Each new year brings new reasons to be thankful, and this year will likely be no exception. Each of us experiences moments of gratitude throughout the year, but, with our busy schedules, lengthy to-do lists, and technological distractions, we don’t always express our thankfulness as often as we’d like. And, all too often, it can feel more like an obligation than a celebration.
Shifting how we think about gratitude is one of the best ways to bring more of it into your life. Rather than thinking of it as an obligation ⎯ those thank you notes a looming task on the to-do list ⎯ consider each expression of gratitude as an opportunity to love. The world is forever in need of more love, and what is gratitude, if not a form of love?
And, just like other forms of love, it’s great to feel it, but it’s even greater to express it. Most of us forget, from time to time, to express the love or gratitude we feel, but, this year, let’s make an effort to avoid missed opportunities to share our appreciation. This year, let’s do what we can to put more gratitude ⎯ and love ⎯ into the world. Here are four go-to ways to get that gratefulness started:
SAY IT (AND MEAN IT)
This might sound obvious, but how often do you find yourself say a quick “Thanks!” without actually feeling the words? How often do your tone of voice and body language and eye contact really match how grateful you feel? The simple act of saying the words isn’t enough. In order to truly express the underlying love in your gratefulness, it’s important to be enthusiastic and engaged when you say, “Thank you!” Convey how thankful you are for looking someone in the eyes, smiling, doing whatever comes naturally to you to express that you’re truly filled with love and appreciation for that person.
GO OUT OF YOUR WAY
Another excellent way to express your love through gratitude is by going out of your way for someone you care about (or even a complete stranger!). We’re all leading busy lives, but think about how much love you can put out into the world if you simply pause, look around, and see if there’s someone you might be able to help out? Consider those people in your life that you love and care about. Is there a small, loving act you can do for them to show your appreciation? Whether it’s a phone call to your mom to ask, “How’s your day going?” or offer to help your partner with a project, there are so many little ways you can express gratitude for those around you. “Thank you” doesn’t always have to be expressed verbally; sometimes going out of your way and doing something kind can just as effectively convey your appreciation.
SEND UNEXPECTED THANK YOU’S
When it comes to email inboxes and mailboxes, most of us have grown accustomed to seeing requests and bills and new items to add to our to-do lists. Rarely do we come across something sent to us purely as a reminder that someone is thankful for our work or presence ⎯ but how amazing does it feel when you do? Make others lives a little better ⎯ and spread more love ⎯ by making it a habit to send unexpected emails, notes, and text messages to those you love. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to tell someone how thankful you are to have him or in your life, and it can have a hugely positive impact. Don’t wait until you have a good reason to express your gratitude. Do it as often as you can, and in unexpected ways, and you’ll invite even more love into your relationships.
TREAT OTHERS HOW THEY WANT TO BE TREATED
You’ve probably heard the saying, “treat others how you want to be treated,” but an even better saying is, “treat others how they want to be treated.” Doing this requires more effort ⎯ you actually have to figure out what others like and need ⎯ but it’s one of the absolute best ways to use appreciation to express love. By paying attention to what others value and want, you’re showing others that they mean enough to you to be worthy of your attention and presence. One of the most important ways to show your love is to be appreciative of others’ needs and to take your observations and apply them, even when it might not come easily to you. Treating others how they would like to be treated is one of the best ways to express your love and your appreciation.
No matter how you choose to express your gratitude this year, the important thing is not to keep quiet about how thankful you are, particularly with those you love. Whether through words or actions, make sure others know how appreciative you feel. Gratitude is love, and the more you express it, the more loving your relationships will become ⎯ and isn’t that really what we all hope for in the year ahead?
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designer living in a suburb of Washington, DC. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. She is the author of the Every Day Matters 2018 Diary – daily guide to help you stay inspired and organised every day of the year (Watkins, Desk £12.99/Pocket £6.99).