What is Gratitude and Why Is It So Important?

gratitude appreciation article

There is a variety of things that can conjure positive feelings of appreciation or gratitude that may guide people towards meaning and better health.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson offers a helpful introduction into what practicing gratitude can look like, and this article will begin there and explore the current psychological research behind this value.

Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation, and positive psychology research has found neurological reasons why so many people can benefit from this general practice of expressing thanks for our lives, even in times of challenge and change.

To begin though, we need to define what we mean by “gratitude.”

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients connect to more positive emotions and enjoy the benefits of gratitude.

What is Gratitude? 

Many of us express gratitude by saying “thank you” to someone who has helped us or given us a gift. From a scientific perspective, however, gratitude is not just an action: it is also a positive emotion that serves a biological purpose.

Positive psychology defines gratitude in a way where scientists can measure its effects, and thus argue that gratitude is more than feeling thankful: it is a deeper appreciation for someone (or something) that produces longer lasting positivity.

Before continuing with that definition, we offer 10 definitions to provide a cultural context for how the word has changed over time.


10 Definitions

hands heart - definition gratitudeAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gratitude is simply “the state of being grateful.”

The Harvard Medical School provides more detail, writing that gratitude is:

“a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” 

This provides a more helpful context, leading us into the next definition from psychiatry researchers, who define gratitude as:

“the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”

(Sansone & Sansone, 2010).

Researchers also offer this definition:

“an emotion that is typically evoked when one receives costly, unexpected, and intentionally rendered benefits, and is thought to play a key role in regulating the initiation and maintenance of social relationships”

(Forster et al., 2017).

Another simple definition of gratitude that comes from psychology research is:

“a social emotion that signals our recognition of the things others have done for us”

(Fox et al., 2015).

This definition is important because it brings a social element into the definition of gratitude.

The social aspect of gratitude from this theologian says:

“if we acquire a good through exchange, effort or achievement, or by right, then we don’t typically feel gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion we feel in response to receiving something good which is undeserved”

(Lacewing, 2016).

Another definition emphasizing its social aspect comes from social psychology researchers, who claim that:

“gratitude is a positively valenced emotion that can arise when another person–a benefactor–does something kind for the self

(Algoe et al., 2016).

One morality-based psychologist writes that:

“gratitude is not goods delivered in response to payment. It is a response to a gift … Gratitude, as a response to a gift, is also a form of generosity, of graciously crediting the other for something that was not strictly owed”

(Roberts, 1991).

To understand further, Robert Emmons offers his psychological research definition on the topic that gratitude:

“has been conceptualized as an emotion, a virtue, a moral sentiment, a motive, a coping response, a skill, and an attitude. It is all of these and more. Minimally, gratitude is an emotional response to a gift. It is the appreciation felt after one has been the beneficiary of an altruistic act”

(Emmons & Crumpler, 2000).

Emmons explains gratitude deeper in another paper. He (and his coauthor Robin Stern) say that:

gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldly one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. Gratitude is a cognitive-affective state that is typically associated with the perception that one has received a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person”

(Emmons & Stern, 2013).

We hope these definitions of gratitude provide a psychological, social, and religious context for this positive emotion. Whether you agree with all the definitions or identify with one, we are now equipped to delve into its greater role in our health and daily lives.

In summary, gratitude is a positive emotion felt after being the beneficiary of some sort of gift. It is also a social emotion often directed towards a person (the giver of a gift) or felt towards a higher power.

If you want to try out a powerful form to practice it, check out our post on gratitude meditation.


Key Synonyms

There are many synonyms of gratitude, including:

  • acknowledgment;
  • appreciativeness;
  • grace;
  • gracefulness;
  • gratefulness;
  • praise;
  • recognition;
  • requital;
  • responsiveness;
  • thankfulness.

Acknowledgment, appreciativeness, and thankfulness are most relatable for the purpose of this article.


Antonyms of Gratitude

The obvious antonym of gratitude is ingratitude, but other antonyms include:

  • censure;
  • condemnation;
  • thanklessness;
  • ungratefulness.

Many people are not appreciative despite being the beneficiary of an altruistic act. Can you think of a time when you felt this? Most people can. It is not a pleasant experience for anyone.

Thanklessness deprives people of the emotional rewards of gratitude, and this article hopes to offer tangible ways on how to cultivate a more appreciative state of being.


