We’re getting close to Thanksgiving, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about gratitude. It’s interesting—if we think about it, most of us can come up with some things we are thankful for. Maybe we are thankful for our family, our health, or our job. When we think about these things, we might feel good for a moment, but usually the moment passes pretty quickly and we’re on to the next thing. Is there a way to experience the benefits of gratitude more consistently?
Express Gratitude to Others
One way to supercharge the positive effect of gratitude is to express it to others. I think that’s where some of us miss out on the benefits of gratitude. We keep it to ourselves. We think about the things we are grateful for, but we don’t take that next step and express our gratitude to others.
What About the Other 9?
There’s an interesting story about the importance of expressing gratitude in the Gospel of Luke. Here’s what happened:
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19).
Part of the reason why expressing gratitude is so important is that it strengthens a relational connection between two people. Relationships are important to our well-being and sense of meaning in life. When we take that next step to express our gratitude to the person we are thankful for, we strengthen that connection. It makes both people feel good. Don’t stop when you feel gratitude on the inside; take the next step and express your gratitude.
Take a few minutes and think about someone you are grateful for. Then, take the next step to express your gratitude. Call them on the phone, take them out for coffee, or mail them a letter of gratitude.