“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude, its gratitude that brings us happiness.”
But what does gratitude really mean? Is there a difference between being grateful and showing gratitude? Hopefully by the end of this blog not only will you a better understanding of what gratitude really means but also have a few fun new ideas to help you express gratitude to those around you.
If you were to look in any ordinary dictionary you would find a simple definition of gratitude. Simply put, gratitude is an expression of thanks and appreciation, but to me, gratitude has a much deeper meaning. Gratitude goes beyond a simple “thank you.” It is an emotion accompanied by an act showing your thankfulness. Acts of gratitude are selfless, and done unconditionally to show others they are truly appreciated. Gracious people are not looking for anything in return for their actions.
I make gratitude an important part of my personal and professional life. There are many different ways that you can show how much you appreciate those in your life. In particular, I use communication via technology a lot of times in the form of bitmojis, written notes, a gratitude journal, and small gifts.
My two absolute favorite ways of showing gratitude are written notes and small gifts. I have an addiction to thank-you cards. There is nothing like buying a new pack of thank you cards to have in your back pocket whenever you need to spread the love. I like to buy the ones that have bright colors and cute images that I know will bring smiles to faces and positive vibes to days.
The cover of the thank-you cards isn’t what really matters, though – it is the message written inside. Although I typically like to write fairly lengthy notes, messages such as “I am so grateful for everything you have done for me,” or “I am so happy to have you in my life” can mean just as much. Short messages can also work in a professional setting. Common messages I use are “Your leadership means a lot to me. I am so grateful for the opportunities you have provided for me,” and “I am so appreciative of your guidance and support.” These short notes are a small way to leave a big impact. You never know what someone is going through, or how hard of a day they may be having. By leaving them a note like this you can brighten up their day as well as provide them with a sense of accomplishment and a confirmation of gratitude. If writing isn’t your thing and you aren’t the best at expressing your feelings, small gifts might be for you.
Small and thoughtful is always the way to go. You don’t want them to think your gift isn’t genuine and you also don’t want to break your bank. I like to stock up on tissue paper, and small gift bags so that I know I will always have one when I find a great gift. I frequent the dollar store for the tissue paper and sometimes plain colored bags. As much as I love to pick out the gift bags, the best part is choosing the gift. Most of the time I don’t go to the store intentionally thinking of a gift I need to buy someone. I will go shopping or browsing around and discover something I know that someone in my life will love and utilize. After I find an amazing item, I wrap it up and put it in a fun gift bag and either surprise the person with it by leaving it somewhere they will find or take it with me next time I know I will see them. Although the reaction is amazing to see, what matters to me is the way they feel and my hope is that they feel loved, cared for, lifted up, happy and ready for the rest of their day. How do you feel after receiving a gift or when you are having a great day? I know that even though I don’t like to admit it, I love getting gifts. The feeling I have when someone surprises me with something small just because they know I would like it, is something I want to share with my friends and family.
There are many ways to spread your gratitude and love. I like to start with simple text messages at least once a week to my friends and family. You can even make it something fun like “Fun Friday” messages where you send a fun quote or picture with your gratitude message every Friday. Another great idea is to do make a list that you add to every night before bed of those you want to send a note to by the end of the week or month. It seems hard sometimes to remember to tell people how thankful and grateful you are for them but it is a small and simple task that can make and have a huge effect. Don’t forget about the friends and family you have that might be farther away in distance. Small care packages or even just a written letter can travel everywhere that you can’t.
I want to leave you with a challenge. My challenge for you is to experiment this week with how you can and want to show gratitude. Ask yourself at the beginning or end of every day, “What am I grateful for today?” and from that answer, decide how you would be best at showing that. There is always something to be thankful for.