Beyond the Thankful Thirty: 5 Ways to Bring Authentic Gratefulness into Your Life

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1. Write a thank you note!

I have given myself permission to not write dozens of thank you notes after our wedding, baby shower, or every birthday party. Even though I am thankful, I find it wasteful and forced by society or generational expectations. There is still something to be said for a handwritten note given to a person who’s helped you or made a difference in your life. Maybe you could write one for your spouse, your boss, your best friend, the landlord?

2. Be grateful by serving someone else.

Maybe you could make your thankful thirty a month of purging and donating your excess. Maybe you know someone who just had a baby or a surgery or a loss; you could rake their yard or take out their trash or do some grocery shopping for them. Send a care package to someone you miss. It’s not hard to add in a few extra minutes of effort when you’re already visiting someone or doing your own chores.

3. If there’s something you need, try to make it yourself.

My role model, Mom Tiger of Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood says it best, I think. Stuff has always been an area where I struggle. We’re moving into our first home this week, and I am consciously thinking of ways around buying a finished product from a chain store (ahem, Target). Example: I want outdoor furniture, so I’ve been saving tutorials for how to DIY from wood pallets, cement blocks, and simple planks of wood. This helps me get creative from a materials perspective as well as a budget perspective.

4. Make an effort to say, “thank you, I appreciate you.”

Sometimes it feels awkward, because then we’d have to admit that someone is doing something they don’t actually need to do. And that can make us feel vulnerable or like we should be able to do that thing without help. My advice here is, see yourself through their eyes. Whatever they’re doing for you, from helping you move on their day off to complimenting your haircut, say thank you! Tell them you appreciate their efforts or the way they’re sowing into your life. You’ll feel any negative feelings melt away when they smile.

5. Spend time with people you love.

I mean quality time. No screens. No shop talk. Just be together. Spend an afternoon playing board games with your family. Go for a brisk noon hike or walk with a friend. Take your kid to a coffee shop and just sit there with them; I just did this yesterday with my two-year-old and I loved hearing her voice singing songs stuck in her head and the way her eyes peep up over the table when she sits in the adult-sized chair. Laugh together. Let out your inner child and play! Cook a meal or bake a dessert with your partner or kiddo. Maybe the person who really needs some love in your life is you – take a bath, take a solo walk, journal, break out the project you’ve been meaning to get around to, read a freaking book! You know what brings your soul nourishment, so just set aside a few hours one week and do it with someone, or just your own self.

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