How You Express Gratitude Matters

Written by on November 24, 2020 in Perseverance, Self-Determination


It’s Thanksgiving week and traditionally that means gathering with loved ones and expressing gratitude for all of the things we have to be thankful for.

Unfortunately, between financial hardship, personal losses, and increased restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many families are facing tough choices and changes to traditional holiday gatherings and celebrations.

Beyond the well-being of your immediate family, it’s understandable if you find yourself coming up short on things to feel thankful for this year.

But today – with a little help – I hope to inspire you to challenge your perspective on how and for whom you express your gratitude because the list is a lot longer than you may realize.

Following a Trail of Gratitude

In his inspiring and humorous TED Talk NY Times best-selling author A.J. Jacobs reflects on how he went from grumpy to grateful.

It began with a simple ritual to express gratitude for someone or something every night as the family sat down to dinner. One night his son pointed out that those they were thankful for had no way of knowing that since they weren’t there to hear it.

This sparked what initially seemed like a pretty simple idea. Jacobs challenged himself to personally thank every person who helped make it possible for him to have his beloved morning cup of coffee.

A globe-trotting journey that led to more than one thousand “thank you’s” ensued – and here he shares the life-altering wisdom he picked up along the way.


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

~William Arthur Ward

The Benefits of Expressing Gratitude to Others

There’s a wealth of research supporting the value of expressing gratitude as being uniquely important to psychological well-being, enhanced positive emotions, resilience, better coping skills, and an improved ability to manage stress and an increase in happiness.

Many people keep a gratitude journal – just writing it down is enough to make you feel warm inside – but actually expressing your appreciation to others is worth so much more.

While few of us are in a position to follow a gratitude trail the way Jacobs did, often the simplest of gestures speak volumes in expressing your appreciation to others.

Simply being mindful about saying thank you more often is the most direct way to show appreciation – and I’d like to emphasize the importance of eye-contact. 

This always matters, but especially when our smiles are hidden behind masks!

There are endless ways to show your appreciation online. Let a blogger know their article helped you, submit a positive review for a book that has inspired or entertained you, send a note of appreciation to a small business you frequent, or a message of support and encouragement to volunteer organizations in your area.

While writing a thank you note is a bit of a lost art; it takes almost no time at all but is a sincere expression of gratitude and something tangible the recipient can keep.

Things I’m Thankful For …

Everything about celebrating Thanksgiving this year feels weird. There’s more stress, anxiety over health risks, missing people you’d normally be drawn to.

But as much as 2020 has been the worst in many ways, it’s also shown us how we humans can be a lot better when we actually try.

I’m enormously grateful for the exhausted healthcare professionals who have struggled to save lives despite critical equipment, space, and staff shortages.  

But I’m also thankful to the sea of support and custodial staff who make it possible for them to do their jobs.

I am grateful to the cashiers in our local grocery stores for working on the front line to help keep us fed even during periods of quarantine, but also to the people behind the scenes who stock the shelves, clean and sanitize the facilities, and to those who deliver the food and supplies.

Thanks to those who are working to keep people who are unemployed,  homeless, or displaced due to the chain of natural disasters this year fed, and sheltered during this devastating pandemic. 

I am grateful for the example set by kids like Orion Jean in Fort Worth who may just be 10 years old, but he’s on a mission to help thousands of people across Texas by providing 100,000 meals to people in need by Thanksgiving Day.

“I was looking around at all of the things that have been going on, and everything negative we hear in the news,” Orion told CNN. “I knew that helping people could have an impact — it was what we needed right now.”

To Dr. Fauci for his dedication and efforts to overcome false narratives to keep us informed, and the teams of researchers working round the clock to come up with vaccines.

To the courageous firefighters who tackled the enormous wildfires this summer, and the disaster relief staff and agencies who have worked tirelessly amid a record-breaking hurricane season.

I am especially grateful to all the people who, despite the challenges and push back, are continuing to limit travel, honor social distancing, and wearing a mask – bless you!

Most of all, I want to thank members of the Emotionally Resilient Living community. You inspire me to be better.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, pathfinder, resilience coach, and chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here

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