Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you? If not, then let me start by saying thank you for reading this article. If you choose to share it with others, I thank you in advance for that as well. Why? Because I am eternally grateful for each and every person who takes time out of their busy schedule to read, share and, in many cases, send their feedback to me.

My father-in-law, Richard Knies, is one of the happiest and most successful people I know. He chalks up his 50 years of marital bliss, at least in part, to a simple rule, "It's more important to say 'I appreciate you' than 'I love you'." The first time I heard this, I was confused, so he elaborated. "Love has many definitions and interpretations, but gratitude is universal."

In fact, the act of gratitude has been shown to lead to happiness. Take it from Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier, who notes that the simple act of keeping a "Gratitude Journal" has been shown to increase happiness levels in several psychological studies. This notion of gratitude leading to happiness was further reinforced in Guy Raz's Simply Happy podcast on NPR's TED Radio hour by David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk.

But how does gratitude spur growth in business?

Simply put, most people don't take time to say thank you, so when you find the time to share your heart-felt gratitude, you stand out for the right reasons. Think about it. When was the last time you received a heart-felt thank you? It could have been in person, on the phone, in a hand written thank you note, or even in a non-automated email?

Think about all the people in your life that have made you who you are today. How many of them have you properly thanked? Most people will admit that they haven't taken the time to share their gratitude with even the most important people in their life--let alone the people with whom they want to do business. When someone goes out of their way to acknowledge that something you did really had an impact, time stops--even if just for that moment while you take in someone's gratitude.

I recently reached out to Gary Vaynerchuk and thanked him for relentlessly putting himself out there and inspiring thousands of people like myself to do the same. As part of the note, I acknowledged, "You will never know just how many lives you have positively influenced, nor will everyone tell you how much your insights, advice and energy has helped them. So on behalf of all those who don't take the time to write and tell you how much you mean to them, I want you to know how much your efforts mean to me personally." I ended with, "...if there is ever anything you need, just ask. You have given so much to the world, I'd love the opportunity to give back."

I didn't expect a response. I know how busy Gary Vaynerchuk is, but less than 48 hours later, I received a heartfelt response. Including an opportunity to help, which I will share with you here. If you've ever listened to, read or watched Gary Vaynerchuk, he is looking for ways to help grow his ASKGaryvee Show. I have committed to helping him. If you'd like an immediate opportunity to show your gratitude, please help spread the word about the ASKGaryvee Show.

And, of course, if there's someone else in your life that has been instrumental to your personal growth and success, please take a few minutes to write, call or meet with that person. It will mean more than you know and will ultimately lead you to new opportunities for growth--both personally and professionally. Showing your gratitude also has the ancillary benefit of increasing your own happiness, which, in turn, attracts more incredible people and positive energy into your life. There really isn't any downside to gratitude, which is why doing more of it will help you grow.