Can you believe it? It’s Thanksgiving’s half birthday! That’s right, Thanksgiving is only six months away. Each November, I love taking the time to review the past year and reflect on everything I’m thankful for. I know I’m not the only one. The blogosphere abounds with posts on gratitude around the holidays. But what about thoughts on gratitude and more importantly, acts of gratitude, during the other 10 months of the year?
You might be wondering what a post about gratitude is doing on a frugal living blog. This blog is called From Pennies to Plenty, but I firmly believe that having plenty is more than counting pennies and adding zeros to one’s bank account. Having plenty means feeling that one has enough to live comfortably, even without every available amenity or comfort. It’s state of mind, and one thing that promotes the feeling of having plenty is being grateful for the things we already have.
A while back, I discussed with my friend how fortunate we are. She just had a healthy baby girl who is happy and thriving. I’m reminded how fortunate I am every day when I talk to others who don’t have enough to eat, see the doctor, or keep a stable roof over their heads. I have a home, a steady job with health insurance, and plenty of delicious food to eat, among many other things. So instead of showing gratitude once a year at Thanksgiving, I remind myself to do it at least a month or more often if I can.
There are big ways and little ways to show gratitude, but I think all are appreciated and contribute to the feeling of a plentiful life. So here are 10 ways to show gratitude throughout the year.
Volunteering your time or services is an easy way to show appreciation and rarely involves breaking the bank. Common activities include working at a soup kitchen, visiting housebound seniors, cleaning up city parks and beaches, or reading at a neighborhood school.
One of the most common concerns about volunteering is not having enough time to make a regular commitment, but it’s possible to find volunteer activities to fit any schedule. Many organizations don’t require a regular or long-term commitment. Often soup kitchens will allow you to volunteer whenever you sign up for a shift. Lots of one-time events will need for volunteers for a day or a few hours. You can even find volunteer opportunities that can be done from the comfort of home. Many organizations need assistance with translation work, research, writing and editing, and so forth, which can all be done online.
2) Send a thank you card
While snail mail seems to be on the decline these days in favor of email and virtual greetings, nothing beats a thoughtful, handwritten thank you card. Imagine the surprise and happiness you feel when you receive a thank you card in the mail. The recipient of your card will feel the same way. And give yourself bonus points if you send a homemade card!
3) Show your gift being used
Have you ever given a gift to someone and wondered if they’re even going to use it? I know I have. Sometimes you wonder if the recipient is going to re-gift, return, or donate even the most carefully selected gift.
One of my favorite things to do is send a photo of me using what people have given me. I recently sent my aunt and uncle a picture of me using the hand soap and Tupperware they gave me for Christmas. I sent my friend a photo of the butternut squash soup I made after following a recipe she provided. Another good way to show your appreciation is to wear an item like a sweater or scarf when you see the person who gave it to you.
4) Cook a meal or bake a treat
For the cooking or baking inclined, an easy way to show appreciation is to cook a meal or bake a sweet treat for someone, especially if you know their preferred foods. Picking up a treat at the supermarket or bakery is a winning method too if you’re not into the culinary arts.
5) Give a compliment
If I asked you about the best compliment you’ve ever received, I’m sure you could recall the compliment and its surrounding circumstances pretty clearly. Compliments have such a strong, memorable impact on people. They’re free and easy to give. And there’s no limit to how many compliments you can give too.
6) Give a call or text just because
We’re probably all used to getting calls or texts when someone needs something, but sometimes it’s nice to receive a call or text just because. Just because someone is thinking about you and wants to know how you’re doing. That simple act of reaching out for a brief chat can make someone’s day.
7) Give a small, meaningful gift
After reading the 5 Languages of Love, I learned that some people’s love language is receiving gifts. These people feel appreciated and loved when they receive gifts. Whether or not you know your recipient’s primary love language, it sure is nice to be on the receiving end of a meaningful gift every once in a while.
8) Run an errand for someone
How thankful have you been when someone has offered to take on an errand of yours? Getting a few extra minutes to tackle everything else competing for your attention that day can make such a difference. So when you know your partner or co-worker is having a busy day, offer to do an errand or two to lighten his or her load. It can be as simple as offering to wash the dishes when you usually don’t, scrubbing the bathtub because your partner doesn’t like to do it, or picking up the children and dinner.
You can donate anything including time, expertise/skills, money, or goods. Do you have perfectly good clothes hanging in your closet that you don’t wear anymore? Someone else may get good use out of them. Some organizations accept just about all types of clothing and household items. Other organizations specialize in recycling specific items such as prom dresses for today’s teenagers or work suits for those looking for jobs.
10) Keep a gratitude journal
While keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t directly affect anyone besides you, it will open your eyes to the many things you can be thankful for in your life. I recently kept a list of 3-5 things for which I’m thankful every day for one week. It helped me to reflect on my daily activities and interactions with others each night, and in turn, changed my outlook for the better during the day. I actively searched for things to be grateful for and felt more appreciative for what I have at the end of the week’s exercise.
Reflecting on one’s blessings and showing gratitude is easy to do anytime of the year with these tips. Do you have more suggestions to share? If you have stories of when you were on the receiving end of an act of gratitude, I’d love to hear those too.