One “thank you” will often do, thank you very much
1: Don't mistake gratitude for an IOU.
You shouldn't feel obliged to repay a favor. In close relationships, this sort of tit for tat can actually foster negative feelings between partners, and quick "repayment" may signal a discomfort with or avoidance of intimacy and trust.
Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research is driven by two main questions: (1) How do prosocial thoughts, feelings and actions help people thrive in their romantic relationships, and (2) how do basic biological factors, such as lack of sleep, prevent people from being prosocial? She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Social/Personality Psychology from UC Berkeley and her B.A. in Psychology from UCLA.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
2: Don't overdose on gratitude.
Express thanks—but not excessively. In a study of gratitude journaling, people who tracked their gratitude once per week reported increased happiness; those who tracked their gratitude three times per week did not. Running out of real things to write may, counterproductively, make people feel they don't have that much to be grateful for.
3: Don't sell yourself short.
When you achieve success, thank the people who helped get you there. But give yourself some credit, too. If you thank everyone else while downplaying your own hard work and talent, you may be mistaking low self-esteem for gratefulness.
4: Don't always "be thankful for what you have."
Concentrating on what you should be thankful for might mean you're glossing over red flags. In one study of romantic couples, expressing anger about a serious problem was more beneficial—and more likely to lead to a real resolution—than just being positive.