When it comes to gratitude, there are two main parts. The first is figuring out what you are grateful for, and the second is showing your appreciation. Both are important, albeit in different ways.
There are many benefits to appreciating others. For example, thinking about the positive aspects in your life can make you happier. Rather than focus on your problems, counting all the ways that other people help make your life better makes you think about, well, how your life is better.
Thinking about what you are thankful for, particularly as part of a morning routine, can help set the tone for the day. Rather than, say, being upset about being stuck in rush hour traffic, perhaps you will be grateful for having a car in the first place. That improves your mood, reduces stress, and improves the chances of making you and the people around you happier.
Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes a tradition?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are you optimistic about?’
But there is a second part to appreciation, and that is showing it to others. The benefit in this case is external rather than internal. Expressing your gratitude to someone else is designed to make the other person feel good.
Imagine how you would feel if someone were to approach you, and thank you for some way you played a positive role in their life. Wouldn’t that make you feel good? You could have that same impact on someone else.
If you happen to show your appreciation in a public way, you may also inspire others, beyond those who you are directly thankful for. That someone may think about what they are thankful for, making themselves feel good. And then they may express it to someone else, increasing the amount of happiness in the world.
In America, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it may be helpful to go beyond simply asking what you are thankful for. In addition, think about how to express that gratitude, whether that is at the Thanksgiving table, in a private conversation, through an email, or some other method. How could you show your appreciation for others more?