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Essays About Gratitude: Top 5 Examples and 7 Writing Prompts

Writing essays about gratitude is a way to show appreciation and recognize kindness. See our top examples and prompts you can use as a guide for your essay.

I’m not outspoken, and everyone close to me knows this. However, this one time, a family friend visited us and gave me a set of paintbrushes for my birthday. I thanked them, but that didn’t feel enough as they went out of their way to pick high-quality brushes and deliver them in person, even if we weren’t close. That kind lady wanted me to pursue my interest in painting, and I have felt grateful to her ever since. 

For those like me who can’t fully express gratitude through words, it becomes an intimidating task to even write about it. After all, essays about gratitude require finesse and sincerity that are hard to prove through pen and paper.

5 Essay Examples

1. the expression of gratitude by writer rosalyn, 2. a good life is a gratitude, meaning, and love by anonymous on, 3. the magical power of gratitude and saying ‘thank you’ by anonymous on, 4. essay on gratitude by anonymous on  , 5. meaning and importance of gratitude by anonymous on, 1. the true meaning of gratitude, 2. expressing gratitude, 3. the benefits of practicing gratitude, 4. culture and gratitude expression, 5. values and gratitude, 6. the boundaries of gratitude, 7. practicing gratitude: a day in my life.

“… Participants who expressed gratitude in a close relationship would have greater relationship satisfaction than those who did not express gratitude.”

The essay contains a compilation of information from various studies to discuss the effect of expressing gratitude verbally. Rosalyn discovers that the rate of relationship satisfaction increases after expressing gratitude and leads to lasting relationships and reduced divorce rates. 

Rosalyn notes how expressions of gratitude act as positive reinforcement, encouraging the recipient to be more inclined to agree to do favors. For instance, many sellers include gifts and discounts with purchases to express gratitude and cultivate repeat buyers.

“… A good life is a complex term with different meanings, but all the interpretations have a particular point in common – well-being is associated with gratitude, meaning, and love.”

The author defines the “good life” as spiritual contentment and shares their opinion and experiences as a clinical mental health counselor. They remark that gratefulness can signify healthy well-being since it means an individual is intent on what they have instead of what they don’t. Further, people filled with gratitude can find meaning in life in time and with practice. 

The counselor also mentions the importance of having someone who truly loves and cares for us to remind us to be grateful even in the darkest times of our lives. In conclusion, the writer reiterates that it’s complicated to define what a good life entails, but all definitions directly connect to gratitude, meaning, and love.

“I discovered a secret about life, and as a result of my discovery, one of the things I began to do was practice gratitude each day, to say “thank you!” more. As a result of this, everything in my life changed, and the more I practiced gratitude, the more miraculous were the result.”

To demonstrate the positive benefits of feeling and expressing gratitude, the author narrates their experiences in this short essay. They talk about their financial, relationship, and health problems and how they were all resolved when they started to be grateful. The writer considers this magical, but a change in their perception helped them overcome their problems.

“… Gratitude is the most essential human expression which proves that humans are sensible and have emotions. Moreover, this emotion does not just limit to humans but also animals. Often, we see them express their gratitude and return the favour.”

In this essay, the author identifies gratitude as a beautiful way of enriching our existence. It’s a vital skill that every person should learn and practice to invite goodness and get various benefits, such as stronger relationships and a happier outlook. The writer believes it’s crucial to always express gratitude to inspire others and remember that humans are emotional beings.

“Gratitude leads to feelings of happiness and satisfaction as it increases awareness that others have done something nice for you. As a result, gratitude and happiness become mutually reinforcing and build upon each other. Science shows that gratitude is a particular emotion, since it consists of a feeling of appreciation that does not require specific objects or actions which instigate it.”

This essay focuses on the importance and benefits of practicing gratitude which the author refers to as “the greatest gift to humanity.” Gratitude is vital as it helps us recognize positive and negative things to assist us in finding meaning and purpose in life. The author states that practicing mindfulness and meditation brings about gratitude that will improve various aspects of one’s life.

7 Prompts for Essays About Gratitude

Essays About Gratitude: The true meaning of gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most salient topics to write about and discuss. It’s a positive emotion we feel whenever we receive something that demonstrates the giver’s sincerity. Use this prompt to discuss the meaning of gratitude with your readers in two ways. First, explain its definition according to dictionaries and experts. Then use your personal experiences to illustrate what gratitude means to you.

“Thank you!” is a simple but effective phrase to express appreciation to those who try to improve your day. For this prompt, list more ways to express gratitude through verbal communication or actions. Add tips on showing gratitude while considering important factors such as the event or context, relationship to the recipient, and suitability of the method.

Focus your essay on the advantages one can get from practicing gratitude; use this prompt to encourage your readers to acknowledge the good things happening to them. Provide relevant research and examples that show the benefits of demonstrating gratitude.

For help with this topic, read our guide explaining what is persuasive writing .

Essays About Gratitude: Culture and gratitude expression

The environment an individual grows up in plays a big part in how they express gratitude. Explore different cultures worldwide and discuss how beliefs, religion, and culture can affect how groups display gratefulness. Show your reader’s how different cultures communicate gratitude, including the common reasons they do so. Then, share how you were taught to convey gratitude in your culture.

Exercising gratitude trains us to establish positive values such as enthusiasm and optimism. Use this prompt to identify and discuss the values ​​one can gain from learning about gratitude. Discuss the values you developed while practicing gratitude to make your essay relatable. You might also be interested in these essays about overcoming challenges .

Although gratitude is one of the most positive emotions we can experience, it should still be practiced within healthy boundaries. Such limitations should be applied when a person develops extreme beliefs involving gratitude. An example is over-optimism, where an individual becomes unrealistically optimistic to the point that they ignore the existence of their problems. In your essay, discuss how to practice gratitude in a way that positively influences your life.

In this essay, reflect on a typical day in your life and highlight the parts that make you feel thankful. This prompt will help you appreciate the trivial things in your life and teach your readers how to treasure even the minor things in their lives. For example, having the opportunity to wake up and live another day already deserves your gratitude. Discuss all the things that you are grateful for in this heartfelt essay.

Take your essay to the next level with the best essay checkers .

essays about gratitude

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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Gratitude Essay

500 words essay on gratitude.

