Now that the New Year is here, why not take some time to appreciate everything you have in life?
Joseph Shrand, MD, a Harvard psychiatrist and author of Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World, advises taking a moment to remind yourself to be grateful not just for the things you have, but for the people in your life as well.
“In our heart of hearts we just want to be valued by another person,” he says. “Being valued is the essence of gratitude.”
Even if your act of appreciation isn’t rewarded in the moment, Dr. Shrand says it can influence people in amazing and remarkable ways. So by all means let people know how much you appreciate them.
Dr. Shrand offers 5 simple yet surprisingly powerful ways to express your gratitude.
Write a letter
Once a week, send a letter or email thanking someone who has done something for you. It can be for something big or something small, something recent or from a long time ago. Whatever it’s for, taking those few minutes to let someone know how you feel will make them feel appreciated. And you’ll be amazed how much it will lift your spirits too, says Dr. Shrand.
Pay it backwards
Buy a cup of coffee for the person standing behind you in line at the coffee shop. This simple act of kindness can make the person’s day and may encourage them do the same for someone else. Dr. Shrand says he always treats a policeman or fireman whenever he sees them buying coffee as a way to say thanks for their bravery and dedication.
Say an unexpected thank you
Express appreciation to people who do important jobs, but are often taken for granted. For example, call your local veterans association to acknowledge their service or give the superintendent of your child’s school a call just to tell them what a great job they’re doing. As Dr. Shrand rightly points out, your praise will mean a lot.
Be grateful for you
Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back every now and then. Not that you need to buy yourself a gift or anything–but taking a moment to recognize how hard you try and how much you do for others can sometimes be enough to ease stress and self-doubt. Other people are worthy of appreciation, and so are you, says Dr. Shrand.
Form a circle
Consider starting a new tradition: The gratitude circle. Basically you just gather together at bedtime so each person can say a few words of appreciation for their loved ones. Dr. Shrand says this is a wonderful reminder of how important and loved you are. If you don’t have loved ones nearby, jot down a few words of thanks in a gratitude journal you keep by your nightstand. Either act guarantees sweet dreams.
For more on this topic:
- Life Spirits, Ease Stress with Gratitude and Walking Meditation
- Showing Gratitude for Partner’s Generosity Strengthens Bonds
- What the Stars are Most Grateful for