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10 Creative Ways to Express Gratitude

Thank you

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

It’s probably no surprise to you that gratitude is one of the most effective ways to increase your own happiness—and the happiness of others. But did you know that practicing gratitude can also make you healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic? Plus, it’s even been shown to have positive effects on your career and relationships.

Gratitude is clearly a worthwhile practice, and there are tons of wonderful resources online (even here on Tiny Buddha!) filled with insights, inspiration, and ideas for practicing thankfulness.

Whether it’s writing in a gratitude journal, sending out a thankful note, or saying “thank you” to people you love, there are countless ways to express appreciation and thankfulness.

Embracing gratitude might not be so difficult when things are going well, but over the past few years I’ve discovered just how powerful gratitude can be when going through a difficult time.

After a lifetime of perfectly good health, last autumn I was unexpectedly faced with the challenge of having four surgeries. As someone who battles with extreme anxiety when it comes to anything medical (especially needles!), the prospect of surgery terrified me.

During this difficult time, I was so fortunate to have friends, family members, and even strangers treat me with kindness, love, and compassion—something that I know wasn’t always easy, given my panicky state of mind!

One of the ways I coped with my anxiety was transferring my attention from my apprehension to appreciation. Every time I found myself dwelling on my fears, I asked myself: What can I be thankful for? Who can I thank today?

While I won’t deny that four surgeries (and tons of bed rest!) was an unpleasant experience, it did give me the opportunity to have a life-changing revelation: expressing gratitude can be a transformative experience.

The more I focused on being thankful (and expressing that gratitude), the less time I had to ruminate on my worries.

Being thankful not only helped me to better cope with my worries, but expressing my appreciation to others helped me to strengthen my relationships with my friends, family members, and even my surgeon!

Whether you’re in the midst of one of life’s highs or one of it’s lows, you have a great deal to gain from taking your appreciation and sharing it with the world. Here are some of my favorite ideas for doing just that:

1. Like every post on friends’ social media feeds

Pressing a button to like a post might seem like a small thing, but in our digital age, this tiny act can be a great—and easy!—way to express gratitude.

Silly as it might sound, those little notifications can mean a lot to some people and, unless you actively disagree with what’s being conveyed in the post, why not show your appreciation for the person who shared it by giving it a thumbs-up or a heart?

2. Forgive someone who has hurt you

Forgiveness might not sound directly connected to gratitude, but when you forgive someone who has hurt you (with or without an apology), what you’re essentially doing is expressing gratitude for the experience and for the opportunity to experience compassion for someone else.

Forgiveness, mind you, does not condone the wrongdoing. It merely offers you a chance to free yourself from resentment and anger, which is a way to love yourself.

3. Connect two friends who might like each other

Friendships are one of life’s greatest gifts, and what better way to express gratitude for them than to help create more positive relationships?

If you think two friends might hit it off (either romantically or platonically), introduce them to one another. This is a great way to not only express your gratitude for friendship in general, but also to show these two people that you love and value them.

4. Donate clothing to your local homeless shelter

How many articles of clothing to you have that you don’t actually wear? If you sort through your closet and drawers, you’ll probably find tons of items you no longer need to keep.

Choosing to donate these items to those in need is not only a kind thing to do, but also a way of express gratitude for the time you were able to wear those clothes, for those who made the clothes, and for the opportunity to pass them along to someone in need.

5. Make and share a list of someone’s good traits

Do you ever have those moments when you look at a friend or loved one and think about how amazing they are? Don’t keep those thoughts to yourself!

Every time you notice something wonderful about someone else, write it down. When you have a nice little list gathered, share it with him or her to express how thankful you are for his or her wonderful traits.

6. Share your positive reviews with others

More often than not, when people take time to speak to a manager at a shop or restaurant or write an online review, it’s because they’ve had a bad experience and want to vent about it. But imagine what it would be like if people shared every positive they had with a product or service!

The next time someone is helpful or you enjoy a product, tell others about your experience. Leaving positive reviews and telling managers about positive employees is a fantastic way to express gratefulness.

7. Put your phone away when you’re with people

One of the absolute best ways to express your gratitude for others is by doing your best to be fully present in their presence.

This is not always easy (especially with all of the digital distractions!), but try your hardest to put your phone away when you’re interacting with others. Doing so will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them.