Gratitude is a beautiful way of enriching our lives. It refers to the feeling and attitude of appreciation and thankfulness for the good which we receive in life. It has been proven scientifically that when we express our gratefulness to other people, we feel happier and calmer. Thus, it allows goodness to enter our lives. For instance, when a stranger holds the door for you or greets you, it makes you feel happy. Thus, a gratitude essay will teach us how advantageous gratitude is.

gratitude essay

Advantages of Gratitude

Gratitude can have a lot of advantages to our personal as well as social life. First of all, it strengthens our relationship with others. When you have a thankful feeling, it will strengthen the bond with the other party and enhance the trust factor and feeling of respect and love .

Moreover, it also makes us happy. When we express gratitude or receive it, we feel happy either way. As a result, people who have gratitude do not stress out a lot. Similarly, being full of gratitude makes society sensible.

In other words, people become considerate and never leave a chance to say thank you to others. Thus, it helps society to progress in the right direction with the right tools needed for the development of it.

Most importantly, gratitude reduces comparisons and promotes acknowledgement. When we become thankful, we do not compare ourselves to others. Thus, it helps us acknowledge our own achievements and blessings and remain content.

How to Practice Gratitude

There are a lot of ways through which we can practice gratitude. Some of the most effective ones include making a note of every good thing which happens to us every day. Moreover, also note the people behind it.

This will help you to return the favour at an appropriate time. Never forget to return this favour as they deserve it too. Moreover, always make sure to appreciate everything in life ranging from nature to animals .

We are lucky enough to have animals, green plants, fresh air and much more. Thus, never stop acknowledging the importance of these essential things. Moreover, always remember to say thank you to different community helpers.

It can be anyone, whether your gardener or sweeper or even the police officers. Make sure you thank them for their service whenever it is possible for you. Remember that to wake up every day is no less than a blessing itself.

So, make sure to be grateful for a new day and thank the almighty for making you wiser and stronger with each passing day. Most importantly, try to avoid complaining about things when they don’t go your way. You don’t know about the blessing behind it.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Conclusion of Gratitude Essay

All in all, gratitude is the most essential human expression which proves that humans are sensible and have emotions. Moreover, this emotion does not just limit to humans but also animals. Often, we see then express their gratitude and return the favour. Thus, we must always express our gratitude.

FAQ of Gratitude Essay

Question 1: Why is gratitude important?

Answer 1: Gratitude is strongly and constantly connected with greater happiness. It is what helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, advance their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Question 2: How can gratitude change your life?

Answer 2: Gratitude can change your life as it makes you appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t have. It can change your life  because it is the single most powerful source of inspiration that any individual can tap into if they simply stop and pay attention to the simplistic beauty and miracle of life.

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Gratitude Essay

500+ words essay on be grateful.

During difficult times, it’s easy to feel frustrated or drained by life. Negative feelings and thoughts can creep in, which can make it difficult to see the positive things in life. However, one simple practice of gratitude can help to eliminate these feelings. We take a look at the importance of being grateful through this being grateful essay. Students can also use this essay to practise more essays on similar topics like gratitude, being grateful, being grateful etc. Doing so will improve their writing section and increase their scores in the English exam.

What is Gratitude?

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. The word gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation or thanks. It is defined as “a sense of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift, whether the gift is a tangible benefit from a specific other or a moment of peaceful bliss evoked by natural beauty”. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.

There are different ways of expressing one’s thanks. Gratitude is one such emotion. People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. Some of them apply it to the past by retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings. Some people are grateful for the present as they do not take good fortune for granted. Some people show gratitude for the future as they hope for a better future and maintain an optimistic attitude.

Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude enhances the quality of life and makes existence more worth living. It opens the human heart and carries the urge to give back-to do something good in return, either for the person who helped us or for someone else. It establishes social harmony and creates an environment where everyone is appreciating and providing support to each other. It also improves the quality of personal lives and strengthens the bond with family and friends. Expressing gratitude keeps us happy, healthy and stress-free.

Feeling grateful reminds people of a joyous event, and expressing gratitude to others often strengthens relationships. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. When we are grateful for others, we do not compare ourselves with others based on their financial situation or other factors, we simply appreciate their achievements. Thus, it helps in elevating the feeling of comparison, jealousy and hate. Being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or supreme power.

How to Practise Gratitude

Everyone can benefit from making an effort to practise gratitude in day-to-day life. It can be achieved simply by paying attention to the good things that happen to us. We must appreciate and accept the importance of everything in nature and our surroundings. Also, we should not forget to return the favour at an appropriate time. Whenever possible, we should thank the people around us, who make our lives comfortable, such as washermen, gardeners, security guards, sweepers, delivery men, etc. We should make a habit of thanking God when we wake up in the morning and before sleeping at night.

Gratitude is the best way to return the favour to God, nature, society, friends and relatives for the thousands of good deeds that they do for us.

We hope students must have found this “Essay on Gratitude” useful for their studies. To access more study material and get the latest updates on CBSE/ICSE/State Board/Competitive exams, keep visiting BYJU’S. Also, download the BYJU’S App for interactive study videos.

Frequently asked Questions on Gratitude Essay

How to show gratitude towards others.

You can show gratitude by thanking people who help you and being courteous and friendly. You can iInvite people over for lunch/dinner to thank them for something they did for you. Always listen intently to what others are saying to show appreciation and care.

Why is showing gratitude so important?

Psychologists show that there is a positive impact on the brain and body of people who show gratitude.

What are the benefits of showing gratitude?

Showing gratitude helps in emotional regulation by reducing stress and burnout. It also increases your mental resilience because you are able to build meaningful relations with others.

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Common Application Essay Option 4—Gratitude

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One major change to the Common Application in the 2021-22 admissions cycle is the addition of a new essay prompt. Option #4 now reads, "Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?"

This new prompt replaces the earlier question about solving a problem : "Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma--anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution." Keep in mind that colleges and universities still want to learn about students interested in solving significant problems, and you still have the "Topic of Your Choice" option if you feel your essay would fit well under the former option #4.

