When good things happen to us, we feel grateful. We’re thankful for our family, a comfortable home, caring friends, purposeful activities in retirement or paid employment, health, life in a free country, a pretty sunset, and more. Even during this pandemic, most of us would say we have much to be thankful for.

Feeling grateful is an important first step in being thankful. But I believe the next step is actively expressing gratitude rather than just being passively grateful. For me, that means doing something to demonstrate my gratitude.

So I give to others as a dynamic response for all the good I have received and will be given in the future.

This Holiday Season Is a Wonderful Time to Express Gratitude

Now is a great opportunity to pause and think about practicing active gratitude. Maybe it’s writing a thank-you note to my neighbor who left fresh-baked cookies at my doorstep. Or sending a heartfelt card to an ill friend.

I do video chats to cheer others across the country. Helping an acquaintance with a writing project is a gift I can provide. Teaching a non-tech friend to install and use a new phone app is much appreciated.

Sometimes being a listening ear for a friend going through a setback helps. Opening my purse for worthy nonprofits is another way I can say “thank you” for the good in my life. Expressing gratitude this way feels good.

Simply put, giving is healthy for me. I believe giving is not mainly about the receiver who benefits from my gift – more about me as the giver.

Something Amazing Happens

Giving allows me to express gratitude in tangible ways. After the tragic death of our daughter many years ago, my late husband and I established a scholarship fund at the university from which she graduated.

This was our way of celebrating her life. That helped our healing. Memorial gifts in her name were the basis of this account. Later, we asked family and friends to contribute to this fund rather than buying us more stuff for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

Over the years, I’ve received heartwarming letters from our scholarship recipients who benefitted from this program. Yes, I get an emotional high from this investment.

Moving Forward on Your Own

A few years after my late husband died, I established the Moving Forward on Your Own Family Foundation. I funded this with proceeds from the sale of my guidebook for widows.

One recent grant helped to sponsor the upcoming international Camp Widow virtual conference. I have given about three dozen grants to date from this fund – highly gratifying to share my blessings and multiply money this way.

It’s true that giving pays rich dividends for the giver. Helping to make a difference in the lives of others is a meaningful way to turn passive gratitude into active gratitude. The more I express gratitude, the more I receive to be thankful for. Just works that way!

Giving your volunteer time and talents to nonprofits is another way to actively show your gratitude.

Remember Special Organizations in Your Estate Plan

You can also express gratitude by planning a future charitable gift in your estate plan to organizations important to you. These may include:

  • religious groups
  • educational institutions
  • children’s causes
  • health research
  • cultural arts associations
  • support groups
  • world hunger relief
  • homeless shelters
  • senior services
  • humanitarian causes
  • animal-related organizations
  • or others you care for

Professional advisors can assist you to do this through your legal documents. There are possible ways you can receive current income by putting your future gifts in place today. That’s a real win-win situation for you and the nonprofits you love!

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”

—Hausa proverb from Nigeria

How do you express active gratitude, being thankful for your blessings? Are you participating in any fund-raising activities? Which causes have you helped to date, and what does giving do for you? Please share with our community.

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