30 ways you can show gratitude every day

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The pursuit of happiness is a part of being human, and one of the best ways to reach that happiness is by being thankful and appreciative of what you have. When you pause to feel gratitude for life, friends, family, co-workers and even yourself, you notice just how much there is to be happy about. And a positive attitude actually has a lot of effects on your body and mind.

Many studies, such as the one done by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, show that gratitude has long-lasting effects on the brain, benefitting mental health and helping us avoid toxic behaviors and emotions. It might seem hard to feel gratitude every day, especially when the goings are tough, but there are plenty of small things you can do every day to try.

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Give compliments

Show your appreciation for others by letting them know what it is that you love or admire about them. You can compliment their intelligence, their skill at something, their ideas or their appearance. Knowing how to give a compliment is one of the easiest ways to be more polite.

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Listen actively

Not paying attention to what the other person is saying is one of the rudest things to do, but you should go one step further than just paying attention. Show the other person that you're listening and engaged in whatever is going on in their life by asking questions, expressing sympathy when needed and making them feel as though you truly do value their presence in your life.

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Keep a journal

A great way of feeling gratitude is to write down everything that you're thankful for. You can keep a gratitude journal in which you write things down every day or every night as a part of your bedtime ritual. It doesn't even have to be full sentences; "bullet journaling" is a great method in which you can just list everything in bullet points.

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Write a note

Writing down your feelings can be really cathartic, and jotting down those positive feelings will help you focus on the good in life. You can write a note to a loved one, or even yourself, with positive thoughts and affirmations.

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Leave a good tip

You should always tip your server a decent amount; in America, their wages tend to be lower with the assumption that tips will provide the rest of their income. Show your gratitude for great service by tipping especially well, and it'll make your day just as much as it makes theirs.

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Donate to charity

Express your gratitude for what you do have by sharing it with others. If you can, donate money to a charity you care about or drop off some (clean and in good condition) clothes at a local charitable thrift store.

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Volunteer your time

If you can't donate your money, any type of volunteering is an excellent way to help others in need. Hospitals, nursing homes, soup kitchens, shelters, animal rescues and schools are just some of the many places you can offer your time to help better your community and give back.

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Donate for health

Your health is another thing to be grateful for, and if you're in good health and able to do so, blood donations are a wonderful way to help out your community. You can also donate plasma or platelets. Since you must wait a certain amount of time between donations, consider donating money to a hospital or health-related volunteer service in the meantime.

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Visit the sick or elderly

If you have any sick or older relatives or loved ones, take some time to give them company and check on them. It doesn't have to be just people you know, however; hospitals and nursing homes love it when people visit their patients or residents as volunteers.

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Make eye contact

An etiquette lesson everyone needs to learn is that it's rude to avoid eye contact. When you're having a conversation or addressing someone, making eye contact proves that you are engaged in the interaction and paying attention to the other person.

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Apologize when you need to

Not only is it important to take responsibility for your actions, but also saying "I'm sorry" proves that you appreciate the person you've wronged and you're willing to make an effort to do better. Not apologizing when the situation calls for it is one of the toxic habits that may be damaging your relationships.

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Help out a stranger

If you see someone struggling with a bag down some steps or someone who seems lost, ask them if they need any help. Helping others makes the world a better place and will make you feel good too.

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Share your things

A really good way of appreciating your good fortune is to share it with others. Let others borrow your possessions or if you see someone admiring something of yours, consider letting them have it if you can.

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Make sure to say 'thank you'

Every child should know to say "please" and "thank you," but in reality, even adults can forget to do this. Make your gratitude explicit by making the phrase "thank you" a habit whenever anyone does anything to help you, whether it's a server, a friend, a bus driver, sales clerk or teacher.

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Smile more often

The best way to show and feel gratitude about life is to have a positive outlook. And the best way to be a more positive person is to smile more - changing your mood along with it. A smile can also help others feel at ease and show that you're happy in their presence. And did you know that smiling also makes you instantly more attractive?

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Spend quality time with loved ones

An important part of gratitude is enjoying the things you're grateful for, and that includes the people that you love. Cherish whatever time you can get with your friends and family (or call the ones that are far away), and you'll find that quality time leads to lasting relationships.

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Clean up after yourself

Show gratitude for your home or work by showing respect for your space and keeping things neat. You should also definitely make sure to respect other people's space when they've invited you in, and keep an eye out for the things you might not have thought to clean.

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Invite people over

Even if you live in a smaller space, it's not hard to throw a party or organize a gathering with your nearest and dearest. Show your appreciation for the people in your life by hosting them and spending some quality time together.

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Look for the silver lining

Of course, life will throw you some curveballs, and when things get tough, it can be hard to feel grateful. But adopt the habits of positive people, and try to look at the bright side of a situation (even if it's small) or at least count your blessings to make things a bit more bearable.

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Start a pay-it-forward chain

Next time you're at your favorite coffee shop, or any other place where you tend to buy yourself a treat, go ahead and pay for the person after you. If you do interact with them, ask them to "pay it forward" if they can, paying for the next person after them. Hopefully, you can start a chain of people passing along the goodwill.

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Take photos

Make your gratitude last longer by taking a photo when you're feeling particularly grateful, or even just great, with the people around you, where you are or what you're doing. You don't have to be at the most scenic spot in your state, either. Looking at photos of random, happy memories will also help you feel gratitude for the times you've had.

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Try not to complain

Feeling gratitude and positivity is all about your mindset. It's OK to feel down, or even to vent about it to others, but try your best to not verbalize negative thoughts when you can. We all need to let it all out occasionally, but constantly complaining will just make you (and the people around you) feel worse.

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Be patient with others

Other people can be frustrating at times, no matter how much we love them. It's important, however, to remember how much the other person means to you, and you can show that by demonstrating how willing you are to be patient with them. Knowing how to be patient is one of the best ways to be a kinder person.

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Take an interest in a loved one's hobby

One way you can show gratitude, or appreciation, for another person's presence in your life is by taking an interest in what interests them. Not only will they be happy to share their passion with someone, but they will also feel valued and important to your life.

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Buy a gift 'just 'cause'

Giving a gift is not only bound to make someone happy, but it can also be a very thoughtful gesture that truly expresses how much you care for a person. It doesn't have to be for an occasion or for the holidays, either; spontaneous gifts are always a pleasant surprise.

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Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrate all the things you're thankful for by celebrating birthdays and anniversaries of those around you (as well as your own). It doesn't have to be a big party; you can just get together at home, go out for dinner or even make a phone or video call if you're far from each other.

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Hug someone

It's hard to know what PDA is OK and what is not, but a good hug can go a long way in making someone feel loved. If you're close to someone, let them feel how glad you are to have them in your life with a big hug.

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Do someone a big favor

There are some favors that only those who really care for you will do, such as picking you up from the airport or helping you move. Find out who around you needs help with something around the house or in their lives and offer a hand.

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Take care of the environment

Mother Earth has provided a lot for us, so it's important for us to care for the planet in return as a form of gratitude. Try your best to reduce waste, reuse what you can and recycle plastics, paper and glass. You can also buy eco-friendly products and learn about sustainable food. Not only is it for the planet, but it's also for your health.

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Be kind to yourself

The person you should have the most gratitude for is you. Many of the benefits in your life are because of your own hard work and goodwill, so show some gratitude by being your own biggest cheerleader and caretaker. Be kind to yourself and know how to take some "me time," especially if you never do.

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