According to Common App , the new prompt serves a couple purposes. First, it replaces a prompt that wasn't very popular among college applicants. More importantly, it gives applicants the opportunity to write about something positive at a difficult time in world history. Rather than write about significant problems, challenges, and anxieties, the new prompt #4 invites you to share something heartfelt and uplifting.

The Importance of Gratitude and Kindness

During the college application process, it's easy and tempting to focus entirely on your personal accomplishments: good grades, challenging AP courses, leadership experiences, athletic ability, musical talent, and so on. Even community service can sometimes come across as focused on your self—hours spent to bolster your application credentials.

Gratitude, however, is a largely selfless feeling. It's about your appreciation for someone else. It's recognizing that your growth and success wouldn't be possible without others. When you express gratitude, you aren't saying "look at me!" Rather, you are appreciating those who have helped you become you.

The folks at Common App have expressed that the new prompt allows students to write about something positive. This is true, but the prompt serves a bigger purpose in the admissions selection process. Highly selective schools end up rejecting thousands of well-qualified applicants, and those decisions will often come down to questions of character rather than GPA and SAT scores.

Think of it this way: when a college is choosing between two students who are academically strong and impressive on the extracurricular front, they will choose the student who seems to be the most kind and generous. Admissions officers are building a campus community with their admissions decisions, and they want to create a community filled with students who appreciate others, build each other up, and recognize the contributions of peers, staff, and professors. They want to admit students who will be kind roommates, collaborative lab partners, and supportive team members.

Chris Peterson, an assistant director of admissions at MIT, wrote a blog post in which he identified three essential qualities for getting into one of the world's most selective schools: do well in school, pursue your passion, and be nice. He notes that this last quality "cannot be overstated." MIT is not a Common Application member, but the point applies perfectly to the value of prompt #4. A winning essay doesn't say "me, me, me!" It shows that you are not only an accomplished person, but also someone who knows how to say "thank you."

Breaking Down the Essay Prompt

Before crafting your essay on prompt #4, it's essential to understand everything that the prompt is asking you to do as well as what it is not asking. The prompt is just 28 words long:

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

The prompt has several important elements to consider.


The very first word in the prompt is one of the most significant. "Reflect" means much more than "write about" or "describe." When you reflect on something, you look inward and reveal self-awareness. You employ critical thinking skills to explain why something is important. Reflection is an act of self-discovery as you examine what you have learned and why it was meaningful.

Here's a quick example:

Unreflective writing: Coach Strauss always taught the team the value of hard work. We practiced hours every day regardless of the weather. The coach's strategy paid off when we won the state championship. The effort we put in wasn't always enjoyable, but the team's success showed that the path to success requires sacrifices.

Reflective writing: I used to resent those miserable and seemingly endless soccer practices in the rain or even snow. Looking back, I now recognize the value of what Coach Strauss was teaching the team. To succeed, we need to work through small obstacles. We need to persevere even when motivation is hard to find. We need to recognize that we always have room for improvement, and we need to support each other as we work towards that goal. I can now see that her lessons were about much more than soccer, and thanks to her I am not just a better athlete, but a better student, peer, sister, and community member.

The first example describes the writer's soccer experience. Nothing in the passage looks inward to analyze the importance of Coach Strauss to the writer's personal awareness and development. The second passage succeeds on this front—it expresses gratitude for Coach Strauss and the way that her lessons helped the writer grow.

"Something" and "Someone"

A nice feature of the Common Application is that all of the essay prompts are designed to give you a lot of latitude in how you respond. The words "something" and "someone" in the new prompt #4 are deliberately vague. You can write about anyone and anything. Possible choices for the person you focus on include

  • A teacher who helped you realize your potential or see the world in a new way.
  • A coach who taught you valuable skills.
  • A family member whose support, love, or guidance helped you become the person you are today.
  • A peer who was always there for you in challenging times.
  • A student you mentored or tutored who ended up teaching you something valuable in the process.
  • A member of your church or community who had a meaningful and positive impact on your life.

The wording of the prompt implies that the "someone" is a living person, so you'll want to avoid writing about an author, God, a pet, or a historical figure (but feel free to use prompt #7 for these topics).

As you think about the "something" that the person did for you, make sure it is meaningful. It needs to be something that has changed you in a positive way.


When the prompt states that you should write about something that has made you "happy or thankful in a surprising way," don't get too hung up on that word "surprising." This doesn't mean that you need to be shocked or overwhelmed by whatever it is that a person did for you. Don't think of the term "surprising" as something that made you speechless and caused an adrenalin rush. It does not need to be something earth-shattering or even unusual. Rather, the "surprise" can simply be something that expanded your world view, made you think about something you hadn't considered before, or caused you to appreciate something new. Some of the best essays focus on something small or subtle that changed you in a meaningful way.


The essay's focus on "gratitude" and thankfulness means that you absolutely must show appreciation for someone other than yourself. One main purpose of this essay, in fact, is to show that you recognize the contributions that others have made to your personal journey. Be generous. Be kind. Show that you value the people who have made you into the person you are.

"Affected" and "Motivated"

Here's the tricky part. Essay #4 is all about recognizing someone else and showing gratitude for the way in which that person has enriched your life. That said, every college application essay needs to be about you. The admissions folks aren't really interested in learning about someone else. They are interested in learning about the student they are considering for admission.

This means you have a careful balancing act to perform with essay option #4. You need to write about the person who contributed to your life in a meaningful and surprising way, but you also need to be introspective and present why that person was so important to you. What did you learn from the person? How did you grow? How did that person change your world view, strengthen your convictions, help you overcome an obstacle, or give you a new sense of direction?

When you answer questions like these, you are writing about yourself. The true goal of this essay is to show that you are a grateful, kind, thoughtful, introspective, and generous person. The focus isn't so much on the person you are writing about, but your ability to cherish that person.

Avoid These Mistakes

You can write about anyone who was important to you, and your gratitude can be for something large or small as long as it affected you in a meaningful way. There are, however, several mistakes you want to avoid when responding to the prompt:

Don't display ego . Prompt #4 is about acknowledging the important contributions others have made to your life, so a boastful or egotistical tone will be entirely out of place. If at its heart your essay says "Coach Strauss helped make me into the award-winning national champion I am today," you've missed the mark.

