20 Ways To Show Gratitude To The People In Your Life

Friends hugging

For many of us right now, it’s almost impossible to add anything new to our never-ending daily to-do list. We’re doing everything that we can do just to keep our heads above water each and every day as we have to get our kids off to school on-time each morning, take our dogs for walks, be productive at work, cook healthy meals for our family, take care of our homes, spend time with our partners, and then try to find time to take care of ourselves. However, if there’s one thing that most of us can benefit from adding to our daily lives, it’s gratitude.  

What Is Gratitude?  

The word ‘gratitude’ has a number of different meanings depending on the context. However, one definition of gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. 

“Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff,” according to Greater Good Magazine. “It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life.”  

Since gratitude is an expression of appreciation for what we have, by committing to a daily gratitude practice we can develop ways to show more appreciation for life each and every day.  

Why Is Gratitude So Important?  

With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. And when practicing gratitude on a regular basis, people tend to recognize that the source of that goodness comes from somewhere at least partially outside of themselves. As a result, being grateful helps people connect to something larger than themselves and to other people, nature, or a higher power. This is extremely important since connection is a core human need. It’s the experience of oneness and a feeling of belonging to something greater than oneself through shared experiences, relatable feelings, or similar ideas.  

Research has shown that gratitude can make our lives better, as well. More than 90% of people polled in a survey agreed that grateful people are more fulfilled, lead richer lives, and are more likely to have friends. And another survey revealed that over 90% of American teens and adults indicated that expressing gratitude made them ‘extremely happy’ or ‘somewhat happy.’ This makes sense since gratitude in all forms is associated with happiness.  

Some physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of a daily gratitude practice are increased happiness and self-esteem, as well as improved relationships, marriages, emotional intelligence, career success, and sleep quality. A regular practice of gratitude can help us feel more positive emotions, improve our health, and deal with adversity.  

20 Ways To Show Gratitude To The People In Your Life 

gratitude report found that 90% of Americans describe themselves as ‘grateful for their family’ and 87% of people are also ‘grateful for their closest friends.’ However, only 52% of women and 44% of men express gratitude on a regular basis.  

The gratitude report also revealed that 60% of people say they express gratitude to make themselves feel good and 57% express gratitude to make other people feel good, too. Since we want you to “Do What Makes You Feel Good,” while letting the people in your life know exactly how grateful you are for them, here are 20 ways that you can show gratitude to your nearest and dearest.  

1. Say Thank You 

Did you know that every language in the world has a way of saying, thank you? Saying thank you shows our appreciation and conveys our gratitude. In addition to being a sign of respect to the people in our lives who have helped us or given us something, showing appreciation can also help us make new friends. A study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship, as well.  

Since acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities, the next time a co-worker helps you with a project, make sure to send them a thank you note for all their assistance. And if you’re a business owner or a manager, remember to say thank you to your employees since it will motivate them to work harder. Lack of gratitude is also a major factor in driving job dissatisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, and burnout.   

To say thank you effectively and successfully in person: 

1.Make eye contact.  

2. Smile. 

3. Speak in a clear, friendly voice. 

4. Be specific when thanking people. For example, if your partner makes you a tasty dinner, say, “Thank you for making this delicious dinner tonight!”  

When writing a handwritten thank you note or a thank you email, you can use this simple thank you note formula:  

1.Express your gratitude and name the gift or action you received.  

2. Write a sentence or two about how you benefited from this particular gift or the person’s actions.  

3. End the thank you note by mentioning the next time you hope to speak to or visit with the person.  

2. Be A Good Listener 

During conversations with family members, co-workers, or friends are you usually thinking about what you’re going to say next in an effort to solve whatever problem the person came to you with? While a lot of us tend to do this, it unfortunately messes with our ability to listen to the person. That’s because when we’re listening, we tend to put ourselves in a thinking mindset. However, when we shift our focus to our contribution to the conversation, we enter a doing mindset, which is when we start ignoring the actual conversation. When we’re so busy focusing on our next contribution, we may miss the emotion behind what is being said, as well.  

gratitude report revealed that 93% of women are most grateful when a spouse simply listens when they have a problem. In fact, listening was the top thing on the gratitude list for women, even above having their husbands express love and affection, or remember a birthday. So, whenever you’re talking to a partner, a co-worker, or a friend about a problem that they have, really focus on listening without judgment and try to remain in a thinking mindset, rather than switching over to a doing mindset.  

