10 Ways to Give Thanks
Taking time to say “thank you” isn’t just an act of politeness towards our fellow humans. The appreciation we express for the people, things, and experiences that enrich our lives actually makes us happier.1 A daily gratitude practice has numerous benefits for your mental well-being as well as your physical health.2 It can improve your mood, reduce stress, strengthen relationships, and foster a more positive outlook on life.
We’re entering a season of thankfulness, but choosing a mindset of gratitude can have a powerful impact all year round. Here are a few simple ways to give thanks today.
1. Express Yourself
We may thank others many times each day, but research shows that more than half of our “thank yous” are said out of habit rather than sincerity.3
Gratitude is about so much more than minding your manners. The next time you find yourself in a position to thank someone, whether it’s for holding the door or for supporting you in a much bigger way, take a moment to think about why you are grateful. Over time, this habit will have you noticing opportunities for thankfulness all around you.
2. Treat Someone
Want to show your gratitude or make someone’s day? Invite someone to share a cup of coffee or tea and pick up the tab.
Thankfulness doesn’t need to include grand gestures. In fact, research confirms that small behavioral expressions of care are perceived as the most thoughtful.4 If you are looking for a way to thank someone for the role they play in your life, keep it simple — your sincerity will shine through.
3. Handwrite a Note
As the world gets more digital, receiving a physical card or letter in the mail becomes more special. This is especially true if you take the time to write your message of thanks by hand.
Handwriting is so unique to the individual that it can be used for identification purposes.5 When you take the time to sit down and pen a note or letter, you’re giving the recipient something incredibly special and personal.
4. Shout it Out
If you’re full of appreciation for a friend, family member, or co-worker — don’t keep it to yourself. Even though we know we shouldn’t do good deeds with the goal of being recognized, most people do like to be publicly thanked.6
Give credit where it’s due and be vocal when you get an opportunity to acknowledge any help you received on a project. You’ll be doing your part to build a culture of gratitude.
5. Show, Don’t Tell
Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to gratitude.7 Acts of service are powerful expressions of thankfulness — and they are more likely to leave an impression than words alone.
Show your thanks by offering your help. Your gesture could be as big as helping a friend move or as small as watering their plants the next time they are out of town.
6. Compliment Someone
Sincere compliments are good for the giver and the receiver. Looking for opportunities to praise others encourages you to focus on the positive.
According to psychologists, the most impactful compliments are specific.8 Whether you’re remarking on someone’s presentation at the most recent team meeting or their new shoes, think about what, exactly, you are admiring. Give your compliment a personal touch, and you’ll brighten someone’s day.
7. Think Homemade
Are you famous for your scratch-made cinnamon buns or known for your knitting? The next time you’re in search of a thoughtful gift, think about how you can use your talents to show your appreciation.
Homemade gifts (and acts of service, for the less crafty) are especially thoughtful because they come with an investment of time. Recipients of handmade gifts treasure them for their thoughtfulness, and because they are certain to be one-of-a-kind.
8. Pay it Forward with Random Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are special because we do them knowing that we aren’t likely to be around to see their impact. Small selfless gestures can make us aware of just how much we have to be grateful for.
Look for little ways to add a little more joy and thankfulness to the world around you. Leave snacks outside your door for delivery drivers, put some spare change in a stranger’s parking meter before it expires, or rake a neighbor’s leaves without being asked. Notice how these anonymous good deeds make you feel.
Serving others is a great way to support a cause that’s close to your heart. It’s also tremendous for your own mental health.9
People who give back by volunteering feel more connected to their communities, less anxious, and more content — probably because the act of sharing our time and talents reminds us of just how much we have to offer.
10. Keep a Gratitude Journal
The positive effects of your gratitude practice build up over time. Keeping a gratitude journal10 creates a record of your journey that you can look back on in the future.
For best results, set a reminder to dedicate a few minutes each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for and how you can express and share it with others. As with any habit, practice makes progress! With consistency, you’ll notice your attitude shift towards the positive in a powerful way.
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