Do more than describe . Make sure you "reflect" and explore how the person "affected" and "motivated" you. A winning essay needs to be thoughtful and introspective. If you spend the entire essay describing the person who has made you grateful, the admissions folks won't get to know you better and your essay won't have done its job.

Don't be clever with the "someone." Write about a real living human being who has enriched your life in a direct way. Don't write about yourself, God, Abe Lincoln, or Harry Potter. You also don't want to write about a sports idol or musician—while they may have influenced you, they didn't actually do something specifically "for you."

Attend to the Writing

Never forget that your Common Application serves not just to help the admissions folks get to know you, but also to show that you are a capable writer. No matter what your major is, a significant part of your college GPA is going to stem from writing. Successful college students can write clear, engaging, error-free prose. You'll want to pay careful attention to your essay's style , tone, and mechanics. At a highly selective university with more qualified applicants than can be admitted, the difference between an acceptance and rejection can come down to some glaring grammatical errors in the essay.

If you aren't confident in your writing ability, seek help. Have multiple people read your essay. Get feedback from parents and peers, Even more valuable will probably be feedback from your high school counselor and English teacher, for they have more experience with personal essays.

A Final Note for Common Application Option #4

This essay prompt can be approached is so many different ways, but at its heart, the essay needs to accomplish one thing: it needs to show that you are the type of person the college wants to join their campus community. Make sure you come across as someone who is kind, generous, and thoughtful. Show that you care about good writing by crafting an engaging essay that is free of any significant errors. Finally, don't be afraid to let your personality shine. Don't hold back (within reason) if you are a quirky or humorous person. The essay needs to sound like you.

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  • "Grandpa's Rubik's Cube"—Sample Common Application Essay, Option #4
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Gratitude Essay Examples

An essay on gratitude can be an excellent opportunity to reflect on the things in life that we often take for granted. It’s a chance to acknowledge the people, experiences, and things that have made a positive impact on our lives. If you’re struggling to get started, here are some gratitude essay examples and tips to help you craft a perfect essay on gratitude.

One way to approach an essay on gratitude is to reflect on specific instances where you’ve experienced gratitude in your life. For example, you might write about a time when someone went out of their way to help you or when you received unexpected kindness from a stranger. These examples can help you illustrate the power of gratitude in our lives and show how it can change our perspective on the world.

Another approach is to write about the benefits of gratitude. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can improve mental health, boost happiness, and even enhance physical health. You can explore these benefits in your essay and provide examples of how you’ve experienced them in your own life.

If you’re a college student, consider writing a gratitude college essay. In this essay, you can reflect on how college has shaped you and the opportunities it has provided. You might write about a professor who inspired you or a project that challenged you in new ways. By expressing gratitude for your college experience, you’ll be able to showcase your growth and appreciation for the opportunities you’ve had.

Overall, an essay on gratitude can be a powerful tool for personal growth and reflection. By exploring gratitude in your life, you’ll be able to recognize the good things that are often overlooked and find ways to cultivate more gratitude in your daily life. Use the gratitude essay examples and tips above to craft a perfect essay on gratitude and let your gratitude shine through your words.

The Power Of Gratitude In Our Lives

People who know how to express gratitude externally and internally are healthier people who enjoy their well-being because they work their positive emotions. Let's see it in more depth in this article. 1. Gratitude is not only for good times People tend to fall into...

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Being Thankful And Expressing Gratitude

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Gratitude: Knowledge of Giving Thanks in Life

To take things for granted is a very human attitude. In general, it is difficult for us to appreciate what we are used to. There is a mechanism in us that makes us live, unconsciously, with great greed for novelty. Yes, as soon as this...

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Gratitude and the Act of Giving on Valentine's Day

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Thank You Day: Remembering the Feeling of Gratitude

The 'Thank you day' takes place all over the world on the eleventh of january. This unique day reminds us to demonstrate our thankfulness to those people whose presence in our lives is perfectly meaningful. There exist many people in our life, but there are...

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How Can the Virtue of Gratitude Enchanse Your Career Growth

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What Practicing Gratitude Taught Me

I had never realized how lucky I am, and the power that I have to motivate others until I practiced gratitude. The exercise involved being grateful to myself, and showing gratitude to others every day, even for the simplest things. By the end of the...

How the Power of Gratitude Can Change Your Life

To have a healthier heart we must relax and learn to value the little things and value what we have in its rightful measure. Lao Tzu left us a phrase that should make us reflect: 'gratitude is the memory of the heart'. The power of...

Living with Gratitude: Opening the Door for Self-Improvement

Gratitude Living: More often than not, we find ourselves going through life with a lot of anxiety, stress, sadness and hurt and mostly for things that are beyond our control. In the present world, it seems that we are all in a craze to achieve...

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Essay on Gratitude

Students are often asked to write an essay on Gratitude in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Gratitude

Understanding gratitude.

Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful. It is an emotion we express when we appreciate the good things in our lives. This could be anything from a kind gesture, a gift, or even the love we receive from our family and friends.

Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude is important because it helps us focus on the positive aspects of our lives. It makes us happier and more content. When we are grateful, we tend to be more positive and optimistic, which is good for our overall well-being.

Practicing Gratitude

We can practice gratitude by thanking people who help us, by appreciating the good things in our lives and by being mindful of our blessings. This can make us more positive and happier.

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250 Words Essay on Gratitude

The essence of gratitude.

Gratitude, a human emotion that signifies acknowledgment and appreciation, is a fundamental aspect of our lives. It is not merely a reactionary response to kindness but a proactive approach to perceive the world positively.

Gratitude and Well-being

Scientific studies have established a strong correlation between gratitude and an individual’s well-being. Gratitude encourages positive emotions, fosters resilience, and enhances relationships. When we express gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives, which often stems from outside ourselves. This recognition establishes a connection with something larger than our individual experiences—whether other people, nature, or a higher power—thus broadening our perspective and enhancing our overall life satisfaction.

Gratitude as a Virtue

Gratitude is a virtue that transcends cultural, religious, and philosophical boundaries. It is a universal human experience that can be cultivated and enhanced. The practice of gratitude can have profound effects on our lives, from boosting our mental health to improving our relationships. It inspires us to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, fostering an attitude of optimism and contentment.