Two Stages of Gratitude

According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude involves two stages (2003):

  1. First comes the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make worth living, and rich in texture. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.
  2. Second, gratitude is recognizing that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. One can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognize the goodness in our lives and who to thank for it, ie., who made sacrifices so that we could be happy?

The two stages of gratitude comprise the recognition of the goodness in our lives, and then how this goodness came to us externally lies. By this process, we recognize the luck of everything that makes our lives—and ourselves—better.


Purpose of This Emotion

girl with thank you sign - The Concept of GratitudePeople can use gratitude to form new social relations or to strengthen current ones.

Acts of gratitude can be used to apologize, make amends and help solve other problems.

Alternatively, people may feel gracious because it can be an intrinsically rewarding process. Simply being grateful for being alive is a great way to motivate oneself to seize the day.

The idea that tomorrow is not guaranteed is a strong motivator for some people to be their “best self” today.


Why Gratitude Works

Gratitude is a selfless act. Its acts are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated. “A gift that is freely given” is one way to understand what these acts are like.

For example, if someone is sad and you write them a note of appreciation, you are likely not asking for something in return for this person; instead, you are reminding them of their value, and expressing gratitude for their existence. At the moment, you are not waiting for a “return note” from this person.

Even when we do not expect a return, sometimes they happen. Gratitude can be contagious, in a good way. In the previous example, maybe when you are down, this person will write you a note too.

Here are two processes gratitude can influence.


1. Catharsis

guy in tears - why gratitude works CatharsisCatharsis is the process in which an individual releases strong emotions.

For example, after a stressful or traumatic event, crying provides a means for such a strong release, rendering the activity cathartic. Catharsis works with gratitude.

To illustrate this, consider the guilt associated with “failing” to meet obligations. Perhaps in this situation, you would express gratitude to who you let down, in an attempt to release that guilt. The acts are meant to convey the appreciation that the friends possess, despite a recent disappointment.

Additionally, possessions from passed loved ones may provide a sense of serenity that enables the new owner to reflect with gratitude on that object and in essence, that person.

The use of gratitude serves as an agent of catharsis, where both parties feel satisfied in the end.


2. Reciprocity

Reciprocity, as a concept from social psychology, is about the exchanging of actions.

In this case, it is about the exchange of positive emotion. When someone performs an act of gratitude for another person, in turn, that person may be motivated to do something gracious for the former person or continue the favor for a stranger.

Imagine having coffee or a meal with a friend, and they politely demand to pay for the outing. You may quibble back and forth about splitting the bill, but should they insist, you are likely to feel grateful, and an extended duty that the next meal is “your treat.”

In essence, this is exactly how reciprocity works.


Trait or State?

Gratitude is regarded as either a trait (dispositional) or state (of being).

As a trait, an individual practices gratitude as part of their daily life (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002) and it would be considered a character strength, to possess gratitude. As a trait, gratitude can be developed with practice and awareness (Peterson, & Seligman, 2004).

When a person experiences the rich emotion from someone expressing gratitude for them, it is referred to as state (Watkins, Van Gelder, & Frias, 2009). Gratitude is both of these: a trait and a state.

The state of being grateful is a pleasant experience studied by philosophers ancient times. This next section provides a richer context for how this emotion functioned historically in the mindset of people and societies.


Philosophical Perspectives on Gratitude

For at least 2,000 years, intellectuals have been considering the important role gratitude plays in daily life.

Ancient and not-so-ancient philosophers, such as Cicero, Seneca, and Adam Smith, preached the importance of giving thanks (Fox et al., 2015; McCullough et al., 2002). Cicero and Seneca thought of gratitude as a key virtue foundational to any successful civilization.

To be clear, it is not just ancient and historical philosophers who were interested in gratitude as a virtue. In the last few years, several papers describe gratitude from a hybrid psychological-philosophical perspective, as well as from an outright philosophical perspective (Jackson, 2016; Kristjansson, 2015; Moran, 2016; Morgan et al., 2017).

Recently, a paper argued that Jean-Paul Sartre’s beliefs are actually aligned with the modern positive psychology movement, since Sartre wrote about n gratitude as a character strength (Quackenbush et al., 2016).

If gratitude is a foundational human emotion, then it makes sense why humans have been studying it for millennia. Our species benefits from it, in so many ways.


