Three Reasons to Express Gratitude

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When I first moved to North America from Azerbaijan nearly two decades ago, life presented me with many teachers. Each of them taught me something that helped with the transition into my new life. Among those teachers, there were two of my classmates from Omaha, Nebraska, named Jason and Brian. They took it upon themselves to teach me the nuances of the English language that weren’t too obvious to a foreign educated person. One of the very first things they covered was different ways to express appreciation in English.

For example, you say “Thanks” for the smallest, passing favor someone does for you – such as pointing out that you have an eyelash on your cheek. (The original reference kept).  For everything else, “Thanks” sounds like an understatement, so use a more heartfelt “Thank You” instead. They went on to comment that greater acts of kindness qualify for more appreciative “Thanks a lot” or “Thank you very much” – depending on how formal the relationship between the speakers is. I was grateful for this early lesson which has allowed me to watch how exactly I thank people. When in doubt, I would err on the side of an overstated way to thank a person, rather than inadvertently undermining their effort.

Different ways we say “thank you” have a different impact on people. Everyone wants to know they are appreciated – it creates positive feelings and fosters better relationships. So, it’s best to make sure to express our appreciation in the most suitable terms. Also, as much as it makes the other person feel good, there are tremendous benefits that true gratitude grants us when we express it.  Here are the three top reasons to become a more grateful person:

Positive Outlook

Counting our blessings does makes us happier as it shifts our focus from what we don’t have to what we do have in our life to be grateful for. Most importantly gratitude stops us from endlessly comparing our life to the life of other people which always looks more glamorous from afar, through the filters of Social Media. If something less desirable happens in our life, it’s easy for us to focus on the negative and forget all the great things we have in our life. That’s why expressing our gratitude intentionally, even writing down in a journal the things we are grateful for is a good exercise for keeping us optimistic about the future.

Goal Achievement

When we are feeling optimistic we believe we can achieve more. So this renewed confidence in our abilities enables us to focus on what else we want to have in our life and makes us work harder towards achieving our goals. I learned about a study that correlated goal achievement with gratitude. Participants were asked to state the goals they had for the following 2 months. Then only some of them were encouraged to keep a journal to write down what they are thankful for on daily basis. By the end of the experiment, those people who kept a daily gratitude journal were much closer to achieving their goals.

Career Success 

Showing gratitude makes us more likable. This is a very important trait in any social situation, including work – whether we manage people or deal with co-workers. Being grateful doesn’t mean you cannot criticize when work quality needs improvement. It means that if you establish yourself as someone who appreciates people, values their ideas and efforts – in general, your opinion will be trusted much more. And when the time comes and you have to criticize someone’s work it will be taken well, people will know your criticism comes from best intentions and you have their best interests in mind. People will be much more likely to listen to your feedback and sincerely strive for improvement. Bringing out the best in people will allow you to advance in your own career. Besides, as you stop dwelling on any negativity, you will increase your productivity and quality of the work you produce.

Coming out of the long Thanksgiving Weekend (at least here in Canada), have you thought what you are grateful for in your life? How do you express your gratitude?

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  1. Sometimes we simply don’t notice all the blessings in our life and forget to show our gratitude. Thank you very much, Natella, for such a beautifully positive post-reminder!

      1. Sometimes we don’t notice how small appreciation makes our day! You feel helpful and useful! By appreciating, we make a person feel special! You are special, Natella! Thank you for your input!

        1. Dear Zara thank you very much for your comment and the kind words. I think if we all show a little more appreciation towards each other and our life, everything around us will be that much better. I appreciate you!

  2. Thank You – relatively small words that can have huge impact expressed in the right way. This is such a great post Natella! It serves as a good reminder for us all to pause and reflect how we articulate our gratitude. Your blog is so insightful! Every week I look forward to your new post!

    1. It’s so true Allie! Not only saying thank you matters but how you say it too! Thank you for being such a supportive reader and an inspiring person! Much much appreciated!

      1. Exactly, being grateful and showing your gratitude brings love, success and happiness 💖. Thank you very much, Natella, for your inspirational post!

  3. Thank you Natella for sharing your experience as it helps us all to understand some of the unique challenges that you faced throughout your journey from Azerbaijan. I feel that it is my responsibility when out in public to show appreciation to people when and where appropriate. A small but very important gesture of respect and kindness. The lessons that Jason and Brian taught to you Natella reminded me of teaching my young daughter those same nuances of showing gratitude and appreciation. It was a rewarding process for me to teach her the importance of saying “Thank You” as a young girl and in what situations she was supposed to say “Thank You”. Seeing her now as a gracious young woman makes me a proud father.

    1. You are welcome Jason. Thank you too for your most valuable contributions to this blog through sharing your insights, viewpoints and experiences with our readers. I believe by raising a gracious and grateful young person you are making another major contribution to our society. It creates a ripple effect that you may not even be aware of.

  4. Thank you.. How rarely do we think about the power of this word. By saying this simple word you can melt the heart f a person, show your respect to him. If we learn to thank, then we will learn to appreciate what we have and be happy with what we have. Ungrateful and discontented people can’t be happy. Gratitude is very important. We need to say thank you for everything!

    1. Beautifully said, Melissa! Sounds so inspiring. And it’s so true – there is a direct connection between gratitude and happiness. Counting our blessings is the surest way to happiness 🙂

  5. Thank you very much Natella. My first encounter with gratitude in Canada was about my driving test in Vancouver twenty four years ago. I was already a driver of twenty five years experience in Hong Kong which has been quite challenging, as the roads are wider here, traffic was much lighter too. But I hired a driving instructor anyway before my driving test, and went along with his suggestions claiming I was a new learner, just to know what was the safety driving practices during driving test. My driving test officer knew I was lying after my parallel parking in a busy street in the beginning of the test. I didn’t argue and said I was sorry for lying, I told him I need the driving license to start my new life right away. The officer was very friendly and accepted my explanation. Then I was very happy to continue my driving test with a peace of mind. I did check the road conditions very often and talking to the officer about traveling experience while I followed the flow of the traffic. All of a sudden, the officer banged the car panels and shouted : “What are you doing? Look how fast you are driving!” Oops, I was driving about 60 km in 50 km zone. I immediately apologized again saying I was following the bus ahead and wasn’t even close. The officer then asked me a trick question, he said if RCMP gave you a speeding ticket for driving 51 km in a 50 km zone. Are you guilty or not?

    I said I would tell the Judge that my car odometer is not a digital meter, so I really don’t know whether I am speeding or not. The officer said no, 51 km is 51km, you are speeding in a 50 km zone. Do you understand ? I said yes I understand. He then told me to drive back to the driving test office. At the end of the test, he said that he deducted 10 marks and I passed the test. I was so relieved to learn my new country’s honest systems and compassionate minds are so common. I am very much grateful to learn it so early and now I am driving carefully day in day out.
    Thank you very much again Natella, without reading your blog, I would have forgotten my speeding driving test already. 😀

    1. Hello Rupert, that’s quite a story you shared with us! The story of gratitude to the driving instructor who taught you the safety and accountability when driving in the streets of Canada :). A quarter of a century passed but the lessons stayed with you. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. Sounds to me like you have many more great stories in you. We just need to get them out :).