“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward
Expressing your gratitude towards others is one of the biggest gifts you can give to them. As we show our thankfulness to family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, our hearts expand and we lift each other up. Research has shown that the practice of gratitude helps us cope better with stress, improves our health and increases positive feelings such as hope, peace and happiness. We can also use gratitude’s power to help us through tough times.
In the book, Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, Angeles Arrien, teacher and cultural anthropologist, says, “Through conscious and sustained practice over a period of time, we can discover again how gratitude and all its related qualities – thankfulness, appreciation, compassion, generosity, grace, and so many other positive states – can become integrated and embodied in our lives.” She goes on to say, “And when people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire for ourselves and for future generations.”
Just as an act of kindness can make both the receiver and giver feel great so does expressing and receiving gratitude. We give the best of ourselves when we are thankful. Here are 100 ways we can express gratitude and boost happiness:
1. Adopt the habit of grateful thinking by focusing your attention on all that you are grateful for each day. After 21 days, as scientists say, you will have created a habit. You can start with some simple morning practices.
2. Write a handwritten letter of thanks for a person’s help, love, friendship and/or support is one of the easiest and potentially most impactful ways to express your gratitude.
3. Make a gratitude list. Get comfortable, find a quiet place, and write down ten things that you are thankful for in life. Read your gratitude list often to remind you of all the good in your life.
4. Share what is on your gratitude list with your friends and family on social media and ask them to share what they are grateful for in life.
5. Do something unexpected for someone. What a feeling it is to have someone bring home flowers unexpectedly, or give you a big hug out of nowhere. Surprise someone for no reason and brighten his or her day!
6. Keep a gratitude journal. To write down what you are grateful for each day helps us think about what’s good in life rather than what we are lacking or unhappy with. You may want to buy a nice journal to write in or even keep a digital online journal. Whatever you choose, these tips for keeping a gratitude journal can help you get started.
7. Recognize each day as a gift. Each new day is a “gift” to us and the only appropriate response for this gift is gratefulness, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk. Watch this beautiful video and gain a new perspective on the day.
8. Show appreciation to your parent(s) by writing them a heartfelt letter of thanks for all the support and love they have given you over the years. Let them know how they influenced your life in a positive way.
9. Call your parent(s) more often to let them know how you are doing and that you are thinking of them.
10. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries of friends, family and even acquaintances. A phone call, card, e-mail, or text might make their day!
11. Thank people for their service. Mukhtar Fodelsdag’s birthday outpouring made him feel acknowledged and recognized by the people he serves so loyally every day.
12. Give heartfelt thanks to people. We say thank you throughout the day as a good habit but stop to think if you can make it even more heartfelt.
13. Say thanks before dinner. These beautiful ways to say grace help express appreciation for the food that nourishes your body and the experience of enjoying a meal together with others.
14. Share your gratitude around the dinner table. You can share one thing you were grateful for that day with your family and ask them to do the same. This also helps teach the practice of gratitude to children, enriching their lives.
15. Embrace the beauty of nature. Technology can consume us – ipads, ipods, TV, e-mail and more. Take time away from the electronics to embrace and enjoy the beauty of nature, which is great for the soul.
16. Take nothing for granted. Sometimes we lose sight of all that we have, which is human but it’s important to stop and think about what and who you might be taking for granted. This will help you remember the many blessings in life.
17. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”. Thinking about how to be more grateful followed by actions that support this thinking, helps to make gratitude more of a habit rather than a fleeing emotion. As we focus on what we are thankful for, fear, anger and bitterness lessen and we help to retrain our minds toward positivity.
18. Read and share the “Be thankful” poem, a poem that expresses how we can turn negatives into positives by changing our perspective.
19. Look for the opportunities. So many times in life, unpleasant things happen to us and then, in time, something good comes out of that experience, like a better job or relationship. Try to open up to any opportunity that might be there in difficult situations and use this new insight to find greater hope and strength.
20. Be thankful for who you are instead of criticizing yourself which erodes self-confidence. Your special talents, skills, personality and qualities all make up the unique and special person you are.
21. Give hope and encouragement to someone in need because your compassion can have an inspiring, even life-changing effect on another person.
22. Leave encouraging words for someone. Next time you are at a restaurant, at the grocery store, in a mall or even in the workplace, leave a positive note or quote with the intention of cheering someone up.
23. Give a genuine compliment on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire in someone.
24. Tell co-workers how thankful you are for their support with a project or task. You can do this face-to-face or with a nice card
25. Remember: There is nothing lacking. Our minds tend to lean towards what we are lacking in life instead of all the abundance that exists around us. We always have the choice to think about what is scarce or what is abundant in life. What’s key is to recognize this choice and the value this shift in mindset brings.
