How to be Grateful: 15 Authentic Ways to Appreciate and Express It
Someone helps you. You say thanks. Is that how to be grateful? To show your appreciation for support and friendship, there is a bit more involved.
Whether you show it regularly or not, you are probably grateful for the people in your life. Whether that is your partner, your mom, your best friend, or even your postman knowing how to be grateful is healthy for you and incredibly kind to them.
Those who express their gratitude and show their appreciation daily are not only more of a joy to be around, but are happier overall. If you take the time to look at your life and think about everything you have rather than focusing on what you want or don’t have, you will feel a lot better. [Read: What actually makes you happy might surprise you]
How to be grateful
Being grateful is more than a simple act. It is truly taking the time to appreciate parts of your life, the people in your life, and what they do for you. If someone feeds your cat over the weekend and you give them a gift card to say thank you, sure that shows appreciation, but there is always more you can do to show how grateful you are.
Whether someone does you a favor, supports you, makes you laugh, or just brings something positive into your life, the best way to be grateful is to show your appreciation.
How to be grateful and show your appreciation
Being grateful goes beyond the surface level and is more than you think. It is not hard or difficult, but it takes focus and patience to truly become more grateful in your everyday life. But once you make a point to learn how to be grateful, you’ll be happier for it and grateful to yourself for making that change.
Here are some ways you can be more grateful everyday.
#1 Say thank you. Okay, I know, this seems quite obvious. It is still something so many people overlook. Whether you are saying thank you to someone holding the door open for you, your waiter for bringing extra napkins, or your partner for making dinner, those two words mean more than you think.
When you were growing up, did your mom ever say “no one ever says thank you?” Well, mine did and that always reminded me that when someone does something for you they don’t need something in return, just the recognition that they took time for you. [Read: How to transform your world and become a better person]
#2 Don’t have expectations. Yes, you can expect your partner to show you respect and for your boss to pay you, but a major part of being grateful is to appreciate everything, not just what you want.
If someone buys you a Christmas gift and it is from the dollar store, your first thought might have been why did they even bother? Yes, maybe it is not something you can use, but being grateful for the fact that this person went out of their way for you and thought about getting you something is what you are grateful for.
You cannot be picky when it comes to showing appreciation or actively being grateful. No matter the situation, understanding how to be grateful is about showing how thankful you are for anything and everything someone does for you. [Read: Unrealistic expectations that can ruin your love life]
#3 Appreciate the thought. Once again, the end result of a surprise, a gift, or a favor may not be exactly what you wanted, but taking time to appreciate that someone did something for you at all is what being grateful is all about.
You might be pissed that your partner did the laundry and shrunk your favorite sweater. But the fact that their intention was to do something nice for you is still something to appreciate. Not showing that cannot only discourage someone from doing sweet things, but can make you seem ungrateful.
#4 Take the time to be thankful. What does this mean? It means that you don’t just say thank you and be kind, but take time to think about what you are grateful for. Whether you are religious or not, before bed or upon waking up you can thank God, thank the universe, or whatever you believe in for what makes you happy.
Actively and mindfully be grateful for your family, your pets, that you have a job, and a roof over your head. This may seem odd, but taking even just five minutes to think about the things in your life that you are thankful for can make you a happier and more positive person. [Read: 100 completely overlooked, yet awesome things to be thankful for]
#5 Volunteer. Being around those who are less fortunate is a wonderful way to remind yourself of all you have. Those who don’t have as much are grateful for everything given to them, including your time. Seeing those who are struggling more than you be so appreciative may be what you need to truly realize how good you have it. [Read: How volunteer work can help you heal]
#6 Go out of your way. This is not a necessary step, but if you are able to do this, it can not only make the people in your life know how much you appreciate them, but it makes you feel good to do things for others.
If you are out running errands, pick up your partner’s favorite snack. If you’re out with a friend and it is raining, drop them off at the door. Then go find a parking spot. Bake brownies for your secretary or bring in donuts for the office. These might seem like superficial things, but these small gestures mean a lot.
Giving up your own convenience to do things for others, no matter how big or small shows them that you took the time to think about all they do for you and that means a lot.
#7 Return the favor. If someone helped you move, lent you an outfit, or even bought you lunch, return the favor. This is not about making things even or feeling like you owe them. It is about showing you would do the same for them.
Even just offering a ride to the airport or taking them to lunch can show them how you are grateful for whatever they did.
#8 Make small gestures. When thinking about how to be grateful we tend to go big. Buying someone a great gift, surprising them with tickets to their favorite band, etc. Small gestures can mean just as much, if not more.
Picking up dinner on the way home, filling up the gas tank although it wasn’t quite empty; these little things might seem pointless or slip your mind, but little things like this are what people remember. [Read: How to show your appreciation to someone and express gratitude]
#9 Communicate. Doing things for others and being aware of your appreciation is wonderful, but communicating is one of the most powerful ways to be grateful. Actually telling people how much they mean to you is a gesture that a lot of people overlook.
Saying thank you is part of it, but telling the receptionist at your doctor’s office how much you appreciate her kindness or telling your best friend how much her being in your life means to you is priceless. [Read: Follow these golden rules to evolve into a better person]
#10 Show and tell. This is not just a thing kindergarteners do, you can too. Telling someone you are grateful is wonderful. Showing them is also great. But doing both not only shows them your appreciation, but intensifies the gratitude you have within yourself.
#11 Journal. This is not going to be for everyone, but sometimes putting something down on paper is the best way to make it real or tangible. Taking time out to write down three things you are grateful for everyday is a form of meditation. And writing down why you are grateful for those things can be cathartic.
It reminds you of the positive things and people in your life. And on a particularly rough day, you can go back and read about all the best things in your life. [Read: 20 things to be grateful for you don’t appreciate enough in life]
#12 Spend time with those you’re grateful for. On top of gifts, small gestures, and sharing your appreciation verbally, spending time with those that make you grateful is the best. Not only will it make you happier to be with the people in your life that make you feel good, but it shows them you want to be around them.
#13 Let go of what you aren’t grateful for. One of the reasons we all struggle to be grateful now and again is the bad stuff. Traffic jams, staying late at work, your pet peeing on the floor, you name it, it happens. These things can bring us down and make us forget about all the good we have going on.
So instead of letting a jerk that cut you off on the highway ruin your day, just let it go. Focus on the good and try your best to release the bad.
#14 Find the happiness in everything. Yes, there is plenty of crap going on in the world, but trying to find the positive will do you wonders. The news is filled with heartbreaking stories, but taking time to focus on a cop helping a homeless man get a job, or a town coming together to help a family struggling is what can remind you there is good in the world.
It is easy to get pulled down by the bad news, but taking time to focus on the good and realize there are things to be grateful for is a great way to move forward with less anger. [Read: How to free your mind of anger and stop hurting yourself]
#15 Make social media positive. Social media is a great way to show someone you care. You can write how much you love someone publicly. You can tell someone how amazing they look. You can thank them for sharing their personal story. And the list goes on.
But along with the good, there is plenty of bad. To be grateful for the people in your life both on and off the screen, unfollow any accounts that don’t make you feel good. Purge the accounts that make you feel bad about yourself or make you angry. If you are friends on Facebook with someone that used to bully you, unfriend them.
You do not need to appreciate the things in your life that aren’t adding anything positive. So let go of them.
How to be grateful? By focusing on the good in your life, you can show your appreciation and gratitude and become a happier person overall.