In conclusion, gratitude is not just an emotion but a practice that can significantly improve our lives. By consciously cultivating gratitude, we can shift our focus from what our lives lack to the abundance that’s already present. This shift can lead to greater emotional well-being, improved relationships, and a more fulfilling life. Therefore, gratitude is not just a courtesy or an act of good manners, but a key to a happier and healthier life.

500 Words Essay on Gratitude

The power of gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can significantly shape our lives. It’s not just about saying ‘thank you’; it’s a deeper appreciation that generates positive energy within us and around us. In essence, gratitude is a way of seeing that alters our gaze.

The Science of Gratitude

Scientific studies have shown that gratitude can have profound and positive effects on our health, our moods, and even the survival of our marriages. Gratitude activates the hypothalamus, a part of the brain responsible for several crucial tasks, and triggers the release of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter. This makes us feel happier, less stressed, and more connected to others.

The practice of gratitude can improve our psychological well-being by redirecting our attention to the positive aspects of life. It can help us to appreciate the small things that often go unnoticed, but are nonetheless essential for our happiness. Gratitude can even act as an antidote to negative emotions such as envy, resentment, and regret.

Gratitude and Relationships

Gratitude can also strengthen relationships. Expressing gratitude to others can increase our social support, deepen our relationships, and make us feel more connected to the people around us. It can also help to build trust and encourage reciprocal kindness.

Gratitude and Resilience

In the face of adversity, gratitude has the power to heal, to be resilient, and to move us forward. It allows us to find meaning in our suffering and to see the bigger picture, which can help us to overcome difficulties and build resilience for future challenges.

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as keeping a gratitude journal, where we write down things for which we are grateful. This simple act can help us to focus on the positive aspects of our life, to appreciate what we have, and to not take things for granted.

In conclusion, gratitude is more than just a polite thank you. It is a powerful tool that can transform our lives, improve our health, enhance our relationships, and build resilience. By practicing gratitude, we can shift our focus from what we lack to the abundance that is already present in our lives. The power of gratitude lies in its ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, to turn what we have into enough, and to remind us that the best gifts in life are often the ones we already have.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Gratitude — Essence of Gratitude: the Power of Appreciation


Essence of Gratitude: The Power of Appreciation

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Published: Sep 7, 2023

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essays about gratitude


Essay on Gratitude

Essay on Gratitude (it brings happiness in life)

Essay on Gratitude

Gratitude is an essential virtue, and it makes people happier. Yet what does gratitude mean? What does it look like? In this essay, I will explore the power of gratitude and how you can cultivate it in your life.

1) What is gratitude?

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. Gratitude helps with healing past wounds, developing empathy, and keeping a positive outlook on life.

This is because gratitude emphasizes the good in life and fosters an appreciation for what you have. It can also decrease feelings of depression, stress, and anger.

Gratitude also leads to greater personal growth by helping you see your flaws with more clarity. It can even lead to success!

It is a feeling of appreciation, and it can make your life more joyful. It’s about looking for the good in your life rather than focusing on the negative.

It can even be a powerful antidote to stress and depression. You don’t need any special skills to practice gratitude, but you do need to remember these five steps:

  • Notice what you’re grateful for
  • Think about how it makes you feel
  • Express gratitude verbally and mentally
  • Practice giving back

2) The benefits of gratitude

When you practice gratitude, you can experience increased self-esteem and resilience. For example, people who are in the habit of expressing gratitude have been shown to have more optimism and can think more optimistically.

Gratitude can improve your physical health because it helps you cope with stress. Studies have shown that gratitude improves your immune system, decreases blood pressure, and boosts happiness levels. You may even be able to live longer just by being grateful!

The positive effects of gratitude can be experienced both psychologically and physiologically. With a grateful mindset, you’ll feel more positive about yourself and life in general. You’ll have increased energy levels, improved sleep, and a stronger immune system.

3) How to practice gratitude in your life

Let’s break down each component of practicing gratitude:

  • Observing: “Where I am right now is where I am meant to be.”
  • Identifying: “I see that I am now in my body and my body is here for me to learn from.”
  • Receiving: “I am taking care of my body with nourishment, exercise and rest.”
  • Expressing: “I am learning from this experience and sharing it with others.”
  • Practicing: “I am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy my life.”

4) Gratitude makes you happy

Gratitude is an action, not a feeling, and there are scientific studies that prove it. Researchers at the University of California recently found that people who report higher levels of gratitude report feeling happier than those who don’t.

When researchers asked participants to recall some of their happiest memories, those who had more positive memories were more likely to say they felt happy than those who had sad ones.

The benefits of gratitude don’t end there. Regular practice can lead to better relationships and a more positive outlook on life. In a recent poll of more than 3,000 Americans, happiness expert Adam Grant found that many of the people who said they were the happiest had what you might think are positive traits—for example, they were more helpful and forgiving.

5) Practicing gratitude in your work

I believe that some of the best jobs that people can have are teaching others about gratitude and encouraging others to look for the good in their lives.

They can do so by teaching an ethics-based curriculum to teach students how to find the good in their lives.

These teachers do so by focusing on the fact that life has more to offer than bad or unhappiness, and by focusing on what’s good in their lives and how to be grateful for it.

6) Ways To Show Gratitude

You don’t need a lot of money, time, or effort to make your life happier and healthier. Here are different easy ways to start practicing gratitude.

  • Notice the good: Let’s start with the easiest place to start — noticing the good things that happen in your life. This is a very simple exercise and it will take less than five minutes a day to notice things. As you do this, you may discover something positive about every day and this will remind you how lucky you are.
  • Think about how it makes you feel: Next, stop thinking about how you feel when you observe your blessings. You’ll be practicing gratitude and if you’re thinking about how you feel, you won’t be aware of your blessings.

7) Conclusion

Gratitude is not just feeling happy or lucky to have received something; it’s appreciation and acknowledgment of what you have been given.

Gratitude is a quality that most people see as a positive attribute, but it’s not always easy to live by. Sometimes we can be too embarrassed or shy to share our gratitude with others, or we don’t know how to put into words what we’re grateful for.

It’s important to constantly practice gratitude because it’s a skill we all need to develop if we want to truly be happy in our lives.

Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to practice gratitude, and if you have an electronic device with a camera, you can take a picture of a leaf and put it in your journal to count your blessings.

Essay on Gratitude (it bring happiness in life)

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How to Express Gratitude to Others: 19 Examples & Ideas

Express Gratitude

How did that moment make you and that person feel?

Or maybe you can remember a time someone gave you something, something you didn’t buy or ask for – just a token of their appreciation? It felt pretty good, didn’t it?

This article will look at the ways we can best express our gratitude, the benefits of expressing the gratitude we feel towards others, and how you can practice the act of gratitude whilst learning to appreciate the positive emotions that accompany it.

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.

This Article Contains:

How can we best express gratitude towards others, the benefits of expressing gratitude for life and others, 7 ways to express thanks and gratitude to friends, teachers, and parents, what are gratitude gifts (incl. ideas), what is a gratitude challenge, 7 tips for setting a gratitude challenge, letter of gratitude ideas for thanking parents, more ideas for gratitude emails and posts, 5 gratitude stories, inspiring reflections for gratitude, 5 ideas for expressing everyday gratitude, designing a gratitude bulletin board at work, make a gratitude visit, when is gratitude day (it’s not just thanksgiving), about gratitude month.

  • A Take Home Message
“We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

‘Gratitude’ is a multi-layered, complex concept with multiple definitions . It can be regarded at many levels of analysis ranging from momentary affect to long-term dispositions (McCullough, 2004), as a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation (Sansone & Sansone, 2010), and as the recognition and appreciation of an altruistic gift (Emmons, 2004).

There is a wealth of evidence reflecting on the benefits we derive from expressing gratitude and appreciation; such expressions evoke an array of psychological, social, and physical benefits that promote our psychological, social and physiological health (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010).

Benefits Expressing Gratitude

“There is no duty more indispensable than that of returning a kindness”

Gratitude can have a lasting positive impact if we work towards incorporating it into our daily lives.

The expression of gratitude is a self-promoting exercise, grateful people are found to be more likely to respond with gratitude to a wider range of scenarios and recognize the beneficence on the part of others.

This leads to a positive, self-renewing, feedback loop – the more gratitude we display, the more our subjective wellbeing and resistance to negativity increases, and the more grateful we are likely to be (Emmons & Stern, 2013).

Actions that display gratitude are more valuable than solely feeling gratitude towards others (Lambert, Clark, Durtschi, Fincham, & Graham, 2010). For this very reason, it’s important to recognize the methods by which we can express gratitude effectively and exercise them as and when the situation warrants.

How we choose to express gratitude can depend significantly on the social context – taking a partner to their favorite restaurant to thank them for their support may be a completely suitable practice, but would not be a measured expression of gratitude towards, say, a stranger who held open a door.

Below are just a few ways in which you can express gratitude to others – the list is by no means definitive but is a starting point for finding methods of expressing your thanks.

  • Random acts of kindness. Random acts of kindness can yield substantial reward in terms of subjective wellbeing (Rowland & Curry, 2019). If you see a stranger struggling under a heavy load of shopping, offer a hand. Donate unwanted clothes to charity. Help someone lost with directions. The list is nigh inexhaustible!
  • Be respectful. Maintain standards of etiquette in your day-to-day interactions with strangers. Just because you don’t know them, it doesn’t mean you should withhold the common courtesy you expect yourself. Hold the door open, respect their space, and be mindful of how your actions impact them.
  • Tip your server. Going to the effort to make your experience a positive one, service-industry employees are often unsung heroes. In a fast-paced service environment, stopping a server to read them a gratitude letter isn’t likely to be received well but dropping a tip in the jar (if you can afford to) lets the staff know you’re thankful for their efforts.
  • Volunteer in your community. Volunteering is not only a great way to connect with others and gain experience, it has also been found to increase subjective wellbeing and pose significant health benefits. Thoits and Hewitt (2001) found volunteer work to have a positive impact on elements of personal wellbeing. Those who undertook volunteering opportunities reported increased levels of happiness, life satisfaction , self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health and lower levels of depression.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

William Arthur Ward

Expressing gratitude can lead to significant increases in subjective, psychological, spiritual, and physical wellbeing; the benefits of expressing gratitude are many.

Hill, Allemand, and Roberts (2013) postulated that grateful individuals are better able to form social bonds, utilize coping skills to defer stress, maintain positive affect, and are more creative in problem solving. Bartlett, Condon, Cruz, Baumann, and Desteno (2012) suggested gratitude is related to increases in relationship satisfaction, social affiliation, and facilitates socially inclusive behaviors, even when those actions come at a personal cost to oneself.

Social benefits

The expression of gratitude plays a pivotal role in building and maintaining social relationships. Research into the role of gratitude in real, ongoing, relationships looked at naturally occurring gratitude in college sororities during a week of anonymous gift-giving from existing members to new members (Little Sisters).

Little Sisters’ gratitude was found to be a predictor of their feelings of integration within the sorority and indicated gratitude is about more than repaying benefits; it is about building relationships and aiding the integration and cooperation of group members.

Gratitude serves the social function of promoting relationships with others who are responsive to our likes and dislikes, our needs and preferences, helping us get through difficult times and flourish in good times (Algoe, Haidt & Gable, 2008).

Additionally, expressions of gratitude also increase prosocial behavior (behaviors that are intended to benefit others) by enabling individuals to feel social worth and support while simultaneously reducing their feelings of uncertainty about whether they can help effectively (Grant & Gino, 2010).

Experiencing gratitude is one component that contributes to the fostering of positive feelings, contributing to one’s overall sense of wellbeing. Emmons and McCullough (2003) examined the emotional benefits of gratitude and the link to wellbeing. Participant groups kept a daily or weekly journal under three experimental conditions: ‘negative life events’, ‘things I am grateful for’ and ‘neutral life events’.

Across the study conditions, the gratitude sub-sample consistently showed higher self-reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, determination and energy in comparison with the other two study groups.

Additionally, gratitude is connected to our self-esteem – Kong, Ding, and Zhao (2015) revealed a significant path from gratitude to overall life satisfaction through social support and self-esteem among undergraduate students.