8. Write a handwritten letter (not just a note!)

You’re hopefully no stranger to the thank you note. A handwritten thank-you is one of the most impactful ways to express gratitude in an era when most people simply jot off an email or a text. But when was the last time you wrote a letter to express you gratitude?

Break out that loose leaf paper, a pen, and take some time write a full-page letter to a loved one, expressing your gratitude for everything they’ve done for you.

9. Pick up and throw away litter when you see it

Big picture gratitude is something that’s often ignored when thankfulness is discussed, but if you’re not spending time appreciating, and caring for, the world around you, you’re missing out on a great gratitude opportunity.

One simple and effective way to express appreciation for the world is to pick up and dispose of litter whenever you see it. It’s a small act, but if we all did it, the world would be a much better (and cleaner!) place.

10. Teach someone about something new

We all have unique skills and talents. Whether it’s something small (like mastering Snapchat) or big (like fully comprehending how quantum physics works), we all have knowledge we can share with others.

Sharing what we know allows us not only to show appreciation for others (after all, we value them enough to teach them something), but it also is a chance for us to be grateful for our personal knowledge and skills (and for the ways we were able to learn them).

Whether you choose to express gratitude using one of these creative gratitude tips or all ten, it’s my hope that they’ve inspired you in some way to think outside the box when it comes to showing appreciation for the people and experiences in your life.

Gratitude is one of the greatest ways to make your world a happier place, and the more you practice it, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for.

Editor’s Note: Dani has generously offered to give two sets of her two new books, Gratitude and Living in the Moment, to Tiny Buddha readers. To enter to win a free set, leave a comment below sharing something you’re grateful for. For an extra entry, share this post on one of your social media pages and include the link in your comment. You can enter until midnight, PST, on Friday, September 16th.

Update: The winners for this giveaway are marleyposh and Siege Htrowsdloh.

About Dani DiPirro

Dani DiPirro, founder of PositivelyPresent.com, is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, the Effortless Inspiration series, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration. Check out her new books on Gratitude and Living in the Moment!

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  • William Proctor

    This article comes at a perfect time as I have just recommitted to actively expressing gratitude daily. I used to keep a running list in a Google doc where I would add three things every day for which I was grateful. That practice fell by the wayside last year but last week I started a Tumblr to post my gratitude. I wanted the ability to easily add pictures, video and sound instead of just keeping a written list.

    Thank you for the suggestion that there are other ways to express gratitude. I do many of these things already but have not thought of them as a way of expressing gratitude. It is a great way to reframe my thought patterns around these activities. For example I do pick up a lot of litter (I was taught to leave things better than you found them) but I have always done so with resentment that other people are disrespectful slobs. I really like the idea of reframing that as an act expressing gratitude instead of resentment.

    Thank you again!

  • sian e lewis

    may I add to no 9 not just disposing of litter, but wherever possible recycling it what my kids call saving the planet! THANK-YOU

  • So happy to hear that this article came at the right time for you! I really appreciate your feedback on the article! 🙂 – Dani

  • Recycling is a great addition to this list! Thanks so much for mentioning that! – Dani

  • Nicole B.

    For 6 weeks, I have to stay on a sofa because of a broken ankle. My husband and my daughter are doing all the work and the meals in the house and they take great care of me. I am so grateful. I try to thank them many times in a day.

    Nicole Bussiere from Beloeil, Canada

  • jojo

    Over a year ago I started attending meditation and other events at a local Buddhist Centre where I was living at the time. My time there has taught me to be more mindful, nonjudgmental, compassionate and most of all… grateful for every being in the universe including myself. Most recently I have had to really call upon everything I’ve learned and everything I am to deal with a family in-law situation in which very hurtful and discriminating words were used against myself and my x-husband. I am grateful for those words as it has helped me to really really see inside, who the persons are and the situations have also helped me to have so much love and compassion for them and what they maybe struggling with inside themselves…if we all find peace within, we most certainly can find happiness and therefore can share it with the world and for this I am grateful.

  • KTR

    Over 2 years ago I went through a nasty divorce from an abusive man who still cannot see the pain his actions continue to cause his children.
    Every day I am grateful for getting out when I had the chance, and although he will always be a part of my life since we have children together, I am grateful that our children live primarily with me and still manage to flourish, even with his negative and toxic behaviors.

