Gratitude 6: Discover new ways to show gratitude

You probably have a few ways that you prefer to show gratitude. But remember, you need to show gratitude in ways that are meaningful to that person’s temperament, not yours. This means that you may need to think outside of the box and discover new ways to show and express gratitude to each personality style. Below are a handful of ideas.

Change your perspective. If you really want to become a grateful person, you need to do something every day that will allow you to see the forest from the trees. Sometimes we become so caught up in the present that we forget the pleasantries of the past and the possibilities of the future. Changing our perspectives can help us realize that things could be a lot worse than they are right now, and that we ought to be thankful for what we have, rather than what we don’t have.

Send thank-you notes. According to Emily Post’s Etiquette, the quintessential guide to manners, one of the worst breeches of etiquette in society is not sending out written “thank-you” notes. Whether it’s an official thank-you card, a handwritten letter, a short email message, or even a quick text message to a cell phone, it is important (to the other person) to record your feelings in writing. Besides showing that you are grateful enough to take the time to write a few words, it gives them something to reflect upon later—at a time when thoughtful words might cheer them up and make their day.

Perform an anonymous kindly deed. Think of something the person needs, likes, or wants, and try to give it to them anonymously. For example, you could perform a quiet act of service, send some flowers or a gift basket, bake a loaf of bread, do one of their assignments or chores, or spread a good rumor about the person. Try to surprise them with something they’re likely to appreciate.

Acknowledge them in public. In 35 B.C.E., Publilius Syrus said, “Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly.” If it would be meaningful to your benefactors, find a way to publicly acknowledge their generosity or contributions. You can do this in your local newspaper, in your company newsletter, on your blog, in your social media channels, with a plaque or a trophy, or even on a billboard. Most people aren’t truly offended with public praise.

Smile and say ‘thank-you’ for just about everything. To establish a habit of gratitude, whenever someone does something that affects you, place a big smile on your face and verbalize a heart-felt “thank-you” even if that person isn’t around to hear it. Whether it is expressing gratitude to the curbside refuse removal technicians, to your dog for wagging its tail when you walked into the room, to your children for remembering to wear underwear, to the person who planted a tree years ago that now provides you shade—even to the person who stole your front parking space and gave you the opportunity to walk across the parking lot and get some more exercise. Even negative events have a positive side to them if you choose to see them. Everything that affects your life can be met with either a grateful heart or a thankless heart—the choice is entirely yours to make.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie
Assignment A: Create a list of at 10 additional ways to show gratitude. You may not repeat any of the activities mentioned during this course.
Assignment B: Choose one of the strategies mentioned in this lesson and do it. Write a paragraph explaining how it affected your life and the lives of those you showed gratitude towards.