26. Practice random acts of kindness and through your generosity, you can potentially affect another’s life in a positive way and bring joy to yourself for having done so.
27. Raise a happier child. Children are open books for learning and absorb things without judgment or reserve. Teach a child to be grateful by helping him or her send thank you notes for gifts received, say thank you more often, give teachers and others gifts, and watch their happiness increase.
28. Create gratitude affirmations. Saying affirmations helps us to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. We have beliefs about ourselves that, if we changed, we would take more risks, overcome our self-imposed limitations and enjoy life more.
29. Forgive someone. We can forgive for a better life by focusing on what we can be thankful for in a situation where a person has harmed us. This is tough, especially when the harm was life altering. However, if we can look for the good that came out of the situation, it can help us to forgive and heal.
30. Vow not to complain for 21 days. Do you think you could stop complaining for 21 days straight? Complaining feels good because it gets out our negative feelings. However, if it becomes a habit, it can bring us down. Switching from our complaints to all life’s goodness will enhance our lives.
31. Use gratitude in difficult times to help you see what can be good about a situation. Although it can be tough to do, we can open ourselves up to this shift in thinking to help us cope and heal more quickly.
32. Light a candle as a peaceful and spiritual gesture for someone or something. You can even light a virtual candle.
33. Send an e-card. An e-card comes in handy when you have forgotten to get a card for an important occasion. You can send a card that focuses on the appreciation of others.
34. Begin and end your day with gratitude. Create a daily habit of starting your day thinking about what you appreciate in life and then end your day the same way.
35. Say a prayer of thanks for feeling loved and for having the capacity to love. We received a timeless lesson from the famous song “Nature Boy” by Eden Ahbez (first sung by Nat King Cole): “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”.
36. Buy a gift, even just a little something for a spouse, child or friend to make them feel special.
37. Count 100 blessings. Take the challenge of writing 100 things that you are grateful for in your life. In fact, you can kick-off your journal writing with this list.
38. Meditate in gratitude. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and follow this meditation to start the flow of thankful energy.
39. Share the practice of gratitude with others. Is someone you know coping with a stress or trauma? Suggest that they ease worries and suffering by redirecting their attention on feelings of gratefulness.
40. Post positive notes or quotes around your house. To help keep the feelings of gratefulness alive and part of your day, write little positive notes and post around the house so they are in plain sight as a steady reminder of all that is good.
41. Create a vision board. You can create a vision board, which will help you get clear on what you are grateful for and make it indelible on the mind. On a poster board of any size, paste pictures, symbols, words from magazines and other sources onto the board that represent your feelings of thankfulness. Keep this board in a place where you can see it daily.
42. Take a “gratitude walk”—whether it’s right around your neighborhood or a hike in the woods. Immerse yourself in good thoughts while you look at the trees, flowers, snow – all the beauty and abundance of nature.
43. Keep an open heart, even when you are frustrated or angry. An effective way to do this is to think of something you are grateful for, in the moment, which will help give you greater peace.
44. Heal yourself with gratitude because, as research has shown, physical and mental well-being improves when we are more thankful and express our thanks, making others feel good too.
45. Recognize how good things really are by being content with what you have; rejoicing in the way things are and realizing that there is nothing lacking and the world will belong to you, as Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu says.
46. Share a heartwarming moment, which helps to open other people’s hearts too. Watch this show of thankfulness between two siblings over a hamster surprise.
47. Give thanks to the earth for all it’s gifts like the sunlight that keeps us warm, the moonlight that guides our way, stars that brighten the sky, trees and flowers for their vibrant colors, sweet-sounding birds, plants that produce food to eat, water to drink, and so much more.
48. Keep a gratitude jar filled with notes on life’s blessings (small and big) in your home and whenever you, your spouse or children feel down choose a note from the jar for an instant lift.
49. Smile more often. Pick a day where you will smile at three random people as you walk by them, which communicates to them a sense of oneness and well-being.
50. Celebrate people’s lives before they pass away so that they can enjoy the admiration and be surprised about the impact they had on so many people.
51. Write love notes. A simple love note expressing your love and admiration for your spouse, child or anyone else helps them to feel appreciated and cherished.
52. Join the Gratitude Lounge, a community space to support and celebrate grateful living.
53. Start a gratitude group where you can get together weekly or monthly to focus on gratefulness. You can create vision boards, write creative notes and share stories.
54. Grow your compassion toward people and as you do, you’ll see how fortunate you are to get the chance make a difference in their lives, just by opening your heart.
55. Support a friend’s endeavor to show them that you are loyal and will stand by them through good and bad times.
56. Mentor or teach someone. You can make a difference in someone’s life by sharing your expertise in something, which he or she will remember in the years to come.