3. Give Genuine Compliments  

Whenever you give genuine compliments to people about the positive impact that they have on your life, you’ll be reinforcing their value in the world, and also strengthening your relationship.  

Remember how good it felt when a teacher said,  “I caught you being great!” in elementary school? You’ll be doing the equivalent of that for your colleagues, family members, friends, haircutter, dog walker, barista, or anyone you praise for a job well-done.  

And when you say nice things to people, it enhances your self-confidence and self-esteem, too. So, they won’t be the only ones benefiting from your compliments. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to shower your loved ones, co-workers, or anyone who gives you great service with praise whenever they go above and beyond.  

4. Pay Attention To Your Loved Ones 

“Attention is the most basic expression of love,” according to The Family Institute. So, when you’re present with your partner and are actively listening to and engaging with them, what you’re telling your partner is, ‘I love you’ and ‘I choose you.’ 

On the other hand, if you’re scrolling on social media and half paying attention to your partner when you’re together, what you’re effectively telling your partner without saying anything is that they’re not a priority in your life. That’s why it’s so important to give your partner your full, undivided attention whenever you’re with them in order to let them know that you’re grateful for them and truly value your relationship.  

5. Give Your Partner A Hug 

Physical affection such as hugging, holding hands, and touching feels good to us since these behaviors elevate our level of oxytocin, which is a hormone that reduces pain and causes a calming sensation. Research has found that the more physically affectionate romantic partners are with one another, the more satisfied they are with their relationship. Studies also show that increasing physical affection can lower daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol in romantic couples.  

6. Make Small Sacrifices 

Sometimes it’s the small sacrifices that you make that can mean the most to others. Let’s say that you have a co-worker who always has your back and is willing to lend a helping hand whenever you need assistance. If that same co-worker needs to leave work a little early one day for a family emergency, go ahead and cover for that co-worker, even if it means that you’ll have to stay an hour or two later at work.  

While staying late at work is probably the last thing that you want to do, you’re showing your co-worker that you have their back and you care about them and their well-being, as well. And as long as it’s not impacting your plans for the night, it’s only a small sacrifice on your end that will be truly appreciated.  

7. Write ‘Thinking Of You’ Notes 

If you’ve been busy of late and feel like you’ve lost touch with some important people in your life, send them a ‘Thinking of You’ note or card to let them know just how much you do in fact miss and care about them. After all, receiving notes or cards like this will make anyone’s day! 

8. Plan A Date Night For Your Partner  

If your partner is constantly making decisions all day long, take away the decision-making for one night by planning a date night for them. Arrange the babysitter, make a reservation at their favorite restaurant, and just let your partner know what time to arrive at the restaurant. For someone who constantly has to make decisions, this date night surprise will be the best gift that you can give them.  

9. Give A ‘Just Because’ Gift 

Giving gifts ‘just because’ will show your lover that you’re thinking of him or her and that you’re aware of his or her wants and needs. Gift-giving is especially important if your partners’ love language involves receiving gifts. By giving him or her a gift, you’ll be proving to your partner that you really do love, care about, and appreciate him or her. 

10. Cook A Home-Cooked Meal 

A home-cooked meal can go a long way. If you have neighbors down the street who are always looking after your house and taking in packages for you when you’re away, inviting them over for a home-cooked meal will let them know just how much you appreciate all that they do to help you, without even being asked to do so in the first place. Try to find out their favorite meal or type of food ahead of time to really make the night special for them.  