  • Em

    Gratitude used to banish negativity really struck a chord: in a troubled work environment I find myself practicing thankfulness in true Buddhist style – I am here to learn from this suffering and it too will pass. I thanked a friend today too!

  • Anna

    I am so grateful that I have a family that supports me through my weirdness….

  • Rachael Salyards

    I am grateful for the many opportunities for growth that each day brings.

    I couldn’t share this on FB though. Something about being blocked content. Did anyone else have that problem?

  • Beth

    Please accept my gratiude for this lovely article and for sharing, as well as to all for their comments and personal shares. I am appreciative to have read them – and the books look wonderful. I encourage everyone to check out the previews, beautifully designed and inspiring content.

  • I had that same problem, Rachael! I copied the link and posted it instead and it worked.

  • Thanks so much, Beth! So glad you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  • Same here, Anna! 🙂

  • Sharon Berezne

    Today I am grateful for the gift of friendship. That I have love and support from my friends and I provide the same to them.

  • I’ve spent some time in troubled work environments myself and I know how difficult they can be. Gratitude definitely helps banish a great deal of negativity!

  • You should be so proud of what you’ve done! I can imagine that would be a tremendously difficult situation to be in, and it sounds like you’re doing the best you can to make the most of it and to focus on gratitude and positivity.

  • Tracey

    I am grateful that I am healthy and courageous enough, and have the capacity and awareness, to be able to express my gratitude. Amazing how the more I share, the more I get back!

  • I, too, was off my feet for a long time after my surgeries. It’s so difficult, but so wonderful when you have loved ones to help you. I hope you’re recovering well!

  • Meditation can be so powerful, especially when it comes to dealing with challenging circumstances and cultivating gratitude. Gratitude has definitely helped me to create more inner peace, which ultimately translates to outer peace as well.

  • Love that, Sharon! Friendship is so incredibly important! 🙂

  • It is so amazing how, the more you give, the more you get!

  • Lyndsey

    I am grateful for my life. Everything that crosses my path, encourages me to appreciate all that this world has to offer me. It is an amazing feeling when one is grateful and shares their gratitude it with others.

    I printed this article, so I could highlight as I was reading…

    From your list of 10, the one I have been loving the most recently, is number 7, “Put your phone away when you’re with people.” After reading this, it automatically brought me back to a date I went on a couple weekends ago…
    He sat on his phone 95% of the time we were at the dinner table. I was offended, of course, but I kept my mouth shut and continued to eat my meal that he paid for. I was thankful that he took me out and treated me to dinner that night, but I was concerned at the fact that he was on his phone. If there is a next time with him, I may just say something but I have to figure out how to say “put your phone away, already” in a nice way!

    In conclusion, I am starting a “gratitude journal” in which I am excited about. I am grateful for so much, that if I start to write down what I am thankful for, I won’t get overwhelmed by all my feelings that I have throughout my days.

    It was lovely to read your article. Thank you for all your support and advice!

  • Laurie

    I am so, so grateful that despite my husband getting laid off of his job of 34 years we are able to move back home after being relocated far away for the past seven years. I am proud of the way we are handling our lives turned upside down using the life tools I have learned being a subscriber to Tiny Buddha over the years. Many mornings over coffee it has been my saving grace as we transition to ‘sudden retirement’.

  • Kelly Johnson

    I have been doing a 30 day gratitude challenge that I found an app for on my phone. I am nearing the end of the challenge but will continue with my daily gratitude list. I feel so much more positive and life seems less stressful when I look at all the good I have and that is around me 🙂

  • Siege Htrowsdloh

    I am really grateful for the new phase in my life that I am just starting. I have unfortunately left a 6 year relationship but I am grateful to him for making the split as amicable as possible. I’m also grateful to my family for helping me sort out the sale of our house and I am grateful to my friends for supporting me through all the difficult times I’ve had. I’ve just moved into rented accommodation with a new friend so I am grateful to her for helping me find a new comfortable home too.

  • AllThatGlitters

    Wonderful article. Today I’m thankful for random, positive interactions with strangers. Exchanging smiles passing on the sidewalk, thanking a janitor for her services, admiring the sartorial choices of the woman next to me in the elevator…

  • Lois

    I’m grateful for many things, like wonderful articles like this, and Tiny Buddha. Waking up a bit and developing practices, such as a Gratitude Practice, my life has changed. Thank you!

