10 Ways to Express Gratitude in Your Life

Over the last two weeks I’ve shared articles about the 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Now that we understand the why and how of gratitude, we are left with the question: If gratitude is so important, how can you begin to show it? Below, I’ve detailed 10 ways you can begin to express gratitude.

Express Gratitude: Thank You Blocks

1. Say “thank you” more.

Start your practice of gratitude by saying “thank you” more in the workplace and at home. From 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace, I give the following suggestions:

  • Be specific. When thanking someone, be specific. “Thanks for your help,” feels less genuine than “Emily, thank you for your help on the design project this weekend.” This could also apply to the out-of-office environment: “Carly, thank you for doing the dishes tonight.”
  • Tailor your thank-you to the person. Some people do not like public recognition – in these cases, an email or handwritten note to show your appreciation may be enough. Others may want more public recognition, such as a thank you during a meeting or family gathering.
  • Be consistent. Consistently thanking and appreciating people for what they do will help build positive relationships, and make them feel valued. Feeling valued helps build trust and appreciation.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pinky Promise2. Make yourself a promise.

According to Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert in gratitude, research shows making a promise/oath/vow to perform a behavior increases the likelihood the action will be performed. Write your own gratitude vow and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day. Set a goal to express your gratitude at least five times a day, and check in with yourself before you go to bed.

3. Express gratitude: commit to your practice.

There will be days when you feel like doing anything other than finding reasons to be grateful, but pushing through these days will empower you and help you build the strength and resilience necessary to push through other challenges.


4. Allow yourself to be human.

It’s alright to miss a day once in a while, and it’s alright to feel grumpy about having to follow through on your commitment when it’s the last thing you want to do. We are human, we are not perfect, so cut yourself some slack if you do miss an opportunity for gratitude.

Boys on phones5. Put your phone away when you are with others.

According to Tiny Buddha, a popular website and blog, one of the easiest ways to express your gratitude for other people is to do your best to be fully present in their presence. Putting your phone away when you are with others will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them, and they may be more appreciative of your attentiveness.

6. Do something little for someone else.

This might include helping with the dishes when you go to someone’s house for dinner; telling a co-worker’s boss how they are doing a great job and are contributing to the company; giving your server or barista a larger tip than usual; praising someone on Yelp and/or recommending them to the people you know; or buying someone lunch or a treat to show your appreciation.

Express Gratitude: Superhero - compliment yourself

7. Compliment yourself.

Give yourself a compliment while you are looking in the mirror or write a compliment for yourself on a sticky note and place it somewhere in your house. In our society today it seems more “acceptable” to put ourselves down or refuse a compliment because it makes us seem humble. Rachel Yahne, an award-winning blogger and lifestyle writer, wrote The Scary Reason You Can’t Accept A Compliment. In her post she says, “We spend so much of our time putting ourselves down (using inner-monologue to tell ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough)…If we complimented ourselves more, we’d be more willing to take compliments from others. Not only would be better equipped to react and accept compliments, we’d actually realize there are traits about us worthy of complimenting.” This realization could help increase our overall self-esteem.

teach & model gratitide8. Model and teach gratitude.

According to the Positive Psychology Program, modeling is often the best way to teach any skill or trait to children, but, what about extending your gratitude practice to those around you? Researchers from Princeton University showed cooperative and altruistic behavior can spread from one person to another. Expressing gratitude may inspire other people to do the same.

9. Remember the challenges.

According to Robert Emmons, it is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced so you may be grateful in your current state. Remembering the difficult times compared to where you are presently helps create a contrast. “This contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.”

10. Keep a gratitude list, journal, or jar.

Taking the time to write down what you are grateful for can help reinforce positive thoughts, which is helpful because the brain tends to naturally focus on what goes wrong. According to the BYU School of Education, a gratitude journal can help us recognize opportunities to express our gratitude. As we notice the things we are grateful for, we will be more inclined to express gratitude to others, thus multiplying the positive benefits of our gratitude. Below are a few pointers on how to get started:

Express gratitude with a gratitude journalGratitude List/Journal

Pick a time when you will take a few minutes each day to write in you journal about things you are grateful for. Think of both your immediate and extended family. Think of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You may even think of the physical things in your life like your home, or your health.

Gratitude Jar

Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite coffee shop, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper (bonus points for colored paper!), and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a many of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of what is good in your life. To learn more about how this activity can enhance your life, you can read about it here.

Connecting the Dots

These 10 suggestions for ways to express gratitude in your life aren’t the only options out there. Be creative in your own way of expressing gratitude and showing appreciation for those around you. Wondering how you are going to fit another “to-do” item into your busy schedule? Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you have to do everything listed above. Even the smallest increase in your expression of gratitude can make a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

Thank you for reading!

Interested in learning more? Check out my article 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your personal expression of gratitude, or the expression of gratitude in your workplace, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 26th, 2017. See the full post here.