Saying thank you is easy. Showing thankfulness is harder. Take a moment to think of all the people you are grateful for in your life. When was the last time you expressed that sense of gratitude in a meaningful way? When was the last time you went out of your way to notice, acknowledge, and appreciate kindness?
Showing gratitude doesn’t just improve your mental well-being, strengthen relationships, reduce stress, and help you feel good — it can protect your heart health as well. Gratitude is a gift — but it isn’t just for the recipient. As the giver of gratitude, you receive a gift as well.
The more grateful you are, the happier you will be and the more resilience you will have to face hard times when they come. Living life through a filter of thankfulness means noticing the little things and practicing a mindset of gratitude in every interaction with people and the world around you.
Here are nine practical and powerful ways to give the gift of gratitude today.
Reminders of what you have to be thankful for
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”– Robert Brault
Sometimes, we can get wrapped up in all of the negative, hard things happening in our lives, that we forget to take a step back and be thankful for the good. Before expressing thankfulness, you must first brainstorm what you have to be grateful for. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Your health and well-being
- Your family
- Good food
- Your home
- A good night of rest
- Your friends
- Your job and colleagues
- Your home
9 Ways to Express Thankfulness
Here are nine practical ways to express thankfulness in your life.
Keep a gratitude journal
“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”– Ernest Hemingway
Gratitude journaling is one of the simplest ways to become more positive and thankful. Yes, it is an expression of thankfulness that only you will see, but it will start to train your mind in the act of gratitude.
Keep a list, journal, note on your phone, or whatever works best for you, of the things you are grateful for. Try to add a few new things each day (even if they’re small), and be mindful of the good instead of focusing on the bad.
Say thank you (and mean it)
“Be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”– Jim Stovall
A casual thank you is usually a knee-jerk reaction to a kind word or a thoughtful deed. When was the last time you said “thank you” and truly meant it?
Try using different words and phrases the next time you thank someone. Here are a few ideas:
- “That meant the world to me.”
- “You have no idea how much I needed that.”
- “I couldn’t have done this without you.”
- “I’m so thankful for everything you do.”
- “I’ll never forget how kind and thoughtful you were.”
Or, simply look into their eyes, smile, and earnestly thank them from the bottom of your heart. Remember not to go overboard with the outpouring of thanks, as it can come off as insincere if the situation doesn’t warrant it. For instance, a simple “thank you” to someone who holds the door for you would likely suffice.
The point is to become more intentional with words of gratitude. Utilize emotion and words to convey the depth of your appreciation in the moment.
Take a nature walk
“Gratitude also opens your eyes to the limitless potential of the universe, while dissatisfaction closes your eyes to it.”– Stephen Richards
What better way to express thankfulness than by taking a walk in nature and expressing your gratitude for the planet that sustains you? Don’t wear headphones or listen to music. Instead, pay attention to the sounds of the birds and the wind through the trees. Take a deep breath of fresh air and tilt your face to the sun, thanking it (out loud or in your head) for coating the earth in a blanket of warmth and light.
Taking the time to be present and thankful in nature will make you a more grateful person and will help you be aware of how your daily activities impact the environment. Consider other ways to thank the earth, such as reducing your use of plastics (this improves your health as well) and limiting your use of fossil fuels by biking to work or taking public transportation, if possible.
Forest bathing also has unique health-protective benefits beyond gratitude. It can reduce stress, improve mood, and even boost cognitive function!
Send a thank you note
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”– John F. Kennedy
Grab a piece of paper or dig out your stationary and handwrite a note to someone you love. This act takes just a few minutes out of your day but could mean the world to someone. Plus, it can make you feel happier and more grateful as well!
Let them know that you’re thinking of them and that you’re thankful for them. It doesn’t have to be for anything in particular, but if you can think of specific things to thank them for, even better.
While a thank you text or phone call means a lot, being intentionally thoughtful and going out of your way to send a note shows a particular depth of care. A thank you note is a tangible reminder of your love and appreciation.
This is a great habit to get into regularly. Try writing a note to someone different once a month or once every few weeks. You’ll become more grateful for the important people in your life and will love finding new ways to show that gratitude.
Thank someone publicly
“Gratitude is the appreciation of things that are not deserved, earned, or demanded – those wonderful things that we take for granted.”– Renée Paule
Private thank you notes are always appreciated, but there’s something a little extra special about thanking someone publicly. Recognition means a lot, and when someone is working hard to do a good job or going out of their way to be kind, a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.
Make a post on social media about someone who is important to you or even someone who made a small (but impactful) difference in your day. Be sure to tag them so that they can see it! You could also call out a hardworking coworker in a meeting or a group message platform at work.
Keep a gratitude jar
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”– Amy Collette
Similar to a gratitude journal, a gratitude jar is a tool that helps you become more thankful. The more you notice everything you have to be grateful for, the more grateful you will become.
Write down one person or thing you are thankful for on a slip of paper and drop it into a jar. When that jar is full, go back and read over each entry, meditating on all of the good in your life.
Give a gift
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”– Eckhart Tolle
While thank you gifts may seem a little cliche, there’s something very meaningful to most people about getting a small gift out of the blue. Don’t wait for a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas to give your loved ones a gift. Pay attention to what they like and find something that shows how much you care.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot, either! Small gifts such as scented candles (non-toxic, of course) in their favorite fragrance, or even a healthy baked good or a book that you know they’d love. Remember, handmade or thoughtful gifts will mean a lot more than something expensive but generic. Gifts could also include experiences that you can share — such as tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event.
Spend time together
“The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”– Robert Holden
Show thankfulness to the people in your life by being intentional about spending time with them. Carve a few hours out of your schedule to grab coffee with a friend or video call a family member. While you’re with them, be sure to thank them for their impact on your life.
Look after your body!
“Sometimes we spend so much time and energy thinking about where we want to go that we don’t notice where we happen to be.”– Dan Gutman
While expressing thankfulness to the people in your life is certainly important, you should first and foremost thank your body for keeping you healthy and alive. Your internal systems are hard at work, pumping blood, fighting off disease, and allowing you to breathe and move. This deserves a little gratitude — don’t you think?
Exercise regularly, get out in the sunshine, avoid toxins, prioritize good sleep and invest in your health with quality, organic food, and nourishing supplements.
There’s no better time than the present to start exercising your gratitude muscles. Choose one thing from this list to focus on today. Over time, you’ll start becoming a more thankful person with a positive, joyous outlook on life.
Remember, looking after yourself is part of expressing thankfulness to your body. Our Cardio Multi multivitamin is an excellent gift of gratitude to give to yourself (or to those you love) for continued cardiac health and longevity.
Eat well, Live well, Think well
Medical review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza 2022