50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life

“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!

Photo by FernR

**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.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Lori, you have done well with sharing your beauty. We who read your words, and who are graciously welcomed into the community you’ve created, are indeed fortunate.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. May every day be a day of gratitude.

  • thank you lori!  you are an inspiration:) 

  • Hi Lori,

    Glad to have found this post. What a wonderful list of ways to show graditude this year. I’m about to go eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I will remember some of the things on your list to share with others. Thanks for your article and your blog.

    Happy Thanksgiving! 

  • I absolutely intend to follow some of these ideas today.  Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Jos

    I am so thankful to have found your daily inspiration. Wonderful ideas to follow today and everyday. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Sonia

    I am fortunate to have you in mine as well. Your posts are really inspiring. You definitely make the world a better place! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  • Tinarose29

    Thank you Lori, I too am extremly fortunate to have you in my life. I like the idea of writing myself a love letter, very intiguing. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

  • Thanks so much Tina. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did too!

  • Thanks so much Sonia!

  • Thank you Jos! Happy Friday =) 

  • You’re most welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. =)

  • You’re most welcome. I hope you had a wonderful day Vic!

  • Thanks Julie, and you’re most welcome!

  • What a wonderful thing to write. Thank you Cary. =)

  • Expressing gratitude is great. Not only does it make the other person feel good, it can improve your mood as well.

  • “4. Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.”

    This is one I’ve been working on in life, and I love the way the universe has reminded me of it through you and Tiny Buddha!

    So thank YOU for all that you’ve given to your readers!

  • What a wonderful list!  It would be a great goal to try and do one of these things each for a year.  It seems the people closest to us are the ones we seem to forget to thank.

  • Thanks Tracy! That would be a great goal. =)

  • You are most welcome! Thanks so much for the note Sabrina. =)

  • Jerri

    My friend, Mario told me about “Tiny Buddha.” Funny I have not seen him in several years, and I ran into him as I was walking into a store he was coming out of! I had been thinking about him for the last week…goes to show there are no accidents, when it comes to seeing thoses you have had on your heart. I was so happy to see him, it made my weekend complete. My family had gone back home, after Thanksgiving, and I was lonely. But I made myself go do ‘something” browse or …. HEY! See Mario! We caught up with what we had been doing, then he told me about Tiny Buddha….glad he did! Was glad to know we are both growing in our spiritual lives towards the good! jerri

  • Isn’t it awesome how just getting out can open us up to joy? Very cool you say your old friend…AND he told you about Tiny Buddha. =)

  • I’m a little late for Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to chime in and thank you for all you do for the Tiny Buddha community.  I’ve been reading for over a year now, and I can’t tell you how much your site has enlightened and encouraged me through the challenging journey I’ve had in the past year.  I am so, so grateful for this site, for you and for this community.  Thank you so much!

  • Thanks so much Alannah. That means a lot to me. How wonderful that the site has helped you. I know it’s helped me. 🙂

  • Fantastic post! If you like this, you might also like – a place where you can practice gratitude and share it with others who also practice gratitude.

  • Your articles are always so brilliant, if everyone followed ideals similar to that expressed in this article, the world would be very peaceful.  Thanks Lori, your articles are works of philosophical genius.

  • Thank you so much Andrew. What a wonderful compliment! =)

  • This is a great list.

  • Navanirajni

    Dear Lori, I love reading your articles it helps me alot,thanks for all that you have shared with readers. You do make world a better place.

  • You’re most welcome, and thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words!

  • Judopudo

    This changed my life , thankyou

  • Siam

    Thanks. I was looking for ideas to start off the 2013 first annual meeting with a meaningful session. Our Loving Father brought me to your words. Amazing!

  • You are most welcome. I’m glad you found your way here and that you enjoyed this post! =)

  • mary

    Absolutely, Cary !!!! NO doubt abt it !!!

  • mary

    mine too , absolutely !!!!

  • mary

    absolutely !!!!!!!

  • Sylvester Salve

    If each one of us could say that we’ve accomplished one of these 50 action at the end of each day, that will surely help us to reach the enlightenment and happiness that we all seek, by making the world better for us and others.

  • JIBurton13

    Great article, thank you.

  • You’re most welcome!

  • Peace Within

    These are all great ideas, Lori. Thank you for sharing. Even a small act of kindness goes a long way. You never know when someone really needs it. Also, the energy we give out is reciprocated. That’s the cool part about the universe. <3

  • Thanks so much, and you’re most welcome. Very cool, indeed. =)

  • Excellent piece!

  • Gigs

    Thank you! This is a very good list, largely because it is broken up into different situations. It’s easy to be grateful to people who love you, but it’s not as easy with everyone else. Well done!

  • You’re most welcome–I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Joaqin Phoenix

    you’re so sexy

  • jay chittewan

    Thank you very much.It teaches me a lot.i almost forget way of life to live,this is more than article for me.

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad this helped! =)

  • Hyspin

    What is the best way to show gratitude to people you barely know who yo don’t work with who are not that close and don’t serve you? I been more acts of kindness from people who are almost stranger than from family and friends and coworkers. Think I genuinely help out and make more effort they do (excluding my father) and say thank you and ave a great day to more people then who reciprocate or say it as part of there job on a daily basis and I am not even part of service industry. So what the best way to show strangers I know little about thank you?

  • I think like you said, little acts of kindness can make a big difference! Just acknowledging each other and being considerate can show people we care.

  • erik

    I really like this post, thank you

  • Tauba Istighfar

    To please Gd is the only right reason to do good and give thanks. Thank Gd for clarifying the best virtue (true worship) known best in the Quran.

  • This is my personal experience with gratitude and how it has served me throughout my life. No longer a prisoner of my childhood…The first thing I experienced is that I could breathe, really breathe! Once I started breathing I couldn’t stop. It was similar to someone who has panic attacks. Until this unexpectedly happened I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath. I had been holding my breath my entire life. This was so intense I wrote a book about it titled: GUIDED by Linda Deir, winner of the 2017 Body-Mind-Spirit Int’l Book Award. Available on Amazon.