How Gratitude Can Help You Be Truly Thankful This Thanksgiving

How Gratitude Can Help You Be Truly Thankful This Thanksgiving

Sponsored Content From Storey Publishing

Learn how being deeply grateful can positively impact all kinds of relationships this holiday season with this excerpt from Wake Up Grateful.

Typically, when we think of being more grateful in our relationships, we focus on expressing gratitude for the things that people do for us or give to us—the unexpected kindness, the gesture of support, the thoughtful gift, the fabulous meal. Getting better at offering this kind of gratitude is a worthy aspiration; reciprocity is a mighty energy exchange. Whenever we do express thanks, the more specific, personal, sincere, and creative we can be is what will make the gesture most meaningful for those we seek to acknowledge.

Yet thanking people for what they do for us is only a small dose of the healing medicine that our appreciation can offer. A grateful orientation invites us to focus on appreciating people without them having done anything to benefit us directly. To cultivate a deeper recognition of gratitude for someone’s existence—not for something tangible they have done or given—is a different focus. While this may seem a slight distinction, it is actually a significant difference in approach—one that is not transactional but grounded in poignancy and vulnerability. We recognize that the people in our lives are true gifts, impacting us in large and small ways. We understand their presence as a blessing that could be otherwise, and someday will be.

Sharing appreciation for others from gratefulness rather than simple gratitude allows us to more fully celebrate the exquisite existence of the people in our midst. In this way, we open our hearts to see and acknowledge our vulnerable ties of interconnection. When we seek to express forms of appreciation that transcend gratitude based on what we are “getting,” the sentiments will sound and feel different as they are offered and received:

Acknowledge that people have endless options about how they can share their time and hearts. No matter the relationship, choice is involved—and the choice is either re-upped or not. Try acknowledging this fact with words: “I am grateful you are in my life.” Or, “I am so grateful you choose to be with me today.”

Recognize that people are distinct from you, individuated in a constant process of becoming themselves. Being seen and accepted as a distinct human being matters a lot in relationships, not simply being appreciated for how we benefit one another. Recognizing that another person is a unique, ever-changing human, you could say, “I am grateful for who you are.” Or, simply, “I appreciate you.”

Affirm people and help them know that they are seen for how they move through the larger world, not just how they impact you. Focus on the specific attributes of someone. With an eye toward particulars, you could say something like “I am so grateful for how kindly you treat strangers, the creativity you bring to your work, the integrity of your choices, the ripples of joy you leave in your wake.”

When you recognize the true gifts and opportunities of relationship, with whom do you feel moved to connect? What are some things you might say to offer meaningful appreciation?

What are some habits, patterns, or beliefs that steal your capacity to be fully present in your relationships? What commitments can you make to increase your availability?

This text is excerpted from Wake Up Grateful © 2020, 2023 by A Network for Grateful Living. Used with permission from Storey Publishing. To learn more please visit

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