The gift of gratitude – the ability to find the blessing in every experience and show appreciation for it – is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. When we think about showing gratitude, we often think of creating the feeling of thankfulness within ourselves, whether we journal, practice priming or meditate. But gratitude is also one of the greatest gifts we can give others.
You don’t need to invest a lot of time or money to express gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a big event or dramatic gesture. Often the most powerful ways to show appreciation are understated. You just have to trade your expectations for appreciation and learn how to show gratitude every day.
1. Make a phone call
We live in the age of texting and social media messaging, which makes a phone call feel all the more special. Call family or friends just to say hello, or make a point to call someone you know is going through challenges in life.
2. Write a note
A handwritten, sincere “thank you” note is all it takes to express gratitude. The recipient can save it to look back on and bring a smile to their face. Another way to use notes is to write things you love about your spouse or family and leave them in a lunchbox, the book they’re reading or on the bathroom mirror.
3. Give a compliment
Everyone has time to show appreciation with a few nice words to a coworker, barista or even a total stranger on the street. Compliments help others shift their perspective to one of gratitude, and can turn around someone’s day instantly.
4. Get together
Pay a visit to a family member you haven’t seen in a while. Take them out for a walk around the park or to get coffee. Host brunch for some friends. Try a new restaurant or fun activity to keep your relationship interesting. There are endless ways to get together and have new experiences that demonstrate gratitude.
5. Show up
To show appreciation for someone close to you, take an interest in the things they love. Show up to their play, basketball game or dance recital. And when they are really in need, be the person they can go to for advice, support or just to talk.
6. Make them food
Food is one of the most universal ways to show appreciation. Baking cookies for a teacher, bringing dinner to a friend when they don’t have time to cook and making your partner breakfast in bed or their favorite dinner are guaranteed to be well-received.
7. Give them a gift
Gifts to express gratitude don’t have to be extravagant. Small gifts can be even more thoughtful: a gift card to their favorite cafe, a bouquet of their favorite flowers or a practical gift, like new headphones for that friend who’s always losing theirs.
8. Get creative
Showing gratitude with handmade gifts can be especially meaningful, so let your creativity shine. Make a gratitude scrapbook with pictures, notes and things that remind you of them. Paint a picture, write a song or poem or build them a playlist they can listen to when they need to feel appreciated.
9. Use their gifts
Meaningful gifts go both ways: If someone bought you something nice, be sure to show appreciation. Wear jewelry or clothes they gave you when you see them. Display that framed photo of the two of you somewhere easy to see. You’ll both feel good when you see it.
10. Share what you have
Too often we have a scarcity mindset in life. But living in gratitude means understanding that the universe always provides. Be willing to share what you have – books, clothes, food and even your time and skills – with your loved ones and those less fortunate.
11. Run an errand
Time is precious, and most people will feel appreciated when you give them some of yours. Offer to run an errand for a busy friend. Take on extra chores around the house and let your partner have a lazy afternoon. Express gratitude for all they do by doing some of it for them.
12. Be present
Your presence is the greatest gift you can give your significant other and your children – but you can also give this gift to anyone else in your life. Notice what they are wearing or a good deed they’ve done. Practice deep listening. Make an effort to connect with them and discover how to show gratitude on a deeper level.
13. Celebrate their success
Whether your friend passed the bar exam or your child’s teacher earned Teacher of the Year, celebrating their success shows that you appreciate them enough to notice their accomplishments. Send a note, a small gift or better yet, show up in person and pop the champagne.
14. Tell someone else
What’s an even better way to express gratitude than telling the person themselves? Telling their boss, writing them a letter of recommendation or nominating them for an award are all ways you can take your gratitude up a notch by earning them even more recognition.