Religious and Spiritual Perspectives on Gratitude

Unsurprisingly, religious and spiritual movements have explored gratitude too. Theravāda Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are some of the main religions with writings on this (Berkwitz, 2003; Emmons & Crumpler, 2000).

Historically, many religions referred to gratitude strictly regarding the need to be thankful for a higher power. More so, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism stressed gratitude as an integral step on the path to a good life.

For example, in Judaism, followers of Yahweh are encouraged to start every day by being grateful for waking up again (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000). Some psychologists believe that Christianity, as another example, incorporates a “gratitude to God” that binds many Christians together (Roberts, 1991).

For Islam, the purpose of the five daily prayers is not to ask Allah for anything, but instead, to show gratitude towards Allah (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000). These three religions offer a unique role of gratitude, and overall, one of thanks for this existence and who created it.

In the older writings of Theravāda Buddhism, gratitude connects practitioners to their pasts (Berkwitz, 2003). Today, gratitude and the concept of karma is a driving force behind philanthropic Buddhism in China (Kuah-Pearce, 2014). Like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, gratitude plays a unique role in Buddhism historically and presently.

Several recent studies explore the relationship between religious gratitude (such as gratitude to a higher power) and well-being (Kraus et al., 2015; Krause & Hayward, 2015; Van Cappellen et al., 2016). This is a burgeoning area of research in the field of positive psychology.


Modern Psychological Perspectives on Gratitude

More recently, positive psychology has expanded research on the importance of gratitude, largely led by researcher Robert Emmons.

Emmons has authored several papers on the psychology of gratitude, showing that being more grateful can lead to increased levels of well-being (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000). Some of Emmons’s work has also dealt specifically with gratitude in a religious setting, highlighting how feeling grateful towards a higher power may lead to increased physical health (Krause et al., 2015).

Here is an overview of nine recent psychological findings related to the study of gratitude:


1. Enhanced Well-being

Expressing your thanks can improve your overall sense of well-being. Grateful people are more agreeable, more open, and less neurotic (McCullough et al., 2002; McCullough, Tsang, & Emmons, 2004; Wood, Maltby, Gillett, Linley, & Joseph, 2008; Wood, Maltby, Stewart, Linley et al., 2008).

Furthermore, gratitude is related inversely to depression, and positively to life satisfaction (Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2008). This is not to say that “depressed people” should simply be more grateful, as depression is a very complicated disease and struggle for millions of people. Instead, perhaps gratitude practices need to be a part of the therapy and treatment for people who struggle with depression.


2. Deeper Relationshipscouple - gratitude and relationships

Gratitude is also a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships.

People who express their gratitude for each other tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic (DeShea, 2003; Farwell & Wohlwend-Lloyd, 1998).

Giving thanks to those who have helped you strengthens your relationships and promotes relationship formation and maintenance, as well as relationship connection and satisfaction (Algoe et al., 2008; Algoe, Gable, & Maisel, 2010).


3. Improved Optimism

Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough did a study in 2003 exploring the impact of practicing gratitude. After 10 weeks, their research conveys that people who focused on gratitude showed more optimism in many areas of their lives, including health and exercise.

When people are optimistic about their well-being and health, they may be more likely to act in ways that support a healthy lifestyle.


4. Increased Happinesswoman smiling - gratitude and happiness

Toepfer, Cichy, and Peters (2011) conducted a study asking people to write and deliver a letter to someone for whom they were grateful. After the task, their happiness levels and life satisfaction were dramatically impacted—even weeks later.

In the pursuit of happiness and life satisfaction, gratitude offers a long-lasting effect in a positive-feedback loop of sorts. Thus, the more gratitude we experience and express, the more situations and people we may find to express gratitude towards.


5. Stronger Self-Control

Self-Control helps with discipline and focus. Long-term well-being can benefit from self-control, for example, resisting nicotine in cigarettes for someone who is trying to quit smoking. Self-control helps us stick to the “better choice” for our long-term health, financial future, and well-being.

A study by DeSteno et al. in 2014 found that self-control significantly increased when subjects chose gratitude over happiness or feeling neutral. One of the study’s authors, Professor Ye Li, said:

“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercise opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking.”

Being thankful can provide us the resolve we need to make choices in our lives that serve us, emotionally and physically, in the long-run. As this study highlights, there are so many applications to using gratitude as a path towards healthier humans and communities.


