. Like spices yet to be discovered by a new chef, these words can bring out the nuances in what we feel towards someone, about their loyalty to us or the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf. By learning to consider and use these words, we empower ourselves to feel and understand more gratitude than ever before. We begin to notice it in places we didn’t see it yesterday. We communicate in ways that are ever more powerful.

Enjoyment Above All Else

As a therapist and armchair philosopher, one of the things I believe, above all else, is to be loved without being liked means you’re being tolerated. In other words, if people love us but don’t enjoy us, then they are essentially putting up with someone they’d normally discard because of some deeper sense of commitment. While we can admire the beauty of that level of loyalty, it’s also incredibly uncomfortable for most of us to imagine being the thing that someone has to put up with.

When we know that someone enjoys us and has decided that the party just isn’t a party without us, it feels like nothing else. To not just be included in someone else’s life (which can happen because of the obligation of being family, coworkers or people of faith), but to actually be missed if we don’t show up, is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s enough to mute the voices in our head, keep us fighting through the hard stuff and inspire us to create a better world.

Saying “thank you” by telling someone that you’re glad they’re part of your life or that life is more enjoyable with them as part of it is so much more powerful than just saying “thank you.” Telling them that you love how funny, creative or caring they are will resonate so much deeper than the “I love you” that so many of us routinely say as we walk out the door for the day.

Challenge yourself to say thank you more than ever, while using the phrase itself less and less. Find new ways to declare your enjoyment of people and their necessity in your world with adjectives, verbs and analogies. Help them to know exactly what it is that makes them enjoyable and what unique shade of thankful you feel, and you will be painting pictures of worth that will hang in their hearts the rest of their lives.

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