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Seniors and Gratitude II – 6 Ways of Expressing Gratitude


Last week I started a series on gratitude, beginning with five benefits of thankfulness or gratitude. For my second installment, I’m sharing ways we can show our gratitude. First, though, I think maybe we should begin with a workable definition, one we can all work with and, hopefully, agree on. When I googled “gratitude definition” it pulled up only 86 million references, so I’m guessing gratitude might be important. The best definition happened to also be the first and said that gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”


Before we look at ways of showing gratitude, I feel it beneficial to first examine the elements of our definition. I promise to not go into any lengthy or extended discussion, but I do think it’s important to at least highlight some things. First, for purposes of this article and not wishing to go on an exploration of proper grammar, gratitude, and thankfulness are interchangeable. Second, there is an underlying understanding or sense of awareness of what we have received, tangible or otherwise. Third, it invokes in us an appreciation of what was received and a desire to show and return that kindness either to that same person or pay it forward to others. It is these elements, awareness, receiving something, and a desire to return the kindness, that leads us to express gratitude. Today, we will look at 6 ways we can express gratitude.


  • Verbalize – Writing in Positive Psychology, Elaine Houston, a behavioral psychologist, states “words are powerful and the simplest, most direct, way to express gratitude.”


  • Write a note – Bestselling author, Kevin Daum, writing in Inc. Magazine, states “the most meaningful and effective way to show gratitude is to send a handwritten thank-you note.” The time taken to compose a handwritten note and mailing it goes a long way toward expressing gratitude and impressing the recipient.


  • Journal Maanvi Singh, a freelance multimedia journalist, writing online for NPR, cites several studies correlating the positive physical and emotional benefits received from keeping a daily gratitude journal.


  • Be courteous Jacqueline Whitmore, author, business etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, writing online for Entrepreneur Magazine, states we should all “treat others with the same level of courtesy you expect to receive: smile, show kindness, exhibit patience and listen.”


  • Don’t complain – Complaining is a negative emotion that robs us of positive energy. Writing for Psychology Today, Thomas Lickona, Ph.D., says it is better to seek a positive way to deal with stress or a disappointment.


  • Be patient Anna Newell Jones, founder of the blogsite,, shares “patience is not everyone’s virtue but give it your best effort to remain patient with those you love and remember that everyone has their own struggles.”



Obviously, there are more than six ways to express gratitude. This list is just a teaser to all the ways we can show our gratitude or thankfulness. If nothing else, I hope it encourages you and the senior(s) in your life ways to express gratitude as a way of being healthier and more independent.