Polite or Truly Grateful

We use the word "thanks" often, but is it a genuine response that is rooted in a spirit of thankfulness? Adam Tarnow gives us three ways to develop true gratitude.

I think I broke my Outlook.

I went into the sent folder in my email and typed the word "thanks" into the search bar. The results were astonishing.

The search results found one thousand emails where I used the word "thanks." That's not an exaggeration. That is the actual number it found. One. Thousand.

What I found strange, however, is that it only brought me emails dating back to February 8, 2023. Meaning it didn't even search all my sent emails!

That's why I think I broke my Outlook. 

Outlook got tired and said, "Listen, dude, you can't possibly be looking for something among these one thousand emails. You use this word a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Why don't you narrow down your search a bit? Okay?"

I'm convicted by this because even though I say "thanks" a lot, it doesn't mean I'm living out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

I use this word to be polite, which is fine. That's certainly better than not being polite. (Right, mom?!?)

But what I really want is a heart filled with gratitude. That aligns more with Paul's encouragement to "give thanks in all circumstances." That is God's will for me.

How can I move from a desire to be polite to a genuinely grateful heart? It takes some practice, but I know it can happen.

Last fall, my good friend David Morrison and I published The Edge: How to Stand Out by Showing You're All In. The book was written for young emerging leaders.

My favorite chapter is one I didn't write. It's one David wrote. The chapter is titled Gratitude.

In that chapter, David offers three suggestions that are spot on. Simple ways we can move from a heart that is polite to one that is truly grateful.

First, make and keep a list. Take a few minutes and write down your answer to two questions. The first question is: what about your life is going right? The second question is: who has helped me become who I am today?

I know this seems elementary, but there is something magical about creating these lists. Do it and watch what happens to your heart.

Second, communicate your gratitude even before you feel it. I've rarely regretted sharing gratitude. To me, expressing gratitude is one of those rare instances where the outside behavior can change my interior demeanor. The more I communicate my gratitude, the more I feel grateful. Which leads to David's third idea.

Third, communicate gratitude as often as possible. David wouldn't fault me for my overuse of the word "thanks" in my emails. He would tell me that's better than the alternative because unspoken gratitude communicates a lack of gratitude.

We all have things we're grateful for, no matter how small. A heart that "gives thanks in all circumstances" doesn't happen overnight. Our hearts don't suddenly become grateful; we train them to "give thanks in all circumstances."



Adam lives in Dallas, TX with his wife and two sons. Professionally, Adam is a leadership development consultant. He has also been the host of The BetterMan Podcast since 2020. You can connect with Adam at AdamTarnow.com.