Practicing gratitude has shown to be one of the best ways to improve our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with others, and to simply improve our life overall.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude as “the state of being grateful, thankfulness”. As simple as it sounds, many of us fail to understand the power of gratitude in our day to day lives and end up falling into a routine of complaint and self-pity. This article shares some of the best tips to start practicing gratitude, and why each of these steps can drastically improve our lives.
Listen to Others Actively
One simple way of showing gratitude to others is by simply listening to what they have to share. Not only is it rude to not pay attention to what a person says, but it’s also one of the worst ways of dismissing someone's feelings and thoughts.
By paying attention and really internalizing a person’s thoughts, we are able to truly value that person’s presence in our lives. This can be done by asking them questions, expressing our empathy toward their worries and really showing them that we care and that we are grateful for them.
Give People Compliments
If there is one thing that is not done enough is complimenting people just because. By giving someone a compliment about something you appreciate in them, you can literally make that person’s day. Compliments show that you notice them and that you appreciate them by sharing what you love about their existence.
There are so many things you can compliment a person on, ranging from their intelligence, their beauty, their skills, and so much more. Giving someone a compliment is one of the easiest ways to show someone your gratitude.
Be Sure to Make Eye Contact
People underestimate the power of making eye contact when talking to a person. We rarely do it when interacting with people, and often forget that maintaining eye contact is crucial for building a connection with the other person. And in fact, it’s kind of rude to avoid eye contact, unless that makes you really uncomfortable.
So when you’re having a conversation, if you want to practice being more present and addressing the other person fully, make sure to entirely give them your attention by looking them in the eye.
Show Detailed Appreciation
While regularly showing your appreciation toward a person can be quite easy, giving them a detailed expression of your appreciation might be a little bit harder. That means that instead of simply telling them you appreciate them, choose something that you love about them and explain to them why you love it.
Explain why you appreciate them and try to give them concrete examples of things they have done that have made an impact in your life. By citing different examples of your appreciation, your friend will feel special and really loved.
Be a Thoughtful Person
Nowadays, there are a lot of conversations about why it’s important to take care of ourselves. In simple terms, in order to take care of others, we absolutely need to take care of ourselves. However, in order to take this to a different level, it’s important to also take care of others and being thoughtful of them.
When we talk to someone or do something, it is extremely important to consider other people’s feelings, especially if they are loved ones you interact with on a regular basis.
Don’t Just Do the Pleasant Tasks
When offering to do something for someone, or to help them with a specific task, it is essential to do it all the way. Don’t just volunteer to do the easy tasks so you can tick them off your list.
Volunteer yourself to do the things that are a bit harder too, and sometimes, a bit more inconvenient. Think about the things you can do for people that will make their day easier, and how you can literally make someone’s week with a gesture that requires a bit more effort.
Give Out Hugs
Although giving people hugs might be difficult for some people, hugs still have a unique power of really connecting two people. By giving the people we love hugs, we are able to physically show our appreciation for them.
This doesn’t have to come at a random time. Simply hugging them when you greet them or when you say goodbye can already make a person feel how glad you really are to have them as a part of your life.
Be There for Others
No matter how many things we can do to show a person we are grateful for them, sometimes we just need to be there for them. Yes, it is important to call them, to hug them, to offer your help, and to talk to them, but there are certain times in a person’s life when all you need to do is be there.
This is especially true during difficult times when simply being there in silence next to the person can make a big difference for them.
When You’re Challenged, Learn to Be Gracious
In order to really grow, we have to challenge ourselves constantly and to be challenged by others. Be it in words or actions, when someone challenges us about something, it is absolutely crucial to be able to listen to them, and to respond politely.
The truth is that we never really know what someone is going through, and the reasons they think the way they do. So be kind, be gracious, and stand up for yourself and your beliefs in a way that is not offensive and aggressive to others.
When a person you know achieves something or is celebrating something they have managed to accomplish, offer your congratulations in a way that you mean it. This should apply even in moments when you don’t necessarily win anything.
Celebrating others' achievements, their birthdays, anniversaries, or anything that means something to them can take you a long way in your gratitude journey. Even better, take them out for dinner to celebrate, or just make a meaningful phone call, it doesn’t have to be anything too big.
Show off the Gifts You Get
Here’s something that many people almost always forget to do, to really appreciate and even show off someone’s gift. When someone puts time into choosing a gift for you, even if it’s the smallest gift in the world, it is so important to show them your appreciation.