  • Kristi M

    I am grateful that I get to spend my days with my children, watching them play and laugh and grow. I loved reading this article this morning – it has inspired me to spread some gratitude today!

    https://www.facebook.com/heykristi123/posts/676558389158191

  • Sophia

    I am grateful for the supportive, amazing, hard working friends I have. They are always there for me when I am going through tough times. There are very few people who are blessed with a group of friends similar to what I have. For that, I will always be grateful.

  • Leanne Hyland

    Today I’m thankful for the ability to have been able to go to work – not something I’ve even managed to do in the past.

  • SABRINA CROW

    I’M GRATEFUL FOR TODAY!!!!

  • Louise

    I make time to pray (almost) daily. I am grateful to have found this way to slow down, center, breathe and just be quiet. I know it’s almost daily b/c when I run pass this gift to myself I notice the quality of life lacking a wee bit for the day!

  • Wendy

    My five senses: I can SEE the beautiful natural world around me, FEEL love, TASTE chocolate (!), HEAR the voices of loved ones, and SMELL the trees and fresh air. What more can you ask for? Underneath it all, life is always good!

  • Kat Seekatz

    I found this site last week looking for ways to express gratitude to an amazing group of friends who supported me through 2 surgeries and many weeks of bed rest. Today I was amazed to find this list from Dani Di Pirro that was compiled under very similar circumstances. Wow! So perfect, so timely, such wonderful ideas to express my gratitude. I’m hosting a party for them next week, and I plan to write each one a letter and list some of their awesome qualities. Thank you!

  • Holly Dutton

    Thank you Dani. Cultivating gratitude in my life is something I continue to work towards. Reading articles, like yours, and intentionally focusing on the positive people and things in my life is truly important to stave off depression when life is tough. Thank you for the resources! Holly

  • emmapeel61

    I am so grateful for angels who walk amongst us…often I will notice a small gesture from one person to another that will restore my faith in humanity.

  • Lydia

    As I grow as a person I am learning to appreciate more the things that really make me happy: family, friends, co-workers, HEALTH. I find myself wanting less “things and material possessions” and more quality of life

  • Sara

    I an grateful for Dani’s insight. I keep her book Living in the Moment near my bedside and find something inside it daily to lift me and keep me grateful for LIFE!
    My teenage children often pick it up as well out of curiosity and the beautiful presentation captures them allowing the messages to get through in a fun way. Thanks!

  • Sue

    i am grateful for the two Monarch butterflies that spent the afternoon at my Butterfly bush. I am having surgery tomorrow and they represent a sign to me from my father and my son who both died way too young, that I will be okay. I am also grateful for my friend who is taking me for the surgery and has generously offered to take care of me after the surgery.

  • Sarah Landis

    Today I am thankful for cool weather! I love to be able to open my windows and get fresh air in the house and be able to listen to sounds from outside. I’m ready for Fall!!!

  • Chelsea Acker

    I am thankful for my new puppy and the unconditional love I receive from him 🙂

  • Abida Torres

    I am grateful that I didn’t give up on my family and myself. I am grateful to be learning more about myself and becoming the person I am and not who I think others think I should be.

  • sarah

    I’m grateful for my dog Fleur. She passed unexpectedly a week and a half ago, but she brought me immense joy. I miss you, my little dog!

  • Lisa Miller

    I’m grateful for my amazing meditation roshi.

  • Doreen Diaz

    I am grateful for the love of my family and friends. Especially in rough times they definitely bring a smile to my face.

  • Alane Bowling

    I am grateful for moments of joy in the midst of great sorrow.

  • Stevie Jane

    I am grateful for my ability to remember. Cherished memories help hold me together through darker days and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my loved one, creating them.

  • Julie C. Perry

    Thanks for the article and tips. I’d love to have a copy of the book. It’s always good to be thankful especially when things aren’t going so well!

  • Most wives complain about their husband’s snoring, but it is a blessing to me. I am grateful each time his snoring annoys me… for it means he is alive. You see, he was born with a “terminal” illness and I have almost become a widow 3 times in 17 years of marriage. I’d rather have him alive and snoring than the alternative.

