I’ve never understood why it is so difficult for some people to say “thank you.” It begs the question, “Are we really grateful?” and, “For what and whom?” And most important, “Can we admit it to ourselves and share it with others?”

Recent research by Micheal E McCullough, a professor at the University of Miami, confirms what we’ve heard so many times, “It’s better to give than receive.” What the work describes is how giving back and being grateful measurably reduces anxiety and depression, increases satisfaction with life, reduces aggression, and increases our likeability. Not a bad pay back.

Are you curious as to where you sit by comparison with others regarding your sense of gratitude? Take Dr. McCullough’s six question quiz and see.

Oprah probably wasn’t the first, but surely was the most visible advocate of the gratitude journal. She and millions of her fans took on the commitment of writing daily what they were grateful for on that particular day. It's proven this simple act has a significant and long lasting impact on our perceptions and actions. Now add to that our health.

For centuries families have said grace before meals, I come for one such a clan. Did it make me feel I was lucky to have that pork chop in front of me? Probably not, but it did get all seven of us seated, quieted down, and prepared to share our day-to-day lives with one another. It was our overture to eating. At the end of every meal, my father always stood up and said to my mother “Jeannette, that was a delicious meal.” From those simple acts, I learned a lifelong lesson regarding the power of ritual and the necessity of specific, regular appreciation. For this I am grateful.

Cornered, most of us can name numerous people for whom we owe much. The usual suspects, family and friends, might get their due, though for some of us, those conversations are the most challenging. I’m thinking more about the people who everyday make our lives safer, easier, healthier, and richer. I would imagine most of us appreciate that firefighters and teachers deserve our respect and appreciation; however, what about the person who hauls our trash, cleans our office, takes our blood pressure, and listens to our complaints about bad cable service? Those stagehands in life never get the applause. Why should they? They all are paid for what they do, and besides, no one said “thank you” to you lately for doing such a great job. Well, because it's right and because it is now proven to be healthy. We now know to get the most from the sense of gratitude you have to express it.

Here a few things you might consider trying:

Take a moment and jot down the people and opportunities you are grateful for.

Try to get another person to participate in the activity and share your thoughts (it's a great thing to do with children).

Create a list of the people who if they did not do their job, would really mess up your life. Act on that list with an in-person, eye-to-eye, customized thank you. “Billy, I am able to drive to work every day without a care because I know you take the best care of me and my car, thank you.”

Thank yourself for the good things you do to take care of you. You had that physical, got the taxes out on time, volunteered. Now figure out other ways to bring more of this into your life.

Want to be healthier, happier, and surrounded by people of quality? Be grateful, think grateful, act grateful.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.