As kids we were taught to say ‘thank you’, and were often praised when we were polite enough to remember it. But, at some point in our maturing, ‘thank you’ loses its power. Saying it becomes more like saying “I recognize what you’ve done for me” rather than true gratitude for what they did.
How does one express gratitude when ‘thank you’ isn’t enough?
Often this is fixed when we accompany the ‘thank you’ with a hug or a kiss or a tear. But what if what they did deserves more? Whether it’s a friend, a partner, a parent, a stranger, a teacher, a family member or anyone who either literally or figuratively saved our lives, how can you express this without sounding trivial? A song, poem, or card is too mushy for the seriousness of the situation and will always feel exaggerated, it says too much. A gift or money is impersonal and doesn’t say enough.
How do you express gratitude to something that unknowingly changed you? A unbalanced gift given through a piece of art, a book, a movie, a song, or anything that inspired and changed you. A blossoming thank you can only be seen in mimicking tattoos, emphatic recommendations to check it out and purchasing the artists’ other works as well, but it doesn’t really feel like sufficient thanks.
How do you express gratitude to a deity or to the universe? You attend ceremonies, practice rituals, and observe holidays. You take care of the world around you and give back to your community. You pray and meditate on all the world has bestowed upon you- randomly or not. Yet, there is still a fear here that this, too, does not measure up to the gratitude that’s owed for the gift of life, health, or good fortune.
How does one express gratitude when ‘thank you’ isn’t enough? By deciding to live on purpose. By consistently making choices to assure you live purposefully, happily, and progressively. Our loved ones give so much of themselves so that we may be better, stronger and happier people. The best thing we can do is be this person for them. Books, music, and all inspiring forms of art are created so others can be touched by its message and change our view of the world. The best we can do is take on the message in our lives until it creates a change in society. The universe, ruled by whatever deity you believe in, truly just wants humanity to thrive among its creations and appreciate our world by actively taking advantage of all it has to offer.
The best way to show gratitude to anyone or anything, is to take the lessons and gifts they’ve given us, even if it’s as simple and essential as our lives, and use that appreciation to ignite action in our lives by making choices that make ourselves and our world better. Do great things with joyful resolve, and then let them know how they have inspired you. Then they will feel your gratitude.
As a result, understanding, soaking up, and yearning to express this gratitude becomes not only important for those we thank, but for ourselves. So, why not say thank you every day when you wake up, every night before you drift off to sleep, and in all of your life’s decisions? Actions speak louder than words. Live your gratitude.
Gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. We can look at our lives and believe we don’t have enough or that others have more. This creates a layer of unhappiness and discontent in our lives. But if we truly get grateful for all of the great things we have (house, car, family, friends, etc), we will get to experience happiness in our lives. There are always other people that have it worse than us but most people don’t focus on that, they look at the people that have it “better” than us. This is a recipe for unhappiness and not feeling good enough. A great practice for gratitude is to look for at least 5 new things to be grateful for everyday. As you do this over time you will start to get present to all of the amazing things you have in your life. It is always our choice to focus on lack and scarcity, or the abundance we currently have in our lives. Which do you want to choose?

Marty and Caroline, Life Circles