3 Simple Tricks to Make Thank-Yous Memorable

Make someone's day by including these three ingredients in a thank-you.

Posted Jan 25, 2016

One librarian was out filing books when she received this letter from a parent.

"Thanks for being a terrific librarian. You are so animated and energetic at story time. Attending is one of our favorite ways to break up the winter doldrums. You are really creative and always sharing new finger plays (our son sings that Hickory Dickory Dock one all day!) After seeing the way our kids cut loose at story time, we were inspired us to play a lot more music for them. Thanks, also, for helping my kids find everything they need. You are so patient and always showing them a new series or going that extra step to order their favorites from other libraries. We are grateful for your assistance and your kindness. P.S. I sent a copy of this letter to the library manager. We also donated the book "How Kind!" to the children's hospital in your name."

No doubt the librarian felt great reading this. What's also amazing is that the simple act of writing a thank you letter has been found to result a huge increase in happiness for the person who wrote it, with the benefits lasting for over a month. 

Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone. ~Gertrude Stein

Here are three ways to make your thank-yous even more memorable.

Provide details.

Instead of saying, “thanks for being a great boss,” say, “Thanks for noticing what I do well, bringing passion to our goals, and keeping meetings so productive. Instead of scribbling, “thanks for being a great teacher,” say, “thanks for showing my first-grader those special rhymes to write his numbers and teaching him those hilarious grammar songs.”

Get creative.

Write thank you notes, texts, emails, and post-it notes. Start a thank you journal. Write a thank you rhyme or rap. Make a thank you tree with details of kindnesses on the leaves. Bake thank you muffins. Give thank you hugs. Send a photo of yourself holding up a thank you sign. Make a thank you video or voice memo recording. Frame a quote about how their kind act helped you. Make a thank you cake. When you get creative with the way you express gratitude, it shows that you put effort and care into the process.

Give back.

When you say thank you, think about what you can give back- to the person or the world. If you thank your friend for babysitting your kids, give them a coupon saying you’ll babysit theirs. If you thank your partner for cleaning the gutters, pull the weeds. If you thank your favorite grocery store clerk for being the fastest and friendliest checker-outer, write a glowing letter to his manager. 

Spending time thanking others is a great way to practice active gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Creative thank-yous are one powerful means to notice, pause on, and reinforce the positives that hide in the crevices of your life.

Copyright Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD

Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD, author of Joy Fixes for Weary Parents (2017), is a psychotherapist for individuals and couples in Chicago's western suburbs. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, read her blog at www.thejoyfix.com, or sign up for email updates at www.erinleyba.com