Expressing Gratitude Wellbeing

Gratitude expression is uniquely important to psychological wellbeing and linked to enhanced positive emotions, resilience, better coping skills, and an improved ability to manage stress, and an increase in happiness (Sansone & Sansone, 2010. Wood, Joseph, & Maltby, 2009).

Happiness is subjective; the essence of what it means to be happy will almost certainly differ depending on who you ask. What is more absolute is that we all want to be happy regardless of what our own definitions may be.

Peterson, Park, and Seligman (2005) suggested the tendency to pursue happiness via the route of gratitude is a way to live ‘the good life’. This was compounded by Lashani, Shaeiri, Asghari-Moghadam, & Golzari, (2012) who concluded that gratitude can increase positive affectivity, happiness and optimism.

Physical health benefits

Gratitude expression correlates positively with self-reported physical health and, through the mediation of psychological health, increases healthy activities and willingness to seek help for health concerns (Hill, Allemand, & Roberts, 2013).

essays about gratitude

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These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to build daily gratitude habits, express more appreciation toward others, and experience more positive emotions in everyday life.

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When you think about expressing gratitude and thanks, how does it make you feel? Embarrassed? Awkward? You are not alone. For some, expressing gratitude does not come easily, even to those people who mean the most to us.  Whether it’s a friend, teacher, or parent, the positive impact a little bit of gratitude can have is immense for both parties.

It is often the simplest of gestures that speak volumes in showing your gratitude. We all have people in our lives who inspire us and generally just make life better by being in it; here we will look at ways to express gratitude to those who should really hear it.

1. Say the words!

Words are powerful and the simplest, most direct, way to express gratitude to the people we may take for granted. Given proximity, a verbal expression of your appreciation in person is effective – if you can’t do it in person, make the phone call and brighten somebody’s day.

2. Write a gratitude letter or note

Spend some time thinking about what you appreciate most about your friends, teacher, or parents and draft a letter by hand, expressing your sentiments. While recognizing your gratitude is important – just writing it down is enough to make you feel warm inside – actually reading the letter out loud is worth so much more.

Maybe jumping in with a full gratitude letter is too big a first step for you to make, that’s OK! Why not try a thank you note in a thoughtfully selected or handmade card? While writing thank you notes is a bit of a lost art; it takes almost no time at all but is a sincere expression of gratitude.

3. Show gratitude through creative expression

We can’t all be talented artists, but it really is the thought and effort put in that counts. Often homemade gifts mean the most, a little bit of creativity goes a long way.

4. Give a gratitude gift

When choosing a gift aimed specifically at expressing gratitude, opt for meaningful over monetary value. Gratitude in itself is a gift but giving a thoughtful, personal gift that can be kept, displayed and treasured is something really special.

5. Express your appreciation face to face with a gratitude visit

While expressing gratitude in person might be a big step for some, the gesture of going out of your way to tell someone how much you appreciate them is enough for everyone to feel the benefits. If you can’t make the visit in person, send a personalized video message.

6. Ask how they are (and listen to their response!)

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed; the simple act of actively listening to your loved ones can be an effective way to show you value them. Put down your phone, remain attentive and let them steer the conversation.

7. Make a gratitude scrapbook

If you are thinking of how to show appreciation for a teacher, try making your own scrapbook or even better, ask your entire class to get involved, each student can add a page of gratitude then put it all together in a book. Make one for your friend or parents and fill it with photographs of special moments over the years.

Friend, teachers and parents are probably the people we’re most grateful for but show least gratitude towards. Expressing gratitude is personal to you – you know the person best, think about what would have the most value to them.

Gifts Gratitude

Gift-giving can be viewed as a reciprocal practice, whereby responding with gratitude after receiving some ‘benefit’ is a moral obligation (Watkins, Scheer, Ovnicek, & Kolts, 2006).

However, we shouldn’t think of it as a ‘debt of gratitude’, rather as a meaningful way to cultivate social support, which is beneficial for both individuals and society as a whole.

A gratitude gift might be something of material value but it does not need to be, a thoughtful and personal show of gratitude can be worth its weight in gold.

Here we will look at some ideas for gratitude gifts that will beautifully express just how thankful you are.

A gift that can be kept and treasured will always remind them of the positive emotions they experienced when it was received.

Handmade gifts:

  • Frame a picture – find a meaningful photograph that evokes positive memories for you and more importantly the person who is the focus of your gratitude.
  • Gift a packet of seeds, flowers from your garden, or a plant and every time they tend to them they will remember you for this simple act of gratitude – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show someone how much you appreciate them.
  • Bring over lunch – preparing meals, especially if you’re stressed and overworked, can be a chore. Don’t you know someone who’d be delighted if you’d surprise them with a tasty lunch?
  • A journal – a journal can be a beautiful gift, the recipient can either fill it with their own feeling of gratitude and continue the gratitude cycle or as a normal journal for their thoughts and musings. Each time they pick it up they will know that you are grateful to have them in your life.
  • A little jar full of thanks – fill jar with gratitude notes and that special person can read one a day (or whenever they feel like they need a boost) – imagine starting each day knowing you are appreciated.
  • A gift of encouragement – maybe the object of your appreciation has started a new hobby or enjoys painting, why not gift them that brush they’ve had their eye on or another related item that they’ll really appreciate.
  • A playlist of their favorite songs or music that means something to both of you and evokes the very best memories you have together.
  • 52 gratitude cards – this one might take some time and effort, but it really is the gift that keeps giving – even when you aren’t there in person. They can open up a card each week for an entire year!

Gifts to buy:

  • Gift a book – if that person is an avid reader, buy a copy of their favorite book, you can take this a step further and write a note of appreciation on one of the pages, or tuck your gratitude letter between the pages. (See this list of best gratitude books for ideas!)
  • Find out their favorite restaurant or place to shop and get them a gift card to indulge.
  • Give them tickets to see the latest movie , their favorite sports team, or a ballet/opera/musical.
  • A scented candle with their favorite fragrance, whether it’s a neighbor, a coworker, a friend or loved one who could use a lift, this is a wonderful way to show your gratitude for all this person means to you.
  • A board game or jigsaw you can complete/play together – knowing that you want to spend time with them is a great way to make someone feel appreciated.

