How To Move Beyond Gratitude


Feeling gratitude is great medicine. It can inspire optimism, improve health and increase happiness. But according to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, feelings of gratitude are often fleeting. What's more powerful is actually taking time to help others out. "Gratitude is a temporary emotion," says Grant, "but giving is a lasting value." Here are some ways to move from gratitude to giving this Thanksgiving. Because when we think of ourselves as givers, we are inspired to do more.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


Making a Difference...

What is your family expressing gratitude for this holiday season? Think about what steps (even small ones) you can take to supercharge your thankfulness and make a difference for others.

Gratitude for our food. As you prepare your holiday feast, reflect on the many folks behind it. Who planted and dug up the potatoes, drove them to the store, then stacked the shelves? Your children will start to understand that food does not magically appear, and to respect those who make it so accessible.

Take Action: Meet local people who grow your food by shopping at a farmers market or supporting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For ideas on how your family can help those struggling with food insecurity, see Our Family Fights Hunger. (Or purchase our classroom curriculum on hunger.)

Gratitude for our troops. One percent of Americans are now serving in the armed forces, and they deserve our gratitude. However, some find the expression "Thank you for your service" uncomfortable. Beyond words, there are other ways to appreciation for those currently serving, and veterans.

Take Action: Take a few minutes to write a letter to a soldier to express your appreciation. If you want to do more, you can host a collection drivesend books, or donate needed items.

Gratitude for family, friends and others: Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the people who enrich our daily lives.

Take Action: Send thank-you cards to loved ones who aren't joining you for the holidays. Do the same for your mail carrier, garbage collector, school bus driver, cafeteria worker and others who help you each day. For those you will see over the holiday, create a Gratitude Quilt together. Give each person a white square of paper and have them write or draw about someone they're thankful for -- and explain why. Mount each square on a slightly larger colored piece of paper and then piece the squares together to create a quilt.

Gratitude for our health: If your whole family enjoys good health, you'll want to express gratitude, while also remembering those who are struggling. 

Take Action: There are many fun, simple ways to support those dealing with illness. Your family can create happy mail for a child who is ill. Or consider cooking a meal or assembling breakfast bags for your local Ronald McDonald House.

Gratitude for our home: It's easy to take a comfortable home for granted. If you're not worried about where you will sleep tonight, give thanks and then consider assisting someone who is.

Take action: Learn more about the causes and impact of homelessness and read books together about it. Then consider creating homeless care kitscooking a meal at a shelter, or making sandwiches for shelter guests.


Talk About It...

Here are ways to remind your children to be grateful – and generous.

  • When you see your child make a difference for others, point it out. Mention the behavior, but also describe the impact on the recipient.

  • Talk together about what this quote means: "Feeling grateful and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

  • Institute DGT's favorite dinner routine: have each family member describe a way they helped and a way they were helped that day. This inspires both gratitude and giving.

  • Label your child as a giver, using phrases like: "You're the kind of person who helps out." "You're someone who cares about others."

Learn About It...

Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine is the story of young Rosalinda, who sets out on a quest to heal her broken lemon tree and find the thief who hurt it. During her magical adventure, she learns the power of empathy, forgiveness, generosity, and gratitude.


"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."

-A.A. Milne, English writer


"Generosity and gratitude are inseparably linked."

-Judith Martin, Miss Manners, American author and etiquette authority