The Powerfully Transformative Habit of Saying Thank You

Our habits determine the quality of our lives and relationships.

Habits those actions we consistently repeat without giving it any additional thought. According to a study conducted by Duke University, 45% of daily actions are habits that are repeated in the same location every day. For example, your morning routine. You can probably identify certain things you do every day, making each day repeat the day before.

The benefit of habits is that they don’t require any of our limited decision-making capacity. It’s estimated that the average adult makes up to 35,000 decisions a day. Anything over that and we start to lose our ability to make the best choices due to decision fatigue. When we reach the point of fatigue, we often choose what’s easiest over what’s best. That’s why I never make any important decisions at the end of the day.

Forming a habit of saying thank-you will enable you to do it without thinking about it, reaping the many benefits of a grateful attitude.

Why is saying thank you so crucial for the person saying it?

Thank-you is an expression of gratitude. The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grateful, gracious, and gratefulness. Grateful people experience a broad spectrum of health benefits, including mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

“Research suggests that individuals who are grateful in their daily lives report fewer stress-related health symptoms, including headaches, stomach issues, chest pain, muscle aches, and appetite problems,” says Sheela Raja, Ph.D., an assistant professor and clinical psychologist in the Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Various studies show that additional benefits include enhanced empathy, reduced aggression, better sleep, improved self-esteem, and more robust mental toughness.

Saying thank-you also deepens personal connections in current relationships, while providing opportunities to develop new relationships. When you regularly say thank-you, people trust you, you’re more approachable, and appear nicer, building your social capital.

“Research has shown that grateful feelings enable people to savor positive experiences, cope with stress, and strengthen social relationships. A disposition toward gratitude is also associated with higher levels of subjective well-being, demonstrating that counting one’s blessings can increase positive emotions and health.” ~ Francis Flynn, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford.

It’s clear that a habit of saying thank-you will transform you, mentally, emotionally, physically, and relationally into a better person.

Why is saying thank-you is so essential to the one being thanked?

When someone takes the time to thank another, it makes the beneficiary feel valued and appreciated. We all want that feeling.

The opposite of feeling valued and appreciated is feeling devalued and diminished. Not only do we not want to feel that way, but we also shouldn’t want to make anyone else feel that way either.

When we don’t feel appreciated, we hold back in the future. This is true in both personal and professional settings.

Being appreciated is a motivator. When we feel appreciated, we do more than is expected. We willingly go above and beyond. Appreciation resonates with us at an emotional level triggering our brain’s reward system, making us feel good. We respond to the reward and work to get more of those positive feelings by doing more.

Saying thank-you and an attitude of gratefulness is contagious. We have a habit in our home of thanking the person who prepared dinner for us. When one person says thank-you, everyone else chimes in, followed by a compliment about the food or some other form of appreciation for something that someone has done for us.

How to cultivate the habit of saying thank you? Start with those closest to you and begin at home. Whenever someone does something that affects you positively, say thank-you. Whether they were merely doing what they should have done anyway or not, say thank-you.

Then move to say thank-you to your next level of relationships, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. And continue moving out from there in concentric to contiguous circles.

To seriously make it a habit, keep track of the days you say thank-you. I have used blank calendars I found online to keep track of my progress, checking off to accomplish my goal each day. The key is not to break the string of consecutive days that you perform the activity.

Write down something that you’re thankful for every single day.

Make your thank-yous count

Personalize your thank-you. It’s most important to thank people individually. You can use a variety of methods depending on what you’re thanking them for. Handwritten notes are rarer these days, which also makes them more special.

Additional methods of saying thank-you include text, email, and verbally. Decide the method that best fits the occasion. Don’t expect to receive a handwritten note when you make dinner on a Tuesday. But if you have purchased a wedding gift, a written note is appropriate.

Personalize the note and be specific about what you appreciate so it doesn’t give a “mass-produced” feeling.


The habit of saying thank-you is powerfully transformative. The benefits of gratitude encompass your physical, mental, emotional, and relational well-being. It’s one of the easiest and healthiest habits you can cultivate that will change your life.

Individuals often withhold help because they are uncertain about whether beneficiaries will appreciate their assistance. Expressions of gratitude can signify that a beneficiary values, needs, and accepts one’s assistance.” Francis Flynn, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford

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