As we come to the end of this month of Gratitude, I reflect on how focusing on gratitude, connection and love have helped to lift me. When you spend time in a spirit of gratitude, being thankful makes me want to give back. Reflecting on what we have with gratitude helps our abundance grow and makes us want to share with others. Often we look around to organizations to support or charities to give to and I encourage folks to continue doing that! There are other ways though that we can give back to others right around us and I wanted to share some ways to do that through the Five Love Languages. For those unfamiliar, the five love languages are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. We all have our own preferred ways of communicating and receiving love and I believe that it is really important to love people in ways that they want to and receive being loved. In my experience, they sometimes do not feel that love otherwise because those methods don’t translate to love for them. So here are some ways to give back with gratitude and connection through the 5 love languages.
Words of affirmation are acknowledgments of affection, such as “I love you,” compliments, words of appreciation, verbal encouragement, and digital communication like texting and social media engagement.
- Be A Cheerleader – Give someone a call that you know could use some verbal encouragement and cheer them on. Let them know how great they are doing and that they can do anything.
- Say I Love You – Don’t be afraid to say I love you to friends and family and anyone you have love for in your life. Often we reserve I love yous for our romantic partners but we all need love so make sure you tell the people around you that you can about them and that you are grateful for them being in your life.
- Set Up Some Encouraging Texts – Set up texts with encouraging messages to friends and family. Depending on the type of phone you have, you may be able to schedule them so that they can go out at different times to give folks a boost.
- Gratitude Post – Share a post on social giving love and gratitude to someone in your life who you want to share some encouragement and love with – talk about what you are grateful for and how this person has impacted your life. Give them some digital flowers in the form of words of appreciation.
Quality time is actively wanting to spend time with someone and being fully present with active listening and eye contact.
- Date night – I believe that date night isn’t just for romantic relationships. I have date nights with friends all the time and it is so important to the health of our relationship. We get to spend quality time catching up, connecting and listening to each other. We all want to connect and be seen. Show your gratitude with your friends by holding space for them.
- Sharing Hobbies – Spending time engaging with someone’s hobby or passion is a great way to show them that you care. People often have secret things they nerd out over that they would LOVE to share with someone else. Spend some quality time in that world with them and get a glimpse of what brings them joy.
- Connect together in nature – Get outside! Go for a hike or share a meal in a park. There are so many ways to get outside and spend time together with the people that you care about. Nature is so calming and healing and is a great place to spend time loving on someone you care about.
Gifts are an easy one for most people to understand, you feel loved when people give you tangible symbols of love. It is not about the financial value of the present but the thought behind the item.
- Experiences – Give people a gift that will last a lifetime by giving them the gift of creating a memory. Think about the kind of experience that the person you want to give gratitude would most enjoy. Are they a foodie or maybe outdoorsy? Do they have a favorite hobby or subculture they enjoy? Think about what their best day would be like and plan it for them.
- Birds – Most people have two primary love languages that they respond to most. Give them a gift that speaks to their other languages such as a coupon for a cuddle session or for an act of service you know that they need. Make it easier for them to be loved the way they want to and on their terms by giving them the tools to request what they want.
- Give them what they want – We often drop hints about things we want or things that make us happy. Show that you have listened by giving them exactly what they want. Maybe there are some shoes they have been talking about or a piece of jewelry that made their eyes light up or there’s a brand they love – go get them that and make their day.
Acts of service for most look like someone going out of their way to make your life easier. Actions speak louder than words for these folks.
- Show Up with what they need – If they aren’t feeling well show up with soup. If they are in the house with the kids working, bring them some coffee to keep them going. If they have been working hard with no time for a break, bring them a meal to keep them fueled up.
- Take Something Off Their Plate – If someone you love is overwhelmed, help them lighten the load. It can be as simple as dropping off some packages that need to go out or picking up their dry cleaning or cooking them or their family dinner one night.
- Get Others On Board – It takes a village and sometimes we have to tell people when our friends need us to show up. Tap into the village to spread the acts of service so that they know they are loved and can be less overwhelmed.
Physical touchers feel loved when they receive physical signs of affection such as kissing, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, and sex. Consent is still important, make sure you are checking in.
- Cuddles – Give all the consensual cuddles, hugs and pets to let someone know you love them. Cuddling does not have to be a sexual experience, it can just be about touch, closeness and intimacy.
- Hugs – Give them often. Especially right now after this period of hug deprivation. People need physical affection and connection so it is important to give hugs and affection to those around us.
- Make Out Sessions – Sometimes people forget how fun it can be just to make out. That’s it. Often we treat intimacy like a race to a finish and forget to just enjoy the journey or we forget that sometimes just kissing and holding hands can be nice too.
Giving back is so important and necessary and there are people around the globe that could use help. Sometimes we forget to look in our own backyard or around our own table to see how we can help. You never know what ripple your gratitude can have.