Applied Gratitude 101: Thanks Are for Giving

This year’s trip to Yosemite for Thanksgiving left me filled with gratitude for family and friends, and the majesty of our western landscape. Photo by Wes Chester

Applied Gratitude 101: Here are just a few ways of giving thanks in the season of gratitude, and celebrating the roles we play for each other in community. 

  • Be personal. Make time for a visit or phone call for those you want to thank. There is no gift more valuable than time. Ditto writing and mailing a card or letter. Taking the time to compose your thoughts, and communicate them clearly in writing leaves physical evidence of your thanks.
  • Be specific. Thanks are best when the exact reason is named. I really appreciate you driving me to the airport so early. 
  • Greet those you gather with this season. Put down the oven mitts, and greet friends and family. Honor both hellos and goodbyes to significant people in your life with the attention they deserve.
  • Return the favor. Sometimes there are people who make life more possible just through their presence. Honor this, by doing something that is simple but helpful, with them not for them if possible.
  • Be present in moments you share with those you love. Multitasking is a part of life for everyone at the holidays, but not during a conversation with an aging relative or rarely seen friend. Be here now.
  • Finally, Receive graciously. The hardest thing sometimes is to stay present and allow yourself to be thanked fully, for all those things you do for others. Take it in. Acknowledge to yourself that you make a difference in the lives of others. That is something to be thankful for.
And if you feel a need to give more than thanks, donate. 
  • Donate food or donate time to your local food bank.
  • Volunteering with city or state parks helps stretch their limited budget, and benefits the whole community. 
  • Pick a favorite charity and make a gift in the name of your loved one.
  • Clean up your favorite street, trail, beach or canyon.

If you are reading this note,  I am truly grateful for you, and your interest in the arts and healing, and the Expressive Arts Institute and Expressive Arts Foundation

_Wes Chester, MA, CAGS, Director, Expressive Arts Institute