I’ve printed this before, but here’s a favorite gratitude prayer of mine by the Dalai Lama, who tells us: “Everyday, think as you wake up, ‘Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.’ ”
5. Do someone a free favor.
Without expecting anything in return, do something nice for someone. Just something small. Get them a drink or a coffee, do a chore for them, offer to do an errand, anything they’d appreciate, really. Think of what the person likes, wants or needs, and try to do something (even something small) to help them. Actions speak louder than words, and doing something nice will show you’re grateful more than just saying it.
6. Give a little gift.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but a little gift can be a tremendous gesture. Here are 30 ideas.
7. Give someone a list of all they’ve done that you’re grateful for.
Take 5 minutes and make a list of 10 or 50 things you love about someone, or things they’ve done for you that you appreciate.
8. Acknowledge them publicly.
Who doesn’t love public praise? Find a way to acknowledge the contributions of someone, to show your gratitude, in a public way … in your office, among friends and family, on your blog, in your local newspaper.
9. Surprise them with kindness.
Actually, this is mostly the same as Item #5, but with a twist: surprise the person. That little extra step of surprising them can make a big difference. When your wife comes home from work, have a lovely dinner prepared. When your mom walks out her front door in the morning, have her car nice and clean. When your daughter opens her lunch pail, have a little note and a treat waiting for her. You get the idea.
10. Say thanks even for negative things in your life.
This is the hard part, in truth. When things go wrong, when we’re not happy, when people are mean to us, when we are worn down by the million slings and arrows of everyday life … we don’t want to say thank you. But in truth, this is the time when it matters most. If you’ve mastered the first 9 items on this list, you’re ready to master this one.
When life gets you down, when your hurt or angry or confused or frustrated, take a moment to stop and close your eyes and find things to be thankful for. Your health, your family, your job, the roof over your head, the fact that you’ll have a next meal, the beauty of the world around you, the good people in your life, your new Macintosh computer. Whatever you can think of, be thankful for them … and express that gratitude somehow. Realize that all is not bad in this world, and be happy for that.