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It’s often said that the single most powerful prayer is Thank You. Thank You, God, for my life. Thank You for my blessings. Thank You for what I’ve been given, and Thank You for all I have to give.

Thankful for you Gratitude is a truly wonderful feeling. What feels even better? Making gratitude an action. Then the blessings flow like crazy, from you and to you.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to practice gratitude through giving, and there are endlessly interesting ways to do it! Choose a gift of time or choose a gift of money. Some gifts require planning while others are spontaneous. We can be serious or silly, personal or anonymous. No matter how we give, we enjoy the same result: our hearts get bigger, our lives get better and we grow closer to God, to our fellows and to our best selves.

Here are some ways to brighten your days—and ours as well!

  • For friends and neighbors who don’t have family, make them part of yours. Set a few more places at your Thanksgiving table, and share the love as well as the turkey.
  • While that pumpkin pie digests, roll up your sleeves and wash those post-turkey dishes. Without being asked.
  • Make turkey sandwiches and hand them out, with a genuine smile, to people who are hungry.
  • Tip well. An unexpectedly generous gift will make your server’s week.
  • And while you’re at it, tell the manager what a good job your café server or store clerk is doing.
  • Being present is a huge gift. When talking with someone, give them your undivided attention. Ask questions. Laugh at jokes. Make them feel heard and cared for.
  • Nearly everyone has some fantastic—or at least, decent—quality. Find it, and give a compliment from the heart.
  • Even strangers like to hear they look great in that hat!
  • Save someone a parking ticket. Put quarters in random meters.
  • Leave flowers on a friend’s desk.
  • Buy a latte for the person behind you in line.
  • Help revive a fading tradition. Send a hand-written thank you note, on actual paper, by snail mail.
  • Bring back lunch for a deadline-crazed co-worker.
  • Take a working mother’s kids to the beach. For the whole day.
  • Hold open the door, any door, for anyone. Even if that person is perfectly able to open it themselves.
  • Recommend a good book to your favorite readers. Donate used books to the library. Read to a child.
  • Have a neighbor who can’t get out and about? Stop by with soup, pick up their mail, bring in their trashcans. Share the soup and your day with them. You’ll both be richer for it.
  • Slip a note in your mate’s briefcase or child’s knapsack simply saying “I Love You!”
  • Fold your roommate’s laundry. For maximum kindness, do their ironing, too!
  • Pick up trash from the beach.
  • Make coffee for your plumber.
  • Give that premium parking spot to a stranger, with a wave.
  • Be kind to our planet: turn off extra lights, take shorter showers, bring cloth bags to the market, always recycle.
  • On the freeway, let that driver merge. There, don’t you feel better?
  • Donate blood.
  • Adopt a stray animal.
  • Return all calls promptly. Emails, too.
  • Complain less, appreciate more.

The great thing about grateful giving is, we can do it whenever and wherever and however we like. We can sprinkle spontaneous acts of giving throughout our day, or we can dedicate an entire chunk time.

The organization One Week A Year offers lovely suggestions for donating a full week of something—anything—to help others.  

Businesses can give a full week’s advertising budget, or one full week of profit.If we’re flush, we can donate a full week of our paycheck, our grocery budget or our coffee tab to our favorite church or charity.

Got goods? Donate one week’s worth of canned foods, or one week’s worth of clothing. Food banks and homeless shelters will bless you.

Got time? Donate one week of childcare, one week of dog walking, or one week of creating a community garden.

Got God? Give one full week of prayer to those you love—and especially to those you don’t particularly like. The curious thing is, the more we pray for someone, the more we come to like them.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your holidays be merry, and may the thanks-giving continue all year long.

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