6. Better Physical and Mental Health

Research performed in 2015 showed that patients with heart failure who completed gratitude journals showed reduced inflammation, improved sleep, and better moods; this reduced their symptoms of heart failure after only 8 weeks.

The link between the mind-body connection aligns with how gratitude can have a double benefit. For example, the feeling of appreciation helps us to have healthier minds, and with that healthier bodies.


7. An Overall a Better Life

Over the last two decades, the evidence supporting the benefits of gratitude has increased a lot.

Consider this quote from the Wall Street Journal’s article “Thank you, No, Thank you.”

“…adults who feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.”

Melinda Beck

Aside from increasing well-being, psychology research shows how practicing gratitude, in this case, gratitude towards a higher power, can reduce levels of stress (Krause, 2006). Practicing gratitude can decrease levels of depression and anxiety (Kashdan & Breen, 2007).


8. Stronger Athleticism

Studies from researcher Lung Hung Chen found that an athlete’s level of gratitude for their success can influence their levels of well-being (Chen, 2013; Chen & Wu, 2014). More specifically, adolescent athletes who are more grateful in life are also more satisfied and tend to have higher levels of self-esteem.

Gratitude also affects sports fans (Kim & Jeong, 2015; Kim et al., 2010). Fans’ levels of gratitude influence their happiness, connection, and identity with a team. In turn, stronger fan support and pride can influence the performance and pride of the team itself for representing a greater team.

Teri McKeever has applied these findings to her team, and with incredible success. As the women’s swimming and diving coach at the University of California Berkeley, McKeever has incorporated gratitude exercises into her team practices—and also won three NCAA National Championships in her twenty-year career there.

She discusses why and how she does this in her 15-minute clip:

For McKeever, gratitude exercises help prepare her athletes for productive practice, as well as help foster cohesion within a team. While McKeever is talking about gratitude in the context of a swim team, the lessons she shares can be useful for any sort of leader, whether it is a coach, teacher, manager, or parent.


9. Stronger Neurologically-Based Morality

Neuroscience is beginning to explore what gratitude does to the mysterious human brain.

One study measured the brain’s response to feelings of gratitude with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (Fox et al., 2015). These researchers elicited feelings of gratitude in their participants and found that gratitude increased activity in areas of the brain that deal with morality, reward, and judgment.

These neural findings are interesting and beget further studies. Is gratitude associated with morality? If so, this supports why philosophical and religious thinkers have used gratitude in the formation and maintenance of their societies (1991).

It will be interesting to see what is in store for future psychological investigations into gratitude.


The Effects of Gratitude

thank you letter - The Effects of GratitudeIn a study by McCraty and colleagues (1998), 45 adults were taught to “cultivate appreciation and other positive emotions.”

The results of this study showed that there was a mean 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol after the intervention period. During the use of the techniques, 80% of the participants exhibited an increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns, indicating reduced stress.

In other words, these findings suggest that people with an “attitude of gratitude” experience lower levels of stress.

Another study by Seligman, Steen, and Peterson (2005) gave participants one week to write and deliver a letter of thanks, in person, to someone who had been especially kind to them—but who had never been properly thanked. The gratitude visit involves three basic steps:

  1. First, think of someone who has done something important and wonderful for you, yet who you feel you have not properly thanked.
  2. Next, reflect on the benefits you received from this person, and write a letter expressing your gratitude for all they have done for you.
  3. Finally, arrange to deliver the letter personally, and spend some time with this person talking about what you wrote.

The results showed that participants who engaged in the letter-writing exercise reported more happiness for one month after the intervention compared to a control group.

Expressing gratitude not only helps people appreciate what they’ve received in life, but it also helps people feel like they have given something back to those who helped them.

Hand-delivering a letter of thanks might help absolves residual guilt you might feel for not having thanked this person. This act can foster a sincere, heartfelt interaction that strengthens your relationship, and gives meaning to both parties lives.


Social Effects of Gratitude

Gratitude can be observed at an individual level, with its subsequent effects, or at a greater social level. The recipient of gratitude may not reciprocate directly back, but in turn, may lend a favor to a third party, effectively expanding a network of good (Chang, Lin, & Chen, 2011). Sometimes, the recipient may give back to the initiator as well.

