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Why Expressing Gratitude Matters

Geri McClymont believes that people matter and that a life well lived is a life lived in service to others.

Expressing gratitude is always in style.

Many of us have been the recipients of others' acts of thoughtfulness. Perhaps we have received a tangible gift, or somebody walked beside us through a difficult time in our lives. Beyond simply feeling thankful to those who think of us, it's important to let them know that we appreciate them.


Why Does Expressing Gratitude Matter?

Most people who give don't expect anything in return, including expressions of gratitude. They give because they want the recipient to feel valued and special. Many truly believe that "it is more blessed to give than to receive."

So why does expressing gratitude matter?

Everyone needs to feel appreciated. Gratitude is actually a form of encouragement, and we all need encouragement.

Why Do We Fail to Express Our Gratitude to Others?

We all know how nice it feels when somebody thanks us for a card we sent, a gift we gave, or for offering our support or lending a helping hand. So why do we often fail to express our gratitude to others when we are the recipients of these same acts of kindness?

Here are some excuses we use:

  • We “forget.”
  • We say we don’t have time.
  • We don’t think it matters.
Perhaps we subconsciously believe we deserve to receive gifts.

Perhaps we subconsciously believe we deserve to receive gifts.

Perhaps we subconsciously believe we deserve to receive gifts. We may be reluctant to acknowledge this or even offended by the idea, but we live in an age of entitlement in which we're conditioned to believe we “deserve” to feel happy and therefore deserve to have anything that will make us feel happy.

We need to realize that nobody owes us anything. Even our parents aren't obligated to support us after we turn eighteen!

Often we overlook the sacrifice behind the gift. We don’t see the time, effort and monetary investment on behalf of the giver.

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.

— Randy Pausch

It's important to express gratitude to others.

It's important to express gratitude to others.

When Expressing Gratitude, Be Specific

Let the giver know specifically why you appreciated his thoughtfulness. This makes him feel valued for the time and effort he invested in you.


For a card you receive:

Thank you for the funny birthday card you sent me. It made me smile and lifted my spirits after a very stressful day! Thank you for remembering me on my birthday.

The expression of gratitude above describes the card as funny (thus validating the giver’s choice of a card for you). It also specifies how the card made you feel when you received it (thus validating the giver’s thoughtfulness in sending it to you).

For a gift you receive:

Thank you for the gorgeous scarf. The colors are so rich and vibrant. I can’t wait to wear it this winter! Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.

This expression of gratitude describes the scarf as gorgeous (thus indicating that you like it), the colors as rich and vibrant (demonstrating that you notice the color scheme on the scarf), and that you can’t wait to wear it this winter (indicating that you are excited about adding it to your winter wardrobe).

Let the giver know you appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Let the giver know you appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Notice the difference between the two thank you notes below. Which note would you prefer to receive from Kathryn for a mystery book you gave her?

The first thank you note:

Dear Jack,

Thank you for the gift you sent me. It is nice and I appreciate it.

Thank you again,



How does this message make you feel? This note is basically an acknowledgement that the gift was received. The message sounds forced, though polite, like a note your mother made you write for a gift you received but didn’t like when you were a child.

Now, the second thank you note:

Dear Jack,

Thank you for the novel you sent me. It looks so intriguing and, as you know, I love mysteries! I look forward to reading it soon!

Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.



How does this message make you feel? This thank you message is clearly more detailed as it describes the type of gift received as well as why it is appreciated. Furthermore, it expresses enthusiasm about enjoying the gift.

Develop the habit of expressing gratitude!

Develop the habit of expressing gratitude!

Begin the Habit of Expressing Gratitude

Gratitude is an art that needs to be developed. The art of expressing gratitude should be cultivated at a young age. But even if we weren't taught or encouraged to express gratitude when we were growing up, we can still develop the habit now and teach our children to do the same.

Like any other habit, the hardest part is starting.

Make it a habit to thank the giver whenever you receive something. For a card, thank the sender with an email message or a phone call. For gifts or special support, send a hand-written note. Personalize the note by including details about the gift or service and why it meant so much to you.

Keep the sacrifice in mind. Whenever anybody takes the time to give you something, be it their time, support, or a tangible gift, consider the sacrifice behind the gift. Remember that the gift was an investment on their behalf and that they were not obligated to offer this gift to you. They had the option to invest their time or money in other things, but they chose to invest it in you.

Consider the joy the gift has brought you. When somebody thinks of us, we feel valued and special. This alone should motivate us to extend our thanks to the giver!

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.

— Meister Eckhart

Final Thoughts

It matters that we express our gratitude to others because people matter. We all need encouragement, and expressing our appreciation to others for their thoughtfulness towards us is a meaningful way to encourage them.

And when others don’t express their gratitude to us, we can remember that there have likely been countless times in our lives when we did the same.

© 2015 Geri McClymont


Geri McClymont (author) on January 03, 2018:

So true, Mary. We often take for granted those who are always there for us. Thank you for the gracious reminder.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 02, 2018:

Some people just have the knack of expressing gratitude in gracious ways. I think that at times we take saying thank you for granted especially when it's family who gave us something.

Geri McClymont (author) on February 13, 2016:

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Marlene. When I was younger, I sometimes took gifts for granted, but now I want to express my appreciation to people for their thoughtfulness and, like you, like to send hand-written notes of thanks.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 10, 2016:

In and of itself, gratitude is a very special gift. I am always very thankful when someone gives me a gift and so it is always my pleasure to write hand-written thank you notes. I like your explanation of the differences between a bribe and a gift of gratitude. It really makes a difference when we give without expectation.

RTalloni on January 16, 2016:

We can't promote having a spirit of gratitude enough. Thank you for doing that!

Geri McClymont (author) on December 09, 2015:

Thank you for your comment, Ruby. I think we all take each other for granted sometimes. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 09, 2015:

Hello Geri. Your hub is a great reminder to express our gratitude when we are given a gift or when someone reads our hubs. I know I appreciate a thank you note or a phone call when I've done something nice for someone. Thoughtful hub. Thank you.

Geri McClymont (author) on December 02, 2015:

Thank you for your note, Gloria. I agree that making a phone call after attending a party or other social event you've been invited to is another special way to express appreciation. And I should not like a bribe for myself either. :)

Geri McClymont (author) on November 29, 2015:

Thank you, word55. It is so important to appreciate others. I will have to read your hub!

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on November 29, 2015:

Hi G, this hub was amazing. I did a hub on thankfulness recently as well. We're on the same page. Thank you for such an outstanding hub about appreciation.

Geri McClymont (author) on November 26, 2015:

Thank you for your encouraging words, MsDora. I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed too!

Gloria Padrós de Henning on November 26, 2015:

I really enjoyed reading your article, Geri. Thankfullness is very often forgoten, or we take it for granted that the one who gave us a present or a gift, should know that we are thankfull. It is very important the article because it teaches the new generations this valuable habits that nowadasy are so much forgoten.

It's very graphic how you consider the difference between a gift and a bribe. I must confess I didn't know the word's meaning. I shouldn't like a bribe for myself.

It's also valuable when you are invited to a meetting, party, informal visit, etc., to make a phone call the day after to tell something nice about the meeting. It will be much appreciated by your friend or group.

I encourage you to go on with these kind of articles. Congratulations and may god bless you.

It's important too, when

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 26, 2015:

Geri, we can all do with these reminders. Thank you. So many times we give expecting to get; you said it well, "If you feel blessed in the mere act of giving, that is a good sign . . ." Hope your Thanksgiving was a great event.