By Rebecca Overson

As a life coach, I work with individuals to help them improve their experience of life, which always includes developing more fulfilling relationships. We have many opportunities to express our love and appreciation for the people around us. Think how many times a day you might say thank you. I personally think that gratitude is a form of love – but do we take as many opportunities to say thank you and I love you to those who need to hear it?

Here are four keys to expressing love and gratitude that I was introduced to by communications expert Steven Gaffney.

Immediately: As soon as you have the thought to express your love and gratitude, do it immediately. Open your mouth right then and there, pick up the phone, or write a quick note; whatever you do, do it NOW.

Specific: Tell them specifically what you love or appreciate.

Often: Do it as often as you think of it. You can’t overdo it when it is sincere – which leads me to the next key:

Sincere: Mean what you say and say what you mean. Connect your words to the feelings in your heart. Don’t fake it: People are really smart (and we are generally very bad actors!)

Here’s a little example: One day I had the thought – out of nowhere – to call my grandfather and tell him how much I loved and appreciated him. We lived in different states most our lives and he had health issues, so I didn’t spend much face-to-face time with him as a kid. However, he always wrote us letters and cards and sent gifts on special occasions. He once sent me $100 to pay for my lifeguard training when I was fifteen years old because he knew it was something I dreamed of and couldn’t afford. He was a part of my life even from afar.

Years later when I acted on the thought to call him, I just wanted to make sure he knew that I loved him. I said that I appreciated his continuous kindness and generosity, and while I didn’t see much of him, he was all the grandfather I ever needed. Among other things, I also reminded him about the lifeguard training and how much that meant to me to have many happy summers by the pool doing something I loved. It was a lovely conversation that touched him deeply. And as it turns out, that was the last conversation I ever had with him. He passed away a few months later.

Immediately, Specific, Often, Sincere. Remember the acronym ISOS* and start sharing your love and gratitude right now!

I hope you will take the opportunity every day of every month of the year – not just on Valentine’s day – to share kind words with family and friends!

*I originally learned this concept by author and speaker Steven Gaffney who is an expert in honest communication. For more information, please visit