This research supports Fredrickson’s (2004a,b) broaden and build theory, which posits expanding social networks, to build better social support.

Effectively gratitude can create social networks and help individuals work towards goals and challenges, and overall, simply have stronger coping skills for life’s hardships.


Gratitude in Relationships

In a romantic relationship, both partners take actions to please the other one. This can elicit several emotions such as gratitude and indebtedness. Algoe et al. (2010) looked into these two emotions as an emotional response to an intentionally provided benefit.

Gratitude and indebtedness are associated with the intention to repay for the received benefit. It leads to internal motivation and external motivation to reciprocate.


Thoughtful Actions

couple in the rain - Gratitude in RelationshipsAlgoe et al. (2010) asked 67 couples to keep a diary for 2 weeks. The participants had to record their own and their partner’s thoughtful actions, emotions, and “relationship well-being.”

When coupling the data of the two partners, researchers examined if a thoughtful action of the participant was recognized by the partner and if they acknowledged the action accordingly.

Algoe et al. (2010) found that indebtedness did not always prompt reciprocity in actions, but gratitude did.

When these feelings of gratitude are noticed by the partner, the relationship well-being of the partner also increases.


Gratitude Intervention

Couples who want to improve their relationship might benefit from writing about their relationship and paying attention to moments of gratitude. Therapists can use this as “homework” for their clients.

Let both partners keep a diary for a few weeks, and discuss the answers in the next therapy consult. Did they recognize and acknowledge what their partner did for them? Why or why not? How did it make them feel?

By practicing the partners can become more aware of the thoughtful actions of their partner and respond to them with gratitude. This exercise can induce an upward spiral and improve the relationship well-being and can be a powerful intervention and communication tool for romantic partners.


Apply It to Your Life

This very evening, before you go to sleep, think of the positive things that happened during the day. Take a moment to do this every night. Consider a gratitude journal as well.

For those struggling with depression or anxiety, this can also frame the beginning of a day: before getting out of bed, consider three things—however small—that they are grateful for. Even on a really hard day, make yourself do this, even if your internal voice is one of sarcasm: just three things.

If you have children, take a moment with them before bed-time to ask them to think about something they’re grateful for themselves. Set a good example by sharing what you’re grateful for, as this shows children the importance of the practice.

If you feel that you have neglected to thank someone in your life, maybe write them a letter explaining your gratitude.  Deliver it in person, if possible. Who knows what impact this will have on both of your days, and lives.

All of these actions, however little, help shape a culture of gratitude. For more on this topic, we have Emmons video here on “Cultivating Gratitude.”

When people express gratitude to each other, it compels a desire to reciprocate, and this is a positive chain reaction to encourage in any family, workplace, town, and society.


A Take-Home Message

Modern psychology research confirms that gratitude is an important social emotion that can benefit the lives of religious people who practice gratitude, and that practicing gratitude can also benefit non-religious people.

Gratitude is a human emotion that can be most simply defined as appreciation or acknowledgment of an altruistic act.

For the purposes of positive psychology, gratitude is a tool for increasing well-being. The benefits of practicing gratitude are not linked to any sort of pathology or religion, but rather, linked to a desire to build people and societies that are healthy and thriving.

There are so many ways to practice gratitude, as the previous paragraphs explained. Maybe it is a gratitude journal, or maybe it is acting kindly towards a stranger because someone did that for you.

Next time you have a free moment, try practicing some gratitude. You might just be surprised by the benefits it brings you. As always, let us know your thoughts and experiences with this valuable emotion.

We look forward to reading your comments below.

For further reading, see:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free.

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  • Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 854–871.

About the Author

Courtney Ackerman, MA, is a graduate of the positive organizational psychology and evaluation program at Claremont Graduate University. She is currently working as a researcher for the State of California and her professional interests include survey research, wellbeing in the workplace, and compassion.


  1. Jean Albert

    I am amazed by the multitude of different people and situations the Creator has used to fashion me into who I am. It’s like an infinite assembly line of people putting together neatly packaged events and processes that in the end turn out into a human being full of good things. I am indeed a bundle of goodness and kindness put together by the invisible hand of God. Yes, I am truly amazed. Thanks be to my parents, family, teachers, friends and fellow human beings. It’s wonderful. Thank you.

