Thankful: The most powerful words in any language

Asking for praise is something that a lot of us find really hard.


Because doing that is showing the other person where you’re vulnerable. It’s offering up critical data about yourself by revealing your insecurities.

And this desire for praise makes us treat our nearest and dearest like deadly enemies.

If you do ask someone you love, “Could you appreciate/notice this about me?”, you’re putting yourself at risk.

You’re giving the other person power over you because with that information they can do three things: neglect you and your need, abuse it by using it to hurt you, or they could meet your need.

And it’s the risk of those first two that makes it difficult to ask for the kind of praise you need.

So, what to do? One: start saying thank you more often.

Just start cultivating simple thanks for things that people do for or with you.

Even when people do things they’re supposed to do, like your kids cleaning their rooms, say thank you!

We’re so busy rushing through life that we rarely stop to really appreciate the effort that goes into things.

Saying thank you is no skin off your back but will really strengthen your relationships and make people value you more in return!

Two: create a connection with your gratitude.

When you start saying thank you more, don’t just toss it out like brushing crumbs off your t-shirt. Take a moment to make eye contact and say thank you.

And genuinely mean it!

That little moment of connection is so important for your humanity and happiness. And not just your humanity, theirs too!

Because when you’re busy treating other people like vending machines, you’re not experiencing your own humanity either.

So, say thank you to the barista that makes your morning coffee. Take a moment to look them in the eye and say thank you.

It’ll make their day! Because baristas deal with people in a very dangerous state: pre-caffeinated. And they get yelled at, complained to and put down a lot.

And what’s more; consider removing your headphones (if you’ve got ’em in), smile and offer a sincere compliment!

Three: find the meaningful moments.

Researchers say that gratitude is about taking a moment and holding on to it as long as possible.

So, take the moments in which you experience something – taste something, feel something, see something, feel something – and savour them.

Pause in your constant motion and pay attention to the details – the sweetness, the tartness, the light, the colour.

Don’t let life go by in one big blur, as it does way too often.

Four: give more compliments.

Ever since Dale Carnegie wrote about winning friends and influencing people, we’ve appreciated the power of a simple compliment.

Who doesn’t love a compliment, right? But it does have to be sincere. People see right through ass-kissing.

So, I encourage you to start giving sincere compliments.

If you don’t know the other person very well (or maybe ya just don’t like ’em that much) think of SOMETHING you can be grateful for in your interaction. Anything that you can honestly say, “Hey, thank you for _______”, and genuinely mean it.

Sometimes it can be as easy as getting more specific about what you’re saying thank you for.

Instead of a simple ‘thank you’ when they open the door for you, go with “Thank you, Annie, for opening the door for me”.

Five: ask what kind of praise someone wants.

Bit obvious, yeah. But like I said at the start, asking for specific praise can be challenging.

So, instead of waiting for people to figure it out on their own, offer it to them on a platter and ask them what they’d like to receive praise for.

And if they can’t think of anything (hardly ever an issue), go back to tip #1 from the beginning and start thanking people for things they do that they already do or are supposed to do.

You can thank people for a lot of things, like:

  • being a good friend being a good parent/sibling/child
  • being there for you
  • showing up in your life
  • taking out the trash
  • thinking of you
  • doing something small for you etc.

Honestly, your imagination is the only limit. The more you apply these tips in your life, the deeper and more rewarding your relationships will become.


Pick a person who’s important to you. Write five sentences about how you’re grateful for them.

Optional (but highly recommended, if possible): share what you wrote with them – if you’re feeling really brave you can read what you wrote to them!