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How to be Grateful: 20 Authentic Ways to Appreciate and Express It

Learning how to be grateful is such a life-changer. After all, gratitude is a pretty powerful emotion that can turn your life around for the best.

how to be grateful

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.

Contrary to the opposite of gratitude, which is unappreciation, gratitude will lift your spirits.

When you lack gratitude in your life, you always tend to complain and see things in the worst outlook. 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 everything feels heavy lately, maybe all you need is a bit of gratitude in your life.

[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.

When you’re grateful, it makes you feel good about the things you have in your life. But without it, you’ll always complain about the things you lack. 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. [Read: How to show your appreciation to someone and express your gratitude]

Why is gratitude so important

Gratitude is truly an underrated emotion but it can turn around your life. When you’re filled with gratitude, your entire mindset and outlook change. You become grateful for everything, even if your situation isn’t necessarily perfect. In fact, even if you’re in a difficult situation, gratitude can make you feel at ease about everything.

It means you’re able to be appreciative of the people and things around you, even when you’re in pain. Gratitude truly is one of the most essential emotions you can feel, which is why learning how to be grateful can turn your life around so much.

Also, it makes the people in your life feel more loved than they already do, all because you show your appreciation for them. [Read: The right ways to show your appreciation for someone and express your gratitude]

How to be grateful and show your appreciation

Being grateful goes beyond the surface level and is more than you think. It’s 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 every day. [Read: Secret to happiness – The uncomplicated guide for a happy life]

1. Say thank you

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. This should be the primary thing that comes to your mind when thinking of how to be grateful.

It might seem like nothing to you, but these two words can make someone’s day. So go ahead, say thank you to the people around 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. The reason why it’s so hard to be grateful is we expect things to go a certain way. But there will always be things out of your control, and that’s okay.

If you want to have gratitude in your life, drop your expectations. You cannot be picky when it comes to showing appreciation or actively being grateful. [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 they intended to do something nice for you is still something to appreciate. You might’ve heard the statement “it’s the thought that counts” and as cliche as this all seems, it’s true. Even if the outcome wasn’t how you expected, appreciate the fact they tried their best.

4. Take the time to be thankful

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.

Even if you’re not where you intended, appreciate everything in your life. 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. [Read: 100 completely overlooked, yet awesome things in your life 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.

Doing volunteer work is a great way to learn how to be grateful as you’ll be reminded just how fortunate you are with everything you have. Most importantly, it’s a great way to give back to the needy and provide them with what you can give. [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 are simple acts that will make the people around you feel loved. It’s a way for you to let them know how much you appreciate them through these minor gestures.

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. By returning the favor, you’re showing them how much you appreciate them in your life.

We often do things for the people we love without expectation for anything in return. But that doesn’t mean you can’t return the favor. If anything, they’ll love the fact you even thought of doing something for them.

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. No matter how small or minor the gesture might be, it can still touch someone’s heart.

So 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.

9. Communicate

Ah yes, communication. While actions do speak much louder than words, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t compliment someone or tell them directly how grateful you are for them.

Even if you assume they already know, it would still make their heart soft, we promise you that.

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. How else can you best show your appreciation for someone rather than combining your actions with your words? [Read: 25 love-filled ways to say “I appreciate you” without using words]

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 every day is a form of meditation.

There’s a reason why everyone is creating a gratitude journal nowadays. That’s because people know how powerful gratitude can be in turning around your day. It sets your mood and encourages you to focus on the right things, the things that really matter.

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. If you’re grateful for someone, what better way to make them feel your appreciation than by spending time with them?

It makes you feel better about yourself and reminds you of how much love and care you have in your life. Also, it makes for the best memories!

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. Again, we can’t control everything that happens. So the best thing you can do is to let go of the things you aren’t grateful for and stop focusing on them.

There will always be something to complain about, but there are more you can be grateful for. If you want to learn how to be grateful, keep this in mind. So instead of letting a jerk that cut you off on the highway ruin your day, just let it go. [Read: How to think positive and reprogram your mind to stay positive]

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.

You need to be capable of finding the good in everything if you want to know how to be grateful. Otherwise, you’ll be pulled down by all the bad things that happen regularly. [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. [Read: 12 easy ways to change your life and find your happiness]

16. Spend time with nature

As cheesy as this sounds, spending time around nature is a great way to learn how to be grateful. When you’re surrounded by so much negativity, you can often forget that there are good things as well.

So if you want to be reminded of the beauty and magic of life, spend time around nature. Visit the beach, spend time with trees, take a hike! Also, changing your environment can help you reflect better and become more grateful.

17. Find a silver lining

You might not find it right away, but there is always a silver lining. Even when you’re dealing with something almost impossible to face, a silver lining helps you be more grateful for things. So maybe you lost a job, but at least you get more time to reflect on what you really want out of life.

Maybe you had a flat tire, but you met a new friend out of that inconvenience. There is always a silver lining in every situation, you just need to know where to look! [Read: How to be positive – Stop the downturn and find the silver lining!]

18. Thank yourself

Learning how to be grateful isn’t just for other people around you, but also yourself. We often do so many things for everyone that we forget to thank ourselves in the process.

So go ahead and don’t forget to thank yourself for everything you’ve done! Whether it’s your accomplishments or the things you’ve done for yourself, say thank you!

19. Give genuine compliments

You know what the best thing about compliments are? They’re so simple to say, yet can make someone’s day so much. So the next time you come across a friend or a family member, say a compliment!

It doesn’t have to be anything major or outrageous. It can be how they look that day or how you always admire how ambitious and determined they are.

Compliments are a simple yet effective way on how to be grateful for the people in your life, so don’t take compliments for granted! [Read: The best compliments for girls – 25 genuine lines she’ll love to hear]

20. Look outward rather than inward

Do you know why it’s easy to complain rather than be appreciative? We’re all selfish and self-absorbed by nature. You’d never admit this, but it’s true! Selfishness is human nature, and it’s in all of us. This is why when you intentionally look outward, you also practice gratitude in your life.

Looking outward triggers compassion and empathy, which are both emotions linked to gratitude! So if you want to know how to be grateful, look externally!

[Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

So, how to be grateful?

You don’t need to appreciate the things in your life that aren’t adding anything positive. So let go of them. Being grateful requires reminding yourself of the people and things you have around you.

So really take the time to observe the things you have. We can be so focused on our own narratives and problems, we forget what we have is so much more than what we lack.

How to be grateful? Learn to see the beauty in everything, including difficult situations. Also, wake up with the intention to be grateful, and that’s exactly how your day will go.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...