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No two words inspire more action than a simple gesture of gratitude: saying “thank you.” 

Unfortunately, it took me too long to realize this. 

When I was in the military, I rarely thanked the troops that mattered. The people who were younger than me, who were enlisted, who generally received far less recognition than people like me. 

'Make deposits in thank accounts, not just bank accounts.' – Waldo Waldman

I was a fighter pilot on the front lines carrying out an important job and had an Air Force Academy ring, I was an officer, and those people worked for me! I was their leader, and I was focussed on my duties. 

But I was also running the show with my ego. 

I learned about the power of gratitude and humility after I chewed out a young technician for making a small mistake fueling the plane and my commander told me I had to work with the maintenance team for a day. 

Back then, I may have been good at my job, but I wasn’t a wingman. I had an attitude and wasn’t much of a team player. 

I know now that a part of being a true team player is taking the time out to appreciate our unsung heroes.

How often do you harness the power of “thank you”? 

Are you thankful for the things that make your life special, or even comfortable? 

How often do you thank your spouse for their patience, your colleague for covering when you were sick, or the busy barista for taking an extra moment to wish you a nice day? 

Do you express gratitude for basic creature comforts like a warm house, the flowers in your hard, the fact that you have enough money in the bank to take some time off each year? 

Cultivating and expressing gratitude are easy things to do. And the more you are thankful, the more you reinforce positive aspects of your life for yourself. 

And that positive energy spreads to others around you. 

Showing appreciation fuels the fire for action. It’s a way of showing other people they are seen and heard, it builds trust and respect, and it encourages healthy communication

This simple act of appreciation can inspire other people to take action, too — to work harder, contribute in different ways, and even complete jobs that they don’t want to do.  

How to Practice Gratitude 

This is a busy world and many of us are in the mode of “go go go.” But stopping and expressing gratitude isn’t too hard to do. Saying “thank you” is just one idea out of many possibilities for practicing gratitude. 

You can think about practicing gratitude not only for the people in your life currently, but even to past events, people from your past, and towards the future.  

Taking just five minutes each day for quiet reflection can be your gratitude practice.  

Think about things you are grateful for. Get as specific as possible, write them down. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Name three things you’re grateful for
  • Acknowledge three people are you grateful for  
  • Take note of parts of your life you may be taking for granted
  • Take a moment to appreciate the person in the mirror

Other suggestions for practicing gratitude include writing a “thank you” card, writing in a gratitude journal daily, focusing on gratitude while meditating or praying, taking someone to lunch or just sending a small gift. 

The more specific you are about what you are grateful for — both for yourself and for others — the more likely it is to have a positive effect.

Gratitude and Well-Being go Hand-in-Hand 

A small but growing body of research suggests that practicing gratitude can help both the giver and the recipient feel happier. 

When you constantly look for the good instead of focussing on “problems” or what you are “lacking,” you will feel more fulfilled and the people around you will feel appreciated. 

When you practice gratitude daily, you will naturally carry out this mindset more often, and it’s bound to improve your mood and your overall outlook. 

Enjoy the Power of “Thank You” Every Day 

Show gratitude as often as you can. Be genuine. Think about it, write about it, simply keep it on your mind and you’ll soon notice that you will emanate strength and positivity which others will reflect back at you. 

Never take your team or community for granted. Don’t forget your peers, customers, family or friends. 

When you choose to practice gratitude, be sincere, start with the heart, and you’ll notice that everything flows a little more smoothly.   

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

Five Top-Gun Tactics to Conquer Fear, Overcome Adversity and Achieve Breakthroughs

Walk the Flight Line: Leadership, Appreciation, and Being a Wingman at Work

Focus on who, not how