Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order,

confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

Melody Beattie

Life is hard for everyone. You can ease the burden of some of that pain by being grateful for the life and the blessings that you have, and by showing sincere appreciation for the people in your life. Everyone wants to feel as though they matter, as though their presence makes a difference.

Let’s press on, and see how we can do this better…

Let your children know you appreciate them

Your children, more than anyone else, need to see, hear, and feel your gratitude. Not only is it part of your responsibility to teach them manners, like saying “Please” and “Thank you,” but you are also the person who is responsible for nurturing them to grow into strong, secure adults who show their own gratitude toward others.

1. Say “Thank you” every time they hand you something, do you a favor, or listen to instructions.

2. Let the hugs, kisses, compliments and rewards be plentiful in showing your appreciation. Don’t know what to say? Here are a few starters.

  • Thank you! Great job.
  • I love the way you did that. Thank you.
  • You were so sweet to help me sort the laundry. Thanks.
  • Thank you for helping me cook dinner. Now we can enjoy our meal together.
  • Thank you for helping me clean the house! Thanks to you, I can get some time to relax!
  • Thank you for being you. I love you just the way you are!
  • I’m so happy we get to spend the day together!
  • I’m so glad you’re my child!

3. Thank and congratulate them for their wise choices when they make good decisions.

Thank your parents

It is important to show gratitude to your parents for their love and support throughout the years. You became who you are today because of the sacrifices your parents made for you.

1. If you aren’t very close to your parents, make an effort to reach out to them.

2. If you live far away, make the effort to call, Skype or visit them on a regular basis.

3. Talk about your fond memories and how you appreciate those experiences.

4. Offer to do things for them, like their yard maintenance or shopping.

5. Cook a nice dinner or go out to eat with periodically.

Show gratitude to your friends

As with other relationships, your friendships must also be nurtured and cared for. Even if you think that your friends already know how much you care for and about them, it’s still important to express it through words and actions.

1. Remember to say, “Thank you” for their kind thoughts and deeds.

2. Always be there when they need you. In this way, you’re showing your gratitude through your actions.

3. Send them a card, an e-card, a personal note or text for no other reason than to thank them for being your friend. This kind of surprise can go a long way.

Bosses need a “Thank you,” too

No matter how mean your boss may seem, it is still important to show your appreciation. Unfortunately, many employees never once say, “Thank you” to their employer. More often than not, the only things the boss or manager hears about are the problems, complaints, frustrations, and annoyances.

Because this is a business relationship, you may need to be careful how you handle this one. Overdoing it when expressing your gratitude, especially in a larger company, could be misconstrued as an effort to “score a few brownie points.” Many times, a sincere “Oh, thank you!” will suffice.

If your office or workplace is smaller and you enjoy a closer relationship, letting your boss know that you are grateful for your job because it has made a positive difference in your life is always appropriate and appreciated.

If you are the boss, let your employees see appreciation

If you’re the boss, you can raise morale significantly and create more loyalty, job satisfaction, and motivation by expressing your appreciation to your employees for their hard work.

1. In most employee surveys, cash is the number one reward sought by employees for company incentives. If your company can afford it, small gift certificates or bonuses for a job well done will show your gratitude for their extra efforts in a big way.

2. Recognition in front of their peers is also a great way to show your appreciation. Have an Employee of the Month ceremony where you present your chosen employee with a plaque or certificate. Also, display the awards in a special public place if possible.

3. Even if you can’t afford pay raises for outstanding employees, have a meeting to show your gratitude and give them a more advanced job title or responsibilities that recognizes their accomplishments.

There are certain groups of people in our lives that we unfortunately take for granted almost all the time. Make the effort! Take the time to slow down and express your gratitude for what these other people add to your life.

Who did you show gratitude to today?

Please join us tomorrow, as we finish up this short series on gratitude…

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shannonkringen/4786965539/sizes/z/in/photostream/