  • Cheryl

    For the last 4 weeks I made a deterministic effort to connect with many wonderful persons to express gratitude for their support, encouragement, kindness and empathy when I was traversing a rough road with unsteady feet. I also connected with some who gave me guidance and support when I was a ‘young un’ fresh out of school. I have yet to connect with the haters who gave me a dose of reality and what I may have encountered during the journey. There are wonderful people in this workd, and when we practice gratitude the light of love gets brighter and will overshadow the darkness that challenges it.

  • Paula Renee

    I am grateful that I am in good health, have a safe place to live, and can afford to put food on my table. So many people do not even have these basic things.

  • Sophie Laing

    I am grateful for understanding parents who support my career choice in anyway they are able.

  • Shelby&LunaBay

    I am grateful for knowing that happiness is elusive and out of reach. Getting happy with myself is very gratifying.

  • Walter Mason

    I am so happy you wrote this beautiful article! Definitely a cut above the usual, and lots of practical advice. I feel like you have improved my life 🙂

  • marleyposh

    My mother passed away on July 25th this past summer. I miss her terribly, but am very grateful for having both my Mom and Dad for over 58 years. Every day was a blessing!

  • Kja

    I’m very grateful for Tiny Buddha; such a wonderful resource!!

  • Great post. I liked this one the most
    “practicing gratitude can also make you healthier, less stressed, and more optimistic”

  • Chris Furman

    I’m grateful for all my loving family and friends I have in my life and especially the wisdom of the Tiny Buddha you have shared of your life. THANK.YOU!

  • Tuba

    Im grateful for my healthy body, mind and heart. For being able to read this awesome article!

  • Lucky Elkaa

    I am grateful to have friends who understand me and accept me for who I am. Their support and positive thoughts help me a lot in trying to gain self-acceptance and self-confidence, and becoming more happy and at peace.

    https://www.facebook.com/cedric.potvin/posts/10154461313320561

  • Judy Lehman

    I am grateful for the rain today, and the way it makes my grass so green. 🙂

  • Tina M

    I’m grateful that I make self care a priority

  • Gillian Armstrong

    So grateful for my parents and siblings and the close bond we share.

  • LisaC

    I am grateful for being able to walk, talk, think, breathe and having wonderful people in my life.

  • De

    Thank you for the reminders. I am thank you for friends that have supported and stuck with me through some dark periods of suicidal ideation. I know it was hard for them.

  • Quartz518

    I am so grateful to the nurses and doctors that took such excellent care of my mother when she had a stroke 9 months ago. I am so thankful for the therapists and home healthcare workers that worked with her every week to regain functions she had lost. I am so grateful for the people I work with who showed both great compassion and flexibility as I needed to travel and help take care of my mom. I am so thankful to have a family who has been there for her in big and little ways. Finally, I am thankful that my mom has an incredible spirit that has carried her through recovery and rehabilitation. Her strength has been an inspiration to all who know her.

  • Logan Francis Trudeau

    I am grateful for realizing that I just need to be me and that is enough.

  • Shirls2011

    What a lovely article! I am increasingly grateful for the incredible kindness of friends who have given me unstinting support during my late husband;s long illness and subsequent death.

  • L Schlaegel

    I am grateful that I have a family support system that has stuck by me thru 6 years of cancer treatment.

  • Doreen Sum

    I had learnt that being grateful showed me the sparks in my life. By constantly reminding myself about the bright sparks, it attracts more positive energy. And that is how I met my husband. =)

  • ali gray

    To paraphrase my dad – grateful for a roof over my head, food in my fridge, clothes on my back. I’ve added and a job to continue to fund the 3.

  • Barb

    I am grateful simply for every breath I take for it allows me to be present to whatever may come in the next moment.

  • kimberlybischoff

    I am grateful for the small natural reminder that life is good that surround me everyday, like trees with different shaped leaves or that one tall blade of grass or even the sound of a small child in the distance. These are especially helpful on days I want to be grumpy.

  • Evelyn Robertson

    I am grateful for another day to be a mom to my daughters. I love the stories on this site that remind me to be thankful.

  • This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you Dani.

  • Cindy Hope

    Feeling great about someone saying they are grateful for your help can really brighten up your day. Consumer Health Digest , simple gestures like this can improve your mental status significantly. Lets all brighten up people’s mood shall we? 🙂

  • Rineetha Ramaprasad

    I loved the article!!!!

  • Mitushi

    I am grateful that I got opportunity to read this article, its so crisp n meaningful. Thanku.