People who cultivate and consciously participate in gratitude are more patient, make better decisions, develop better relationships and generally feel more positive and optimistic about their lives than those who do not (Emmons & Stern, 2013).

If you are thinking about ways you can gain more enjoyment from life, a good starting point to propel you into a grateful way of life is a 21 day gratitude challenge (or longer if you so choose!).

The gratitude challenge helps cultivate gratitude by encouraging us to actively seek out all the things that are good in life and practice the expression of appreciation.

A Meaningful Challenge For You

There are countless versions of the gratitude challenge, meaning there is something to suit everyone – some are more structured, giving you specific exercises to follow each day , others are far less so. While each version is different from the next, they all share the same idea; every day for three weeks, focus on the things or people you are grateful to have in your life, and then express your gratitude for them.

If the idea of practicing gratitude is completely new to you, a more structured challenge can help you to negotiate the initial uncertain stage and prompt you to start really paying attention to the world around you. The gratitude challenge helps cultivate a state of mindfulness and appreciation for the simple things and to recognize the positive aspects of even the most difficult and challenging situations.

Your challenge could include gratitude meditation and yoga, both have been found to promote a tendency towards gratitude as a quality of mindfulness and have been found to produce elevated experiences of love and thankfulness (Shapiro, Schwartz, & Santerre, 2002).

Taking It Further

Why stop at 21 days? Once you have experienced the positive emotions that go hand in hand with the challenge don’t be surprised if you want to continue long after the 3 weeks are up.

The ultimate goal of the gratitude challenge is to make people happier and to gain more enjoyment from life by consciously developing gratitude. Really, there is no right or wrong way to take part in a gratitude challenge, simply begin and discover what comes naturally to you.

We are all guilty of letting the stresses of daily life get in the way of recognizing and expressing gratitude, we often forget to stop and think about the things we are most grateful for. While the journey to gratefulness may not happen overnight, these tips will help focus your attention on setting your own personal gratitude challenge.

  • The first moments of the day are often when we feel most focused before the tasks of the day take their toll. Try introducing a morning gratitude ritual that allows you to start the day grounded in gratitude. This could be as simple as taking a few moments to focus on the positive, ask yourself, ‘what am I grateful for today?’
  • Appreciate the small things; it’s not just about the big stuff. Write a list that is unique to you and where you are in your life right now. This can include family, friends, health, your community – even the weather!
  • Develop your own mindfulness session and practice ‘being in the moment’, focus your attention on the ways that life is good right now rather than thinking too much about the future. The trick is to picture it in your mind and immerse yourself in the feeling of gratitude.
  • Appreciate the good and the bad – while much of the gratitude challenge is about positive experiences, thinking about difficult situations can really help you to appreciate the good.
  • Have a daily recap – spend some time writing down the things you are grateful for before going to bed. Writing down all those thoughts is a good way to keep track of the positives in your life and you can look back on them at any time.
  • Download an app – there are multiple gratitude challenge apps available that help focus your attention, record your appreciation and send friendly reminders to encourage your gratitude development.
  • Use a gratitude challenge calendar – many of these have daily prompts to help focus your mind on all the things you might not even consider.

How often do we thank our parents for everything they’ve done for us? It can be easy to take the guidance, support and love of parents for granted. Why not take the time to brainstorm the things you are grateful for and why you value them so much, then put pen to paper.

To help you get started, here are some letter of gratitude ideas for thanking parents.

  • Remember specifics – recalling a specific memory that fills you with appreciation is much more effective than a general ‘Thank You’. Think of the little things, from teaching you to tie your laces to reading bedtime stories – the fact that you remember these small moments will mean so much.
  • Include inspirational quotes that reflect your feelings of gratitude.
  • Think of some prompts to help guide your writing, like ‘I always remember when you…’, ‘I am so thankful for…’ and ‘I am inspired by your…’
  • Think of the life lessons they’ve taught you – how have these impacted you?
  • Thanking your parents for their time – did your parents drive you to practice every weekend? Or stand at the sidelines cheering you on? Tell them how much it meant and still means to you.
  • The way they make you feel, both now and as a child, it may seem obvious but relaying just how special your parents make you feel is something they have likely never heard before.
  • Finish off by reiterating just how grateful you are.

The important thing is to be sincere and make it personal, only you know what your parents will value hearing the most.

An experiment in gratitude – Participant

In today’s modern world, technology allows us to take our expressions of gratitude to the global stage by way of email or even social media posts. These avenues may be preferred if you aren’t sure when you will see the individual or if you wish to express gratitude to a group, wherein writing individual letters or emails may not be a practical or timely approach.

It’s tempting to ramble on when writing an email, especially when the subject matter may prompt some self-consciousness – we have a tendency to dance around the subject of import. A gratitude email doesn’t need to be long, focus on succinct sincerity and always proofread before hitting ‘send’ as typos can diminish the sentiment behind the gesture.

The sample below is just to give you an example of a short gratitude email – every situation will vary. Remember to be specific and avoid generalized statements, ‘Thanks for all your help putting together the [Client name] project’ , is better than ‘Thanks for all your help’ .

Include how their actions helped you, or in the case of a workplace, how their actions impacted positively on a business deliverable.

Subject: Thank you! Dear Tommy I just wanted to write you a quick email to say thank you very much for all your help putting together last week’s client proposal I really appreciate the hard work you put into getting the graphics just right and the clients seemed equally impressed when we pitched this morning. Keep up the great work and I look forward to working closely with you on future projects. Many thanks, John

You may choose to opt for a social media post if want to express gratitude to a large group. Connecting via social media removes any geographical restrictions while also allowing you to address a wider audience. The private message function found on most social media platforms also provides an avenue to connect directly if you’d rather not post publicly.

If it’s a friend, remember to drop the formality you may feel compelled to include in workplace expressions.

The examples below can be used to get you thinking about how to express gratitude on social media either directly or via a public post.

Direct message: You’re the best! Thanks so much for giving me a lift yesterday; I don’t know what I’d have done without you! Post: So thankful to all my wonderful friends who helped me moving house. I really couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Social media also represents a novel arena in which to record daily gratitude posts. Remember, the expression itself will promote subjective wellbeing; your expressions need not be individual or even group-