How often do we forget to thank people properly for all they do for us? This week, add some extra gratitude in your life by showing those you love how thankful you are for having them around!
If you are interested in gratitude, then you probably already know what a great impact it can have on our wellbeing, right? And one of the amazing things about it, is how gratitude also affects those around us, creating an upward spiral of positive feelings and actions.
Studies have shown that gratitude can actually affect people’s behavior, making them more altruistic and willing to help others. Not only that, but receiving even small demonstrations of thankfulness makes people more satisfied with even simple activities such as shopping and going to a restaurant.
So how can we add a bit more of gratitude to our daily lives?
Saying thank you more often
When we were kids, we were constantly reminded to say “thank you” whenever we received something. As a result, most of us are actually pretty good at thanking people for “obvious things” such as gifts, services or favors we receive.
However, there are countless, more subtle things, which we tend to take for granted and we rarely take the time to thank the people who make them possible.
As an example, it’s not so often that we stop to thank a friend for always being there for us, or we tell our parents how grateful we are for all the care they provided, or we say how wonderful it is to have certain people in our lives.
Even as adults, most of us are pretty bad at saying thank you for all of these. And the funny thing is that, in the long run, those subtle things might have a bigger impact on out happiness and wellbeing than many of the obvious gifts we receive and actually say thank you for.
That’s why this week we will practice saying thank you. In various ways!
Weekly challenge: saying thank you (in different ways)
This week we have a gratitude challenge which will not only help you identify things in your life that you are grateful for, but also ask you to thank the people who make them possible. It will provide you with a gratitude boost, and hopefully also bring happiness to those you interact with.
Before we begin
Before we start, grab paper and pen (or a computer) and sit down for 5 to 10 minutes to make a list of people you are grateful for. Just a quick brainstorming session, writing down everything that comes to your mind. You can think about:
- People you are glad to have in your life
- Great experiences you had together with family and friends
- Someone who has helped you a lot
- People whose work allow you to have a more comfortable life
- Those who allow you to do your work more efficiently
- And so on
Friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or even those familiar strangers who work in your neighborhood, workplace or favorite coffeeshop. All of them count!
When you’re done, have a quick look at what you wrote. That should put you in the right mindset and will serve as inspiration for what comes next! Keep the list somewhere safe and have a look at it whenever you think you should.
How many ways can you say “thank you”?
So here is our gratitude challenge: for the coming week, you’ll dedicate a little time every day to say “thank you” to people you are grateful for, but never had a chance to properly acknowledge.
Some might have done something for you, or maybe you’re just happy to have them in your life, or there are those who always impress you with an amazing job… You pick!
But there is a catch: In each of these 7 days, you’ll say “thank you” to a different person, and in a different way!
So let’s get to work!
Day 1 – Write a thank you note
Today you’ll just write a “thank you” note to someone. It can be a text message sent from your smartphone, a post-it note left somewhere they will see… Nothing complicated: just a short note, either electronic or handwritten. Very simple!
Be sure to deliver the note or leave it somewhere they will see it! Just writing a thank you note can be an exercise of gratitude for yourself, but here we also want to transmit this nice feeling to the person who deserves it!
Day 2 – Call someone to say thank you
This time you’ll get a bit more interactive: call a person you want to thank and say how grateful you are. Again, you might be grateful for something he did, or maybe you just want to say how great of a friend she is, or than a coworker for all the help… your choice!
You don’t have to call them just for saying “thank you” (although you might!!). You can always call for another reason and eventually mention your gratitude in the middle of the conversation. The important thing is: pick up the phone and let them know how you feel!
Day 3 – Writing a thank you letter
On the third day you will explore a bit of your writer side: Write a letter to someone saying how grateful you are. You can choose if you want to write an email or a handwritten letter, but I recommend using paper and pen: handwritten letters are so much more personal and authentic!
To deliver the letter, either leave it somewhere the person will find it or send it by (e)mail. Personally, I think receiving a handwritten letter by mail is super exciting, as it is such a rare thing nowadays! So I’d go for that.
Day 4 – Saying thank you personally
Time to get close and personal: Say your “thank you” face-to-face.
But don’t say just “thank you”. Elaborate a bit. Say what you appreciate but also why you think it’s a good thing and why you are thankful. Describing a bit your feeling can add a lot of meaning for the person who you are talking to.
Again, it’s up to you if you want to meet up just for that or if you will bring up the subject in the middle of another conversation.
Day 5 – Giving a thank you hug
Today we’ll get (just a little bit!) physical: Give someone a hug to show them how thankful you are. Did you know that hugging makes you feel safer, more relaxed, less anxious and less lonely? That is a lot of benefits for such a simple act, right? We should definitely hug more often!
Depending on the situation, you may or may not want to talk a bit and say what you are thankful for and why. I’ll leave that up to you to decide!
Day 6 – Giving a gift as a token of gratitude
Now it’s time to say “thank you” by giving someone a gift!
What kind of gift is completely up to you. It can be an object or an experience, and as fancy or as simple as you like! There is no need to complicate (unless you want to!): a chocolate bar, a flower or a drawing you made – all are perfect gist ideas!
Day 7 – Showing gratitude through action
They say actions speak louder than words, so today you should show your gratitude by doing something for who you want to thank. But try to avoid things you did in the previous days, such as writing a letter or getting a present).
Instead, you could think about cooking dinner, giving a ride to work, taking them somewhere special, doing a favor that you think will be appreciated… use your creativity!
If you want, mention why you are grateful to them. But in that case, just be careful that it sounds like you are showing appreciation, and not that you are trying to repay them for what they did!!!
Did the 7 days go by but you still feel like you have a lot more gratitude to share with the world? (We hope so!!). In that case, we have a bonus “task” for you:
Go up to someone who has job which is usually under-appreciated, and let them know how thankful you are for what they do.
This might vary a lot depending on culture and where you live, but I’m sure you can think of people who don’t receive nearly as many “thank yous” as they should for how much they contribute to our society.
Approach them with the purpose of showing your gratitude, and when you say it, mean it. I’m sure it will make his or her day!
Congratulations! You have completed our gratitude challenge!
We hope you have the feeling that 7 days were way too few, and that you want to keep thanking people around for all the amazing things they do! If that is the case, please don’t hold yourself!
And don’t forget to share your experience with us!
To continue learning…
If you want to learn more about gratitude, have a look at our list of inspiring gratitude TED talks, or check our gratitude guide. There we discuss benefits of being grateful including scientifically shown effects on health and wellbeing, and give you step by step information on how to start a gratitude journal.