Remembering to say thank you was probably the first lesson you were taught by your parents. It’s polite, and makes the person who receives that thanks feel appreciated. Makes sense.

What we probably didn’t realize was that being thankful was just the tip of a much larger iceberg called gratitude. They aren’t quite the same...gratitude is truly an attitude that people must first CHOOSE, then work consciously to PRACTICE it. Being thankful and expressing it, then, is just a byproduct of living a life of gratitude.

You may recognize people who do this well...they are generally happier than most people, because when you think of it, gratitude looks at the things in our lives that are positive, that we realize we benefit from, and should be recognized. When you create an attitude like that, how can you not be positive?

So, what does this have to do with working in sales or owning a business? EVERYTHING. And as I work with clients, it all must begin with YOU before you can ever hope to positively impact anyone else.

Here are a few ways to start implementing gratitude in your life:

Journal each day with a list of things you are thankful for. There are so many things we take for granted, that others don’t have, material things (houses, clothes, cars) as well as less tangible ones (health, access to care and nutrition, clean air).

Reflect on these things so you really develop the appreciation. The list is just there to help you focus; it shouldn’t be written in haste and put aside.

Speak it. Tell people how much you appreciate the beautiful weather, or the fact that you have an umbrella and a warm coat when the weather isn’t beautiful.

Seek it. Look for other people that you know who always have a positive thing to say. You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most so make that five a positive group.

Your attitude will change for the better, your relationships personally and professionally will improve, you will be able to manage stress and other mental challenges better, and perform better on the job overall.

Now, take that progress and turn it toward the people who work for you and watch the effects be magnified. It may seem awkward at first, but in one case an employer who saw low morale among its employees took its group on a retreat. The focus was to develop appreciation and gratitude during a time of transition and uncertainty.

One exercise involved the writing of thank you notes among employees, and once one person began, the effect was amazing. People began to open up to one another, to talk about their challenges and feel like someone was listening. They became authentic in their communications (and you know my feelings about being real...), and left the retreat with the same challenges facing them in the workplace, but with a much better attitude of how to address them.

The best way to adopt gratitude at work is not to make it a recognition program. Gratitude is much deeper than that. It recognizes the whole person: who they are, and what they value. by the way, this is good practice when you are looking at your clients or prospects. When they feel you understand and respect them on this level, what could that mean for your success?

And with that in mind, you realize that no two people accept gratitude in the same way. They have different skills and priorities and your job will be to identify what is important to them and express your appreciation for it.

Fortune 500 companies are taking this seriously, because truly gratitude, like kindness, doesn’t cost a thing. So, they’re developing a true culture which literally has them asking themselves “Are you for real?” about gratitude. It has to be part of the corporate goals, practiced in authentic gestures, and be consistent among all employees.

If you are interested in results, here are a few that have been noted about grateful people and can also be said for grateful companies:

• Higher energy

• Have stronger immune systems

• Have stronger friendships

• Show increased productivity

• Have increased self-worth and self-esteem

• Enjoy work and perform better on the job

So, make this season of giving thanks the start of a lifetime of practicing deeper gratitude, and realize the success that this change will bring.