The two most powerful words you can say in life aren’t what you’d expect.

It’s not “love you” or “I’m sorry”—though those are quite commanding as well. It’s not “me too”—although that is affirming and potent in its own right.

The most impactful thing you can ever say is “thank you.” Yes, really.

Saying “thank you” is a compelling way to wipe the slate clean. Saying “thank you” is a 2-for-1 gift of gratitude and forgiveness all wrapped in one. Saying “thank you” is the turning point between letting go of what’s happened and embracing what’s to come.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of giving thanks a lot lately. With Thanksgiving fast approaching this week, it’s top of mind for everyone across the U.S. But beyond that, the idea of being thankful seems to be slapping me over the head this year.

Ariana Grande’s new song, “thank u, next,” in which she expresses gratitude for her ex boyfriends, actually broke streaming records. Truthfully, I love the song. Some of my friends have even told me that if I were a song, I’d be that one. Ha!

I also received a handwritten note in the mail from a Verizon Fios agent thanking me for being a loyal customer. As someone who has been unsure about continuing with the service, that note went a long way.

On top of that, a Delta flight attendant came up to me on a recent flight from London to New York to thank me for being a frequent flier on the airline. It caught me off guard, but I appreciated the acknowledgement nonetheless.

And, last but not least, the guy who sold me my new iPhone at the AT&T Store actually called me and left me a voicemail a couple of weeks after the purchase to say thanks and check in on how everything’s going with my new phone. The voicemail was long and slightly awkward, but I appreciated the intention behind it.

As you can see, there’s been an abundance of receiving thanks in my life recently. And I’m so glad that’s the case. But I’ve also been giving thanks of my own. After the death of my middle sister this summer and a bit of a brutal breakup earlier this fall, I’ve finally become grateful for what both of those painful situations taught me. And I’ve rediscovered my peace in the process.

Below, I share three primary reasons why saying “thank you” is impactful and important in your life. Because the simple things are usually the most significant—and life changing. And there’s always room for a little more gratitude in your heart.

1. Saying “thank you” is the ultimate way to reaffirm yourself.

Perhaps the biggest reason why saying thanks is extremely powerful is that it is an acknowledgement that you have grown. Even if you might not have enjoyed the process of getting to where you are, it is a hat tip to the role it played in helping to shape you into who you’ve become. “Thank you” says, “I’m happy just the way I am and exactly with how things turned out.” “Thank you” is a form of vulnerability that drives out and defeats shame.

Saying “thank you” suddenly transforms grief into growth and pain into perspective. Being thankful for what you’ve endured brings you into the present moment and helps you remain grateful for where you’ve landed on the other side.

“Thank you,” then, is a form of self-love—a wave of compassion sent back inward that recognizes the strength it took to overcome the hardships and challenges to get to where you are today. Brick by brick you’ve built a more formidable foundation from which you can appreciate your past and embrace the future. And that House of Strength was built with little bricks of appreciation that say, “thank you.”

2. Saying “thank you” shows that you appreciate and respect what connects all things.

Whether it’s to the kind cashier at the grocery store, your nightmare former boss or an ex whom you truly loved—”thank you” shows that you recognize the value of a situation or a person in your life. It is a tremendous display of respect because it shows you appreciate that person’s presence. Thus, the expression of “thank you” in this context is ultimately a realization of the oneness of all things. You dignifying another person in this way is also a way to dignify yourself—to become conscious that we are all one in the same.

It’s also an incredibly empowering nod to something bigger, bolder and grander than you could ever imagine. Because it shows that you understand there are forces at play that are beyond your control but that you find beautiful nonetheless.

And that force of appreciation can turn any situation into a positive one.

3. Saying “thank you” opens up a door of possibility.

There’s no truer form of acceptance than saying “thank you.” Being thankful—and truly meaning it—is a shift in energy that attracts new and exciting things into your life because it signals that you’re ready to receive them. Gratitude opens up little doors in your heart that you previously kept locked. And when those doors unlock and open, it’s possible for you to pick and choose your own adventure. It’s possible to start over. It’s possible to pursue any direction your heart can imagine.

“Thank you” is the key to unlocking your true potential. All you have to do is recognize that you’ve had the power within you all along.

How has saying “thank you” served you in the past? What are you especially thankful for this year? Share your story in the comments below—or Tweet me @crackliffe.


  • Chris Rackliffe

    Author and Storyteller

    Chris Rackliffe, or @crackliffe, as he is fondly known by friends and colleagues, is an award-winning storyteller, motivator and marketer who has driven over one billion clicks and over six billion interactions as head of social media for some of the biggest magazines in the world, including Entertainment Weekly, Men’s Health, PEOPLE and more. With a B.S. in Advertising and Psychology from the University of Miami—and a Ph.D. in the School of Life—Chris tells first-person stories that cut straight to the heart. Chris has made it his sole purpose to empower and uplift others and help them find peace, perspective and power through what they’ve endured. You can read his work as published or featured in BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, TIME, Women’s Health and many more.