11. Do Your Part 

If your partner is usually the one making dinner, then make sure that you’re the one cleaning up after dinner. Or if they’re washing the dishes, then make sure you’re there next to them to dry the dishes. Sharing household chores and picking up the slack around the house when you see that your partner is overwhelmed will go a long way in keeping your relationship happy and healthy.  

12. Share A Fond Memory 

Do you have a favorite childhood teacher who encouraged you to pursue your dream or a coach that taught you about the importance of good sportsmanship, regardless of whether you won or lost? If so, write them a note, visit them at school (if they’re still teaching or coaching), or call them to let them know just how grateful you are for everything that they did for you along the way. Rather than holding onto fond memories and keeping them to yourself, share them with the special people in your life. If the thought of that person and your memory makes you smile, imagine how it will make them feel to hear you say it all these years later.  

13. Make A Photo Album Or A Memory Book 

If you have a grandparent or a family member who you haven’t seen in a while, go through your old photos and make a photo album or a memory book for them. Even if you can’t always be together these days, it’ll let the important person in your life know just how much you care. You can also leave the last few pages of the memory book blank and explain that that section is reserved for the new memories that you’ll make together soon. This will also give your grandparent or family member something to look forward to.  

14. Set Your Partner (Or Co-Worker) Up For A Great Day Ahead 

Acts of kindness can go a long way, especially when they make your partner’s mornings easier. If you know that your partner makes coffee first thing in the morning, instead of your partner having to clean the pot before making the coffee in the AM, clean the coffee pot for him or her the night before as a way to show them that you’re in tune with them and want them to have a great day. You can also surprise your co-worker with coffee if they helped you out with something recently and you want to show your appreciation.   

15. Offer Congratulations 

While we’d all love to always be the star of the show, there are times in life when we simply won’t be. If you happen to lose out on a promotion to a colleague, who’s also a good friend, instead of being bitter about it, share in your colleague and friend’s success and offer them congratulations. While it will definitely be disappointing to miss out on the opportunity, think about how much worse you’ll feel if you lose your friend, too, since you were a sore loser.  

This same concept goes for a best friend who gets engaged, even though you may not have a partner at the moment. Instead of being disappointed that you don’t have a partner, share in your friend’s big news and excitement by offering a sincere congratulations.  

16. Be Reliable  

By showing up on time, keeping your promises, and being reliable, you’ll show your partner, colleagues, friends, and family members that you appreciate their time and the fact that they want to spend time with you. On the other hand, if you don’t follow through and do what you said you were going to do, the people in your life will feel unappreciated or taken for granted.  

17. Tip Well For Good Service 

When you receive good service, make sure to offer a good tip that shows those in the service industry how much they’re appreciated. And if there’s someone who has your coffee or lunch order ready to go before you even order each day, you might want to give them a gift or a little extra tip during the holidays, too. This way they’ll know that you appreciate everything that they do for you.  

18. Smile 

Smiling doesn’t cost you anything and it has the ability to make gratitude and happiness go viral. The more you smile, the healthier your brain can be, too. So, whenever you see loved ones, or even strangers on the bus, go ahead and share a smile.  

19. Get Your Friends Or Loved Ones A Gratitude Journal  

Research has found that writing for five-minutes in a daily gratitude journal can increase long-term well-being by 10%. And being grateful can increase people’s happiness, lower their stress levels, improve their sleep, and help them to build better relationships. Therefore, if you want to show a loved one or a co-worker how grateful you are for them, buy them a gratitude diary in order to help them practice gratitude on a daily basis.  

20. Tell Them How You Truly Feel About Them 

Sometimes the best way to tell someone how you truly feel about them is to actually tell them. The next time you’re with someone you really care about and are thinking about how grateful you are for them in your mind, share it with them instead. This way you’ll be able to see their reaction in real time as you’re telling them all the reasons why you’re so grateful for them! 

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