Every day, we interact with other people—our family, friends, co-workers, even new acquaintances and strangers. Those relationships are an essential part of life, and nurturing them is an important step toward living a fulfilled life. One of the best ways to grow our relationships is through practicing gratitude.
Gratitude is powerful. It fosters a deeper sense of trust and connection. It shows that you value the other person and understand their needs. It’s a form of recognition, a way of saying “I see you and appreciate you.” And research has shown that gratitude contributes to incredible benefits in our health and happiness.
What makes gratitude such an effective catalyst for relationship-building? The secret lies in its reciprocal nature.
When we receive an act or words of gratitude, we feel good and we want to give it back.
That cycle of giving and receiving is a form of communication and cooperation. It moves in two directions, knitting a deeper intimacy and connection between people.
There are so many ways to convey your gratitude. If you want to go beyond the surface and truly deepen your own relationships, use these five tips to get started:
- Be specific and authentic
While a general “thank you” is never a negative thing, a genuine expression of gratitude will strengthen your bond. Make your appreciation meaningful and personal. Recall a specific moment a person helped you, or do something that you know they’ll love. And remember that authentic appreciation requires being grateful for what is, not what’s to come—that is, it’s not contingent on receiving anything in return.
- Focus on good qualities, not just deeds and actions
Share what you love about the person. Think about the person they are, not just what they do or have done. What qualities make them special? What parts of them are you most thankful for?
- Tell them how they make you feel
When we communicate our feelings and emotions, it often requires vulnerability, and when we are vulnerable, we can create space for a stronger, deeper connection. Be open to sharing how the person and their presence, support, or actions make you feel.
- Write it down
How often have you dismissed a compliment or kind word someone else said to you? On the other hand, how do you feel when you read a genuine thank you note? When we express our gratitude in writing, it can take on an even greater meaning. Receiving a physical note allows the recipient to fully absorb the message, keep it, and return to it.
- Show your appreciation
Although words have impact, you can also communicate gratitude through action. When you think of someone, do something to show it. Pick up their favorite coffee, deliver a small bouquet of flowers, share a book you think they’d enjoy, or offer to help them with a task or to-do. Consider their “love language.” How would they most enjoy receiving love and appreciation—a compliment, an act of service, time spent together, a small surprise or gift, a hug?
That being said, a daily practice of gratitude is more powerful than overt expressions. Building a deep, lasting relationship happens in the everyday, small behaviors—the cycle of giving and receiving that reinforces your shared vision and consistent support.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to show your gratitude and nourish your relationships. Use this time of year as a starting point and then continue the practice year-round, making it a part of your everyday life.
PUT IT INTO ACTION:
- Express gratitude to five (or more) of the most significant people in your life. How will you show your appreciation for them? When will you do this?
- Share a genuine “thank you” or kind compliment to a stranger you encounter at work, school, the gym, a store, a restaurant, or another place you frequent. Brighten their day and perhaps spark a new friendship.
Gratitude is a practice that has a powerful impact. Say, share, and show your appreciation for others. You might be surprised by the ways gratitude transforms your relationships, your mindset, and your life.
Adopting a daily gratitude practice is just one of the many healthy actions explored in our Foundational Growth Experience. With our eight-week program, you can discover a deeper purpose, revitalize positivity, and define a healthier and happier life. Start something amazing by committing to explore the next evolution of you. Sign up today!