The Power of Praise

06/17/2015 02:33 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016

Take a deep breath, sit back and relax and smile. I want you to think about the last nice thing that someone said to you. Maybe your kids thanked you for dinner or for doing their laundry, maybe your wife thanked you for cooking dinner, maybe your boss praised you for your stellar presentation to the board.

How do you feel when you think about that? I'm guessing, you feel pretty good. Now think about the last time that you said something nice to someone else. With any luck, you have the same good feeling.

If you can't remember the last time that either of these things occurred you may be praise-deprived.

Most people I know don't need someone patting them on the back every five seconds, but they do want to know that they are appreciated for the things they do. It's easy to take for granted the things that people do for us every day; particularly those closest to us.

Do you ever thank your parents for things they've done for you? How about your spouse, siblings, coworkers or neighbors? It's easy to overlook the little things, but think about that good feeling again. Don't you want to have that more often? Wouldn't you feel good being able to bestow that on others?

The best way to get what you want in your life is to give that very thing to others. If you want more love, give more love; if you want more friendship, give more friendship; and yes, if you want more praise, give more praise.

Think about the benefits of praise:

1. It's free to give
2. It makes people happy
3. It can be used as positive reinforcement, meaning, when you give it for something someone does, they tend to do more of that very thing
4. It can make you feel just as good as the recipient
5. It's an outward showing of your inward goodness and kindness

"At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel." -- Maya Angelou

What a powerful statement from Maya Angelou, and how true it is. I sometimes remember the nice things that people have said to me and about me, and even if I don't remember the exact words they used, I can remember the feelings that the words invoked.

Praise is a wonderful way to let people know that you appreciate them and that you care about what they do.

I keep a file at home called "The Feel Good File." It's just a regular file folder but inside, I keep all the nice notes, thank you cards, or copies of emails that people have sent me where they've said something complimentary. On days when I'm not feeling all that great about myself, or when I need a little extra encouragement, I open the file and read through the contents.

There are emails in there from my former boss, notes from my coworkers and friends, and testimonials that my clients have written praising my work.

If you don't have a feel good file of your own, I want to encourage you to start one. If you work outside the home, you may have one at your office and one at home, or you can keep everything in one folder, like I do. Every time you get something filled with praise that makes your heart sing, pop it in that folder. Then, on those days when you need a boost, thumb through the notes, cards, and letters and feel the love.

Remember that praise, like some of the other things I mentioned earlier, can be best received by giving it to others first. Starting today, think of three people you can compliment or praise. Start with three, and work your way up to five, or six, or seven! Then, sit back and see how much praise you start to get back.

In a world where the news is often bad and people are often unkind or even downright cruel, be a ray of sunshine. Start by praising the people in your life and then sprinkle that stuff everywhere you go!