Three Ways to Express Gratitude and Appreciation

At this time of year our thoughts drift to Thanksgiving and the people and the things in our lives that we're thankful for.

At least that's how it is supposed to go, but sometimes, when times are tough or extra busy it can be hard to remember that even if there are challenges, we have many things to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude one of the surest ways to not only feel more encouraged, but it also helps in attracting more positive things and people into our lives.

On a personal note, I must admit that I have a bit of a perfectionist streak and when I combine that with my critical thinking skill it can be easy for me to first focus on what's not right and how to fix or improve something. Although my problem solving skills can be a powerful ally and tremendously helpful in my coaching business, it's easy for me to dismiss or simply overlook what is good or right as I dig into fixing mode. I've found it helpful to stop and really consider all I have to be thankful for and appreciate.

I'm not sure who said this first but I've heard it enough to believe it... "if we want more in our life - we need to first appreciate what we have."  

So here are a few simple ways to express gratitude and appreciation:

1. Tell the people in your life that you appreciate them

This the easiest one for most people, so let's start here. Look around and tell the people in your life, whether friends, family, or people you come in contact with on a regular or not so regular basis that you appreciate what they do.

Whether it's the friendly check-out clerk at the grocery store, waitress or the newspaper carrier, thank them for doing such a great job.

How about your spouse, partner, parent, child or friends? Stop and express appreciation to your loved ones just for being in your life!

2. Be grateful in your business life

Extend that sense of gratitude to your business life. Whether it's your employees, your boss, your coworkers, or your clients, let them know how much you appreciate them.

As well, be sure to express appreciation to the people who provide services for you like accounting, web or graphic design etc. Most people feel underappreciated, and if you tell them how much you value them, they'll appreciate you right back.

And don't forget about former clients. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to send them a thank you note for having been your client and how much you appreciated their business.

Resist the urge to include a call for action or offer. If they have need for your services, they'll know where to find you. And they may well think of you when they could next use your help, but don't make that the reason you contacted them.

3. Create a gratitude list or journal

Once you have expressed gratitude for people in your life, it's time for the next step: The gratitude list or journal.

Create a list of things in your life that you are thankful for. Don't feel that they have to be big things. The fact that you can open your eyes in the morning, get out of bed, have a hot shower and look at yourself in the bathroom mirror is probably something you take for granted. Why not realize that this is not a given, and express your gratitude.

The coffee you have for breakfast is another item that could go on your list. Imagine what it took to get that coffee to you, perfectly roasted, and ready to wake up your taste buds.

One of my favorites to be thankful for is hitting a green traffic light or finding a parking spot at the door, especially when I'm late and rushing to a networking meeting.

Go ahead and continue this line of reasoning with everything you touch, consume, or enjoy in other ways. You could be busy for days. And you should be.

But don't get carried away. Keep it simple, start small. Find 10 things today, then another 10 things tomorrow, and repeat until you get into the habit to see things that make you feel grateful every day.

As I work on my "Make Meaningful Connections" challenge throughout October, I find that expressing gratitude is a powerful way to connect and keep in touch with people.

And as you give thanks to the people in your personal as well as your professional life, and nurture that habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you'll find that you'll have more and more things to feel grateful for.

Don't be surprised if you start having nice things show up, like an unexpected new client, a referral, people attracted to you and wanting to help or connect. That's one of the most rewarding things about expressing gratitude and appreciation - it comes back to you with dividends.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone! Eat Turkey....