  2. Dharma jyoti Saikia

    Thank you… Today I have cleared & accept by my heart , The Definition of Gratitude…
    How to use , utilize, programing etc I learned good lesson from your note, once again Thank you so much………

  3. Lloyd Smith

    Thanks for the article; it looks like a good start. I would really like to see a thorough comparative study or analysis of the concept of gratitude as seen and practiced, or prescribed from, let’s say, the world’s 5 major religions and from secular or non-religious points of view. This would discuss areas of emphasis such as feelings, actions and thoughts and how they work themselves out in specific cultural groups. It would also include some type of vector analysis as to how these play out between individuals and within their societies. Thanks, again.

  4. Josh Balerite Acol

    This is an excellent article about gratitude, Courtney. I have learned so much from your post. I think I will save this as one of my references in writing some of my blog posts. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Josh | Soulful Encourager

  5. Paulette

    I appreciate the time and effort that went into writing and sharing this important article. It is clearly written and filled with useful information. I plan to watch the videos and followup on the cited resources later today. I was looking for information on gratitude to share with a mindfulness meditation group – and you’ve given me a terrific starting point. As I reflect on the concept of gratitude, it feels as if it is foundational to a happy and healthy life – and world. Gratitude validates our purpose. We feel grateful, and in the acknowledgement is a sense of fulfillment, abundance – it eases our “wanting” minds and we can “pay it forward” with our own kind and generous actions….creating more gratitude – and ultimately more health and happiness. That seems very good to me. Thanks, again! ps/I’d like to read more about the essential element of emotional maturity that was cited as a requirement for fully experiencing the benefits of gratitude.

  6. EMDR Professional Training

    Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation and it also shows the positivity of everyone. Agree with Dr. Robert Emmons who tells about the Stages of Gratitude. Thanks Courtney for compiling this wonderful article. I hope your words inspire others to thank you and never side with each other.

  7. Nagy Tobia

    I’me sure I’m going to read it several times to get lessons for my own

  8. AvaNoah

    I have been checking out some of your articles and i must say nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your blog.

  9. Chris Pelletier

    Personally, I think being grateful and expressing that gratefulness is something God wants us to do. Ultimately, we are to praise and thank Him because He is the Creator of all things, and He is the Giver of life. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. The Bible also says in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Some other passages to consider are Psalm 100 and James 1:17.

  10. Tom Farmer

    thank you so much for this article. I am a mayor of a small town that is constantly looking for positive messages to send out during the Pandemic we face daily in our lives. I woke up this morning wanting to tell my citizens about the word Gratitude that we should show toward the many heroes we have in our community that normally we take for granted, you know like those people that usually no one takes time to say thank you to but do provide a service for us that honestly we expect such as: waiters and waitresses, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, truck drivers, medical people, utility people that keep our electricity, water, and sewer going, our first responders, police, fire department, teachers that have our kids for 180 days out of the year, nursery workers, sanitation workers that pick up our trash, custodians that keep our areas clean,
    basically anyone that provides a service for us that we have come to expect and taken for granted for so many years. Your article has reinforced what I have always believed and that is as a nation we are spoiled and really do not know what we truly have and once we realize it we need to say thank you for it all and truly be appreciative for all these services which provide a quality of life for us, which provide convenience for our lives, and which provide so much to just add to our lives. Thank you for this article

    • Lucinda Allen

      Tom, that is a beautiful sentiment and I couldn’t agree more!
      We as a society even deem these jobs as “low-skill workers”- yet ironically, when a crisis hits these are the guys keeping the wheels turning.
      I hope your words will inspire others to be thankful and never take each other for granted. 🙂

  11. Mike

    if you can not be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you escape. Thanks

  12. Akshay Patel

    Positive psychology is really great idea to introduce the quality of life with a practice worksheet which I really like.
    Just to read and know something important it’s not long-lasting, but practicing it every day it’s very important.
    And the way you are representing the ideas, concepts, and more it’s really amazing and very helpful to me.
    Thank you very much for doing this amazing hard work for us.

  13. Philip Crenigan

    Thank you so much for the source material in this article . As an Executive Coach I have found that helping clients nurture this capability or trait has had profound positive impacts for the client . In the workplace acknowledging others and their contribution drives engagement and self worth . It costs nothing but is felt by all . Thank you ?

  14. Gisele Mathews

    Can lack of gratitude be a symptom of the autism spectrum disorders?

