November is often when we take stock of what we’re grateful for. Maybe you’ll even take a few seconds to share what you’re thankful for around the Thanksgiving table this year.
But how often do we actually take time to show our gratitude directly with those who have influenced us? Grace Gregg, an OhioHealth social worker who coaches patient care associates in gratitude and resiliency, explains why showing gratitude is important and offers tips on how you can share thanks with those close to you.
How to express gratitude in two easy steps
“Gratitude is about recognizing the people who have made a difference in our lives, the people who have positively influenced us,” says Gregg. “Giving and receiving gratitude is an important part of resiliency, which is your ability to cope with stress in a healthy way and bounce back from adversity.”
Gregg says adopting healthy behaviors are also part of resiliency — eating right, exercising, getting good sleep — “but it’s also important to strengthen your personal relationships and have meaningful interactions with people.”
You’re probably thinking of someone you’re grateful for right now, but what’s the right way to share it? Gregg says it only takes two steps and about 15 minutes to write a note of gratitude. “After you’ve picked the person you’re writing to, spend seven or eight minutes writing about what they did for you — explain why what they did was important in your life, and how it made you feel. For the second part, write down what their actions say about who they are as a person.”
Once you’ve finished gathering your thoughts, you can send them to the person you’re grateful to, or call them and read it!
Gratitude is good for the giver…
“Reflecting gratitude is a process that involves mindfulness and self-reflection, an acknowledgment that we are built up through the actions of others,” says Gregg. “It helps you recognize those who have shaped you into who you are, and it reminds you that you’re not alone.”
…and the receiver.
“When I was starting out in social work, I was told, ‘You don’t ever know how something you say or do will affect someone else down the road,’” says Gregg. “A friend of mine who works with troubled teenagers said those same kids have come back in their late 20s to find him and tell him what an impact he had on their lives, just by showing them they could make different choices.”
Gregg encourages people to share gratitude with aging family members or loved ones in hospice, too. “It means a great deal to people to know that they made a difference in someone else’s life, to know that they’re leaving something behind, that you value the gifts they gave to you.”
Show your gratitude today
“We can’t control the past and we can’t predict the future, but we can make a choice to do something good today and to thank those who have helped us,” says Gregg. “My advice is to take advantage of the moment. You never know how your interactions will go on to change a person’s life, and the people who have changed your life may not realize how grateful you were for it. It’s good to recognize that today.”