In an article recently published by Harvard University – studies have shown that both feeling and expressing gratitude can be directly associated with increased levels of happiness, positive emotions, remembrance of good experiences, resilience in adversity, and strong relationships.
Gratitude is often easy to express, great to receive, and can truly benefit relationships – especially those that may be shifting or stressed due to difficult conversations, new challenges, and changed dynamics.
There are many ways to demonstrate gratitude. A common (and sometimes overlooked) way is to verbally state your appreciation. It is most beneficial if the tone is genuine, it includes specific examples of your appreciation, and is done at a time when it can truly be heard. Also, there are times when gratitude can be best given or received when written. Write those notes when it feels right.
Taking time to sincerely listen to someone or pay attention to something important is another way to say, “I see you and I value you and this moment.” Being available to others when needed can be a way to show the same. Sometimes specific help or support is not requested – but it can be important to be insistent and let others know you are ready and able to support. For example, “I know it’s been a hard day. I’m coming over Tuesday with a pot of soup and a listening ear. Will this work for you?” This can often be more well-received than “Let me know what I can do to help.”
For those who are care partners, being on the receiving end of gratitude can be meaningful. If you have noticed a loved one has stepped up as the needs have surfaced, take time to notice and say “thanks”. Brag on their efforts to others. Do concrete things to help with tasks needed. Call regularly to check in on them specifically. Take time to enjoy an activity together. Offer respite – if even just for a few hours. Send a care package. Find ways to say thanks and mean it!