“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward
The holiday season generally brings us closer to people. Sometimes that closeness reminds us how much we love each other. Sometimes it reminds us that we drive each other crazy, as family often does.
At the heart of it, Thanksgiving in particular calls us to see people with the deepest appreciation for the gifts they’ve given us. Some gifts are more immediately obvious than others—the type that come with praise, affection, and genuine esteem.
Others push us, stretch us, test us, and make us wonder if there’s anything to be grateful for at all.
There’s no denying certain relationships are more challenging than others, but through each we have an opportunity to grow and help others do the same. Every relationship teaches us something about loving, trusting, forgiving, setting boundaries, taking care of ourselves, and taking care of each other.
From the people who love you, to the people who challenge you, to the people who support you at work, here’s how to show your gratitude:
Show Gratitude to People Who Love You
1. Share a specific example of something they did for you and how it made a difference in your life.
2. Do something little but thoughtful for them—like clean up after Thanksgiving dinner!
3. Give a long, intimate hug; or if you know they don’t like hugs, stick out your hand for a handshake to cater to their preferences and make them smile.
4. Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.
5. Give them something of yours that you think they would enjoy, and let them know specifically why you want them to have it.
6. Invite them to do something you know they’ve always wanted to do.
7. Encourage them to try something you know they want to try, but haven’t yet because they’re scared.
8. Offer to do something you know they don’t enjoy doing, like organizing their closet or mowing their lawn.
9. Compliment them on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire.
10. Look them straight in the eyes and say, “You make the world a better place.”
Show Gratitude to People Who Challenge You
11. Fully listen to what they have to say instead of forming your rebuttal in your head and waiting to speak.
12. Thank them for introducing you to a new way to look at things, even if you still don’t agree.
13. Pinpoint something you admire about their commitment to their beliefs—even if you don’t hold them, as well.
14. Resist the urge to tell them they’re wrong.
15. Challenge them right back to be the best they can be, with love and positive intentions.
16. If they inspired you to push outside your comfort zone, thank them for inspiring you to take a risk, and let them know how it paid off.
17. Write a blog post about how they helped you see things differently and dedicate it to them.
18. Use the lesson this person teaches you through your interactions, whether it’s patience, compassion, or courage.
19. Introduce them to someone who may challenge them and help them grow, as they’ve done for you.
20. Let them know how you appreciate when they challenge you in a loving, non-confrontational way—and if they don’t do that, be calm and kind when you ask them to do that going forward.
Show Gratitude to People Who Serve You
21. Give a larger tip than usual.
22. If they have a tip jar, include a thoughtful note of appreciation along with your coins or bills.
23. Smile when you order or enlist their assistance. Smiles are contagious, so give one away!
24. If they serve you regularly, acknowledge something they always do well—like work efficiently or stay calm under pressure.
25. Exhibit patience, even if you’re in a hurry.
26. Let their superior know they do an outstanding job.
27. Keep their workplace clean—for example, at a coffee shop, clean up after yourself at the sugar stand.
28. Offer to get a coffee for them, if it’s someone working in or outside your home.
29. If you have their contact information, send an email of appreciation—and let them know you just wanted to express your gratitude, so they don’t need to write back.
30. Praise them in a review on Yelp and/or recommend them to people you know.
Show Gratitude to People Who Work with You
31. Write a hand-written thank you note, acknowledging things you value about them and their work.
32. Offer to lighten their workload in some way if you are able.
33. Bring back lunch for them if you know they’re working hard and likely haven’t had a chance to grab something.
34. If you’re running a meeting, keep it short to show them you appreciate and respect their time.
35. Ask them about their lives instead of always being all business. This doesn’t mean you need to pry into personal matters; it just means showing an interest in who they are as people.
36. Be the calm, light voice in a stressful situation.
37. Give them flowers to brighten their desk.
38. Let their boss know how they’re doing a great job and contributing to the company.
39. Listen fully if they’re having a difficult day, and recognize if they need space to figure things out on their own, not advice or help.
40. Remember the little things can make a big difference!
Show Gratitude for Yourself
41. Make a list of ways you’ve impressed yourself lately.
42. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, like a pedicure or a massage.
43. If someone compliments you, thank them and let them know you’re proud of that skill, talent, or accomplishment.
44. Compliment yourself—say it while looking in the mirror, write it in a journal, or jot it on a sticky note and put it on your refrigerator.
45. Give yourself time to enjoy a passion you’re sometimes too busy to fit in.
46. Take an inventory of all the good things you’ve done for other people and the world.
47. Write yourself a love letter. Seriously, start with “Dear Lori” (but insert your own name) and describe all the things you admire about yourself.
48. Let go of any conditions you have for being kind to yourself—meaning you appreciate even if you didn’t accomplish or do anything specific.
49. Schedule a date with yourself—an afternoon or evening that’s all about you.
50. Share the beauty that is you with the people around you, knowing they’re fortunate to have you in their lives.
I am fortunate to have you in mine. You make the world a better place!
**Update: Since I wrote this post, I launched a gratitude journal/coloring book that people seem to be really enjoying! If you’re interested, you can learn more here.