5 Ways to Show Gratitude and Practice Kindness Every Day
Talk about Thanksgiving so often centers around the turkey, sides, and pumpkin pie that we lose sight of what it’s really about––giving thanks. It’s right there in the name of the holiday, but how often have you fretted about the cooking, looked forward to the eating, and planned for the long weekend, only to forget about the most important part of it all—gratitude!
Gratitude is something we should practice every day; it’s good for the soul. If you’ve fallen out of practice lately, Thanksgiving is a good time to push the reset button and get started again, but be sure to keep it going––whether it’s by jotting down what you’re grateful for in a journal, meditating on it, or just living it every single day.
Team MAED put together this list of five ways you can show gratitude and practice kindness in your daily life.
Send (Real) Thank You Notes
Remember the days when getting mail used to be exciting? Let’s bring that feeling back! Thank you notes aren’t just for thanking people for physical gifts. Use them to thank others for the gift of listening to you, being there for you, making you laugh when you needed it most. Choose gorgeous cards you’ll look forward to sending, dig out those art supplies to make your own, or even write a note on a piece of scrap paper––this is one of those situations where it’s truly the thought that counts.
Of course, if you don’t have the bandwidth to write and mail out a thank you note, a text is better than nothing. Whatever you do, be sincere and speak from the heart.
Delight in Random Acts of Kindness
Doing something kind for people at random? It can make all the difference.
Email a Fandango gift card to a friend who’s having a rough day to send them to the movies. Pop a few coins into an expiring meter to help a stranger avoid a parking ticket. Collect hotel toiletries and airline amenity bags and donate them to local shelters if you travel a lot. Surprise the person behind you and pay for their meal when you’re buying lunch.
One of our writers, Africa, shared, “On a day with a 97-degree heat index, my six-year-old and I spotted a mom and son waiting at the bus stop, with their faces dripping with sweat, while we waited at the stoplight. My son rolled down the window to ask if they wanted a ride and the mother looked at me. I waved for them to get in and it felt good to do something nice for strangers in my hometown.” Pulls at our heart strings.
Heal Through Gratitude
Another writer on the team had a premature baby who spent four months in the hospital earlier this year. She found that writing thank you letters to her daughter’s care team, bringing the NICU staff treats, and offering support and kind words to other parents in her situation helped her begin the healing process. Because mamas with babies in the NICU often neglect their own needs, she put together a basket of organic lotions, soaps, and sheet masks for them to take from when they needed a pick-me-up.
If you’ve been through a difficult or traumatic situation this year, saying “thank you” to the people who helped you through it––and helping others who are currently struggling––is an incredibly powerful thing.
Put the Social Back in Social Media
At this point, we’re all pretty well-versed in the ways in which social media can create toxic behaviors or insecurities, but it’s nice to remember that it can also do good when we focus our energy on using it positively. Instead of waiting for a birthday to let someone know you’re thinking of them, write a heartfelt post about what makes them special to remind them why they’re amazing. Even a meaningful comment left on an Instagram post––we’re talking more than dropping an emoji or “yaaaas!”––can make someone’s day.
Another of our contributors pointed out that social media is a great way to reconnect locally. Social media gets a bad rap for breeding isolation, but it can also allow you to tap into your local community in real-life ways. Remind your friends about the upcoming coat drive or write a post about your favorite woman-owned small business. Share your local food pantry’s wish list or arrange a meet-up with mamas who need some camaraderie.
If you get in the habit of practicing gratitude, it becomes ingrained in everything you do––it becomes second nature. When you cultivate gratitude, kindness flows.
MAED’s graphic designer, Vide put it best: “I strongly believe that the more you share, the more you have. The more you show gratitude, the more grateful you feel.”
Living gratefully means giving your time to others. Cook dinner for a mama who needs a break, call a grandparent, or volunteer for a cause you believe in. Compliment a stranger––a little “What a gorgeous dress!” or “I love your hair!” can go a long way. Say thank you when someone holds a door open for you. Give a small gift, just because.
I’m grateful for all the incredible women on MAED’s team! Africa, Ashley, Caitlin, Kiersten, Lauren, Megan, Samantha, Shaylin, and Vide, thank you for sharing your personal stories and thoughts for this article.