57. Call past mentors to let them know how, what they taught you, has made a difference in your life.
58. Read books on gratitude to understand more the powerful effect that thankfulness can have on your life.
59. Send a book on gratitude to someone, which is a great way to heighten a person’s awareness of how gratefulness is the road to emotional prosperity.
60. Involve your community by suggesting to your local church that they talk about thankfulness one Sunday or as a topic at a meeting for a club, you belong to.
61. Carry a symbol. You can carry something like a rock or wear a bracelet that reminds you daily of all the little and big pleasures in life.
62. Invite neighbors to dinner to get to know them and form a relationship where you look out for one another and lend a hand when needed.
63. Choose happiness and help others do the same through words of encouragement, hope and love.
64. Listen, truly listen, to people. Many of us listen to reply, not to really hear what people have to say. Give people your full attention when they are talking to you and see their reaction to your blank.
65. Hug someone to show how grateful you are to have him or her in your life. A simple hug could be just what a person needs to feel loved and appreciated.
66. Encourage someone with kind words because words mean so much. Words can cut like a knife or raise us up to the highest peak and people remember good or bad words long after we say them.
67. Leave a nice tip to recognize a waiter for excellent service.
68. Honor your ancestors by seeking out your family genealogy and call upon their grace in times of need.
69. Complete a survey for a product or service you believe in to express your appreciation to the company and provide valuable feedback.
70. Donate to a charity and show your appreciation for the transformative work they do in your community, or nationally.
71. Say you are sorry, even if you feel you were right, because it’s better to live in peace than to live with bitterness.
72. Hang a wall calendar and write, for each day, one thing you are grateful for that happened that day.
73. Notice what is going right in life instead of what is going wrong. This will help you to develop a more optimistic outlook.
74. Make gratitude cards with your child to hand out to his or her school classmates, or to give to family members.
75. Share content of a blog you like with your friends.
76. Make a friend or family member their favorite meal. This thoughtful gesture will make them feel special and loved.
77. Offer to take a task or project off a loved one’s hands like mowing the lawn, making a meal, painting the garage door, cleaning, or something of value to them.
78. Bring coffee to security guards and police officers and thank them for their protection and service.
79. Host a gathering of close friends with the sole purpose of celebrating the friendship, having some laughs and giving away generous compliments.
80. Visit an elderly family member who may be feeling lonely and isolated and in need of some words of encouragement and hope.
81. Give someone with kids (especially a single parent) a day off so he or she can do get a massage, spend the day with friends, go shopping or to the gym.
82. Share a positive review about a place where you stayed on a website like Yelp or TripAdvisor to help support a business.
83. Write a poem. Exercise your creativity and take a stab at writing a poem on gratitude and either keep it for yourself, or give it away.
84. Treasure your loved ones because it’s easy to take them for granted, which makes them feel unappreciated and not special to you. Show and/or tell them that you are grateful for having them in your life.
85. Be thankful for your successes. Write down all that you have accomplished this past year, which you may not even realize how many there are and then savor these successes rather than thinking about what you didn’t accomplish.
86. Send a text or note to your husband, wife or significant other thanking them for all they do for you and telling them how much you love them.
87. Be someone’s greatest fan and talk about him or her talents and great qualities in front of others. Watch the person’s face glow with pleasure.
88. Challenge your inner critic with thoughts of thankfulness, which will immediately turn your negative thoughts into positive ones.
89. Download a gratitude app and rewire your brain by recording your life’s best moments.
90. Wear your heart on your sleeve because the best thing you can do is always be your honest self.
91. Play music and acknowledge it’s healing and restorative powers with its beautiful lyrics and melodic tones to make you feel alive.
92. Read the book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and see how the practice of gratitude can increase your happiness by 25%.
93. Recall a time in your life where you experienced a setback but overcame it and be grateful for your strength and perseverance during that difficult time.
94. Carry a small notebook with you to record, for one day (or every day), all the positive things that happened to you and kind words said to help you see what a great day it truly was.
95. Watch Mike Robbin’s TED Talk on the power of appreciation where he discusses how appreciation can affect productivity, morale, and success in individuals.
96. Think about what life would be like if you had never met your spouse, had a child, or lost a job that set you on a new, more purposeful life path. If we think about what might have not been, we instantly become more grateful.
97. Be grateful for all the people in your life who you had an opportunity to be kind and generous towards. You touched their lives in a meaningful way and became a better person for having done so.
98. Do one thing a week that tends to our environment, like using recycled products, especially paper, joining a car pool, educating children about how to care for the environment and more. View this list for more ideas.
99. Improve your relationships by not taking loved ones for granted and expressing your appreciation for who they are and all the love and support they give to you.
100. Celebrate the miracle of life and all of its past, present and future blessings and notice your life change for the better.
What way(s) to express your gratitude above would you be willing to do? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.