  15. Sazi

    It is amazing how life/God speaks consistently on the same message and theme at any particular time in one’s life.
    This morning, I read the chapter on gratitude from Wallace D Wattles’ book ‘the science of success’.
    And then again the same thing in Rhonda Byrne’s ‘the secret’ when I read it last night.
    I went to church yesterday (it had been a while since last I went) and the preacher also made a statement “what you appreciate appreciates”.
    On my way to the airport this morning, my Uber driver started talking about being grateful about the things he has compared to someone else who does not even have what little he may complain about.
    And now this article… Thank you and thank you.
    The link between gratitude and morality I had never before thought of, but now it makes perfect sense.
    Whether it is with regard to financial fraud or cheating in a relationship, it seems that the root cause may very likely be lack of appreciation for what you have.
    Similarly, the link between depression and general unhappiness to lack of gratitude also makes sense.
    To sum it all up for me is a quote I once read which stated that happiness does not lead to gratitude, but it is gratitude that leads to happiness.

  16. Vin Broderick

    Great article and resource. I would add one thing. It is possible to feel grateful for something that we pay for. I often feel gratitude when something is carefully made or crafted, or when someone does a particularly good job building something. I may be paying for the construction of a building, but I was so grateful for the way the builder did it, and for the spirit of the gift, that I hired him full time!

  17. silouane LM

    gratitude give sense to our present and the gratefull person for me are the happiest

  18. Murvy R Walcott

    Hello and thank you.
    I feel so blessed and appreciative to read this article at a time when I needed it the most. It has helped me tremendously. I will practice the exercises mentioned. Thank you.


    Gratitude can create something from formless substance to a solid substance if you mix with faith

  20. Viviana Rodriguez

    It is amazing how we can feel happy about a website

  21. janet kihiko

    I can testify to thankfulness increasing my joy in life! To be thankful for the smallestthings even in tough situations is very powerful.it is hard to become down hearted when you put thanksgiving on your lips. I laugh alot and smile alot! Thank God.

  22. James

    WOw that was just amazing article ever read thanks for sharing this much info

  23. Patrick Gage

    Wow, what a Great way to feel Great about how we can use Gratefulness to make others feel Joy, Dignity & Peace♡

  24. AR

    in my opinion Gratitude is a behavior, similar word to Gourmand.

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  26. Michael John

    Thank you so much for share this article about gratitude. I loved this site!

  27. Pravin Y. Kakade

    Thank you so much for creating such wonderful article on nearer to Godly word is “Gratitude”!! You mentioning various views on Gratitude in not only simple ways but some close to heart touching language!! So deeply appreciation for everyone, forever…!!!!

  28. Terry Wilkinson

    Great article

  29. Clarice

    Thank you so much for share this article about gratitude. I loved this site!

  30. Poli

    Gratitude is the key that opens any door. It’s a powerful practice.

  31. Roy

    Thank you! such a great article, really puts things into perspective. although I’ve been using forms of gratitude in my session and workshops as an luminary coach, I am now able to obtain more results by my clients, able show to by example, that being grateful is an impulse to a better way of living and quality of life.
    Roy ‘Evolution-Awareness’

    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      That’s great Roy ? Thank you so much for your comment.

  32. kishlay kumar

    wow what a beautiful explaination of gratitude

  33. Mark

    Thanks for sharing this piece of content. Well written Paul! Before i knew i was at the end 😉
    Unbelievable that changing some words can make such a difference. I am not always aware of this. Maybe a good intention for 2015 🙂

    • Ariela Sallo

      Is this a sad time that happend long ago?

  34. Erin Rectanus

    This article is particularly fascinating because gratitude is such a simple and yet refreshing concept. It is interesting to think that something so easy as saying “thank you” can make such a profound difference to not only yourself and your own happiness but someone else’s as well. Saying thanks is often forgotten or pushed aside due to other more pressing matters. I have often times found myself putting off or avoiding things such as thank you cards around the holidays or my birthday. However, after sitting down, taking the time to reflect on what has been given to me, and responding with genuine gratitude, I find myself feeling refreshed with a new sense of purpose and happiness.
    In addition to what was mentioned in this article, I believe feeling and showing gratitude is a humbling experience. By feeling grateful, we are admitting to ourselves that we can’t just assume we deserve certain pleasures in life. Instead we have to work for what have and be grateful for what comes our way. Most yoga and meditation practices focus on gratitude because it breaks down our walls and helps to remind us that we are all imperfectly human and that is ok. We are all remarkably quite similar. Feeling content and satisfied with what we have and who we are is important for us to grow in a positive direction. Additionally, reflecting on what makes life sparkle creates space for more positives to come in. The “Going Forward” section in this article relates to this idea by showing how gratitude can remove the obstacles that hold us back such as stress. I see two options in life. Regress backwards, and feel continuously cheated by the world or move forward, and utilize your strengths by focusing on what you have been given by the world.