If it involves clothes, wear them to show them you appreciate it, even if it’s not the thing you love the most. If it’s a souvenir, display it in your house or on your work desk. There are so many little things you can do to make the person feel like you really value their thoughtful gift.
Learn to Share Their Joys
One of the best things you can do to show gratitude is to share other people's joys as if they were your own. Celebrate their moments of happiness as if you were celebrating your own, because after all, your loved ones' joys should make you happy too.
At the same time, learn to share your own joys with others. For instance, if you have something that makes you happy, and you know that something will make someone else happy too, share it with them.
Be a Patient Person
Patience is most definitely a virtue, and it can take us a very long way in life. While not everyone is able to be the most patient person in the world, this is a skill that can definitely be worked on. Doing your best efforts to remain patient in situations that challenge you and even frustrate you, is a way of growing exponentially.
In challenging times, remember how much that person you are struggling with means so much to you, be kind to yourself, to the other person, and to the situation you find yourself in.
Share Other People’s Praise
There are many ways in which we can share another person’s praise. And while it might literally take us just a couple of minutes to do so, it can make that person’s day, week, or year. For example, if you get really good service or some fine hospitality from someone or from a place, let them know about it.
Let them know how much you appreciate their good work, and even more, if there are any supervisors around, let them know that their employees are simply amazing.
Give Small And Thoughtful Gifts
Giving a gift to someone should be something thoughtful. Everyone loves receiving a gift, and this doesn’t just have to happen on their birthday or on a special occasion. If you are walking somewhere and you see something that reminds you of a person, buy it for them and give it to them just because, there doesn't need to be a reason besides true appreciation.
Thoughtful and meaningful gifts may be much more valuable than something expensive and materialistic and might make a person feel like they are really appreciated.
Write Them Handwritten Thank-You Notes
It’s hard to come around a handwritten thank you note nowadays, but the truth is that notes that are literally written by you can be the most meaningful gift of all. When someone gives you a thoughtful gift, take some time to write to them how much you appreciate it, and how their thought makes a big difference in your life.
You can practice doing this not only when you receive a gift, but just if you randomly feel like thanking a person or even yourself for something.
Write Them a "Thinking of You" Letter
While it might be a little bit hard to do this naturally, practicing gratitude by writing someone a handwritten “Thinking of You" letter can be an amazing way to show someone how much you love them.
For real, forget WhatsApp, emails, and social media messages for just a bit, and try to write someone a handwritten message. You’ll see that the person will appreciate it like crazy, and as you write, you’ll realize that doing it is not so awkward after all.
Write Letters of Encouragement
Another amazing way to show someone how grateful you are for their existence is by writing them a letter of encouragement. Does the person have an important interview? Or a game they are nervous to play?
Or a presentation at work they have been working on for weeks? Write them a handwritten letter of encouragement telling them how much you believe in them, and how much you think they will rock whatever they are working for! You will see that doing so means much more than just another text message.
Write Them a Love Letter
Ah, love letters, such wonderful times they were. It’s a shame that nowadays love letters are not that much of a thing anymore. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring them back.
Take some time and write a love letter to your parents, to your partner, to your children, or anyone you would like to show your appreciation for. Doing this will also remind you of the things you love about someone, and will make both your day and that person’s day.
One of the best things you can do to track your gratitude and the way you feel is by journaling. It’s not easy, it requires consistency and taking a couple of minutes for yourself every day, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Journaling your gratitude can be an amazing way to write down why you're thankful and what you’re thankful for. And the best thing is that you can go back to it in days when you don’t necessarily feel so good and grateful for life.
Be Someone’s Support System
This one can be tricky, because there is a very thin line between being someone’s support system, and becoming someone’s entire support system to a point that they are dependent on you.
This can be worked on with time by creating boundaries and allowing the people we love to know that we really are there for them and to support them whenever they need it. Be a person that others can rely on, but make sure to also create the boundaries you need for the people who might push it a little bit too far on the emotional side.
Share Your Talents With Other People
Just like you should learn as much as you can from your friends and from the resources they can lovingly share with you, you should be able to share your talents with them too.
If you’re good at drawing, at writing, at creating a beautiful resume, at managing money, or at anything else, try to be resourceful for your friends too. Volunteer to help them with something you know they would pay tons of money to do, or they would struggle to do themselves.
Make Random Acts of Kindness
If you believe in karma, this is a good one to practice. Being kind to others, and performing random acts of kindness to the people you love or to strangers is one of the most selfless ways of practicing gratitude.