    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Wow – thank you for sharing such great insights with us Erin!

  35. Rasa

    First of all, thank you for such a wonderful and informative article!
    Few question crossed my mind while I was thinking about different ways of showing gratitude. First – how about cultural differences? For instance, for a person from a more reserved country having a Facebook wall filled with gratefulness could be quite overwhelming and maybe even annoying. What do you think?
    In my opinion,then face-to-face contact does the best job, ’cause it creates experience, it makes you really feel and spread that to your loved ones. However, it is interesting to look up about gratitude in different cultures and how to express it (definitely there are differences between eastern and western countries, right?).
    Next, I completely agree with the notion that there is a lack of attention given to the positive emotions, my other question is how to find the equilibrium between being positive and becoming a fanatic of positivism (we all know that when something is too much it’s not good).
    And well, maybe showing gratitude for negative things is also not a bad idea? I mean we all face challenges from which we learn and showing that to others could be encouraging, i.e. knowing that a path to feeling and expressing not only gratitude, but other positive emotions too, is filled with different colours enriches your life with variety and different experiences.
    Again thank you and you gave me a lot of what to think about!Cheers!:)

  36. G Angela

    Thanks for sharing, you have reinforced and motivated me to continue to remain grateful. Gratitude keeps me happy and smiling, it also makes me feel rich and provides me with a lot of energy to keep moving no matter what happens in life. .. Gratitude has kept me healthy and productive…

  37. Azeem

    Gratitude enables individuals to live in the present moment with good wishes and good feelings for self and others, having positive outlook towards life.
    It also helps in secreting good hormones in the brain, which in turn helps to maintain the well-being of psychological, biological and social health.

    • Betty

      Oh, yeah, That’s also very true! One of the hormones playing a part gratitude is no other then the well known Oxytocin, the famous love and trust drug.
      Two other reasons I have recently learned that make gratitude such a positive feeling, is how gratitude helps us to build better relationships with present or future acquaintances and having a deeper view on their actions by putting more weight on the what the gesture meant and the though it may have behind it, and less on the gesture itself.
      Secondly, true gratitude has a small, yet important negative self-feeling element to it. Though the name of this trait might look out of context, negative self-feeling can actually make us more humble and appreciative, and humility in its turn has its own social benefits.

  38. Betty

    Thank you so much for the information in this piece! It was fascinating to read.
    I really do think gratitude is one of the most over looked aspects in our life, especially when most of us (me included) don’t conduct any religious lifestyle and have no practices that refer that subject.
    There’s a “Tag Challenge” gaining more and more popularity on FaceBook, and other media channels, called the “Happiness Challenge”- where you post daily at least 3 thing you are grateful for in your life for at least a week, or – if you really are committed to making an actual change in your life – a full 100 days!
    I can tell from own experience and from friends that had done it too, how it can change your view on life – how having to find as little as 3 things you are grateful for that day lifts the focus of the negative parts and puts it’s on the positives, just because you are actively looking for whats good in life, not leaving yourself much time to dwell on what isn’t. It really helps you putting your life into some perspective, stop taking all the good in life for granted, and you might even discover new positive aspects of your day!
    And the best part – after a while, you make it a habit!
    To me personaly, one of the best things gratitude gave me was a chance to lose my cool.
    People today are so afraid to show authentic emotions- be it to a friend or family member, and even more so, to a stranger. Doing a simple act to show gratitude, was the first step for me towards opening up.
    If you haven’t yet, but this interests you, I advise everyone to take a part in this “challenge”. Not only will it cultivate positivity in your life, you will also be spreading the word around! One my favorite things about this challenge is how my tweeter and facebook page became so brightened up as more and more people joined me, and reading their thankful messages to the world was a pleasure on its own!


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