This can be done in several ways, by buying a homeless person lunch, helping someone to carry their bags up the stairs, volunteering to walk your friend’s dog on a day that they’re struggling with, and so much more. These acts can easily make someone’s day.
Pay for the Person Behind You
Another way to perform an act of kindness is by simply paying for the person behind you when you’re at a coffee shop or a drive-through. You can actually start a chain of kindness and gratitude if you pay an extra 5$ for the person behind you, with them hopefully doing the same for the person behind them, or simply appreciating the gesture.
Or for instance, if you decide to buy yourself something nice, buy someone a treat too. Hopefully this way you can also inspire others to be kinder.
Give Good Tips
When someone gives you some good service, do your best to give them a good tip while showing them gratitude for their work. The service industry is not an easy one to work in, so any appreciation to those who make the effort to stand out is so important.
If you have the means to, if someone stands out to you because of their good service, try to give them a tip that is above average so they know how much you appreciate their good work. You will also be giving them a push that day since not everyone is generous when it comes to giving tips.
Donate to Causes You Believe In
While donating to charity is not something common everywhere, there are cultures that are more inclined to donate to charities in local communities. If you want to pay forward and support those who are fighting for important causes, consider donating some money to a charity you care about.
This could be a symbolic amount, or if you can, give them small amounts every month eventually reaching a significant gift size. If you prefer, you can also donate clothes or utensils you no longer use (and are generally in good condition).
Volunteer When You Can
While volunteering our time is becoming increasingly hard with the fast pace of life, try to give some time to causes you love. Spending a few hours per month at an animal shelter, or a food bank, or your local church, mosque, synagogue, or temple, can be an excellent way of helping those in need.
If you can’t donate money, there is nothing more precious than donating your time and your efforts. There are several places that could use a helping hand, and that will appreciate your help in ways that will make giving back the most gratifying thing ever.
Host a Good Time With Your Friends
With absolutely no reason behind it, try to host a gathering for your friends every once in a while. Invite your dearest and closest group of people, and host them for a wonderful meal just to thank them for being in your life.
Showing our appreciation for time spent with our friends is crucial, and enjoying those little moments is important. Even if you don’t live in the biggest place there is, it’s not that hard to organize a small gathering with the people you love.
Help Those In Need
There is no better feeling than helping a stranger who really needs it. Doing so not only helps them but also allows you to feel good about your existence, which is definitely a plus!
You don’t have to do impossible things to help them, it can be as little as helping someone with directions, grabbing something they dropped on the floor, participating in blood donations, or waiting with them for a tow truck if you don’t know how to change a tire yourself.
Share Your Possessions
One thing that everyone should practice more to show gratitude and appreciation is to not be stingy. Being stingy is not only just a terrible thing in general, but it’s also a selfish way of going about our day.
If you have things that you can share with others, try to be willing to share some of these possessions with the people in your life, and with those who don’t have so much. You’ll see that once you share it, you will feel so much better to be doing something good for others.
No matter how much you think you are right, you should always consider saying sorry to the people that you really love. Compromises are often necessary, and sometimes they don’t come easily.
Because in all honesty, is it really worth it to refuse to apologize to someone just because you want to keep your pride and your ego intact? The answer is no. Failing to apologize in certain situations results in the development of toxic habits that may just get worse with time.
Visit Those in Need
If you can, try to spend some time visiting the people who might not have anyone else. You can do this by taking a Saturday morning to visit a nursing home or even dropping by the sick ward of a local hospital to spend some time with people who might not get visits from anyone else.
Try to do this with your own relatives, by making sure that they are not feeling left alone. Keeping company to someone for 30 minutes who might have otherwise not had anyone else to give them that time can mean the world to them.
Remember to Always Say Thank You
Some of us will remember the struggle of constantly hearing: “what do you say?” from our parents, every time they or someone else gave us something. Those turn out to be one of the most important learnings of our childhood, to always say thank you.
Be it to family members, to our partner, to co-workers, our kids, or whoever else it is, it is extremely important to always remember to thank people for their time, for their help, for their gift, or for their existence.
Smile at Others and at Yourself
Something as simple as smiling can be the best way to show gratitude, not only to others but to yourself. Share a smile with the people you love, or with your neighbor who you don’t like that much. Smile at yourself in the mirror and appreciate your existence.
Because the truth is that smiles can be contagious and have the power to just bring some warmth into a person's day. And seriously, one of the best ways to show gratitude in this world is to keep a positive mindset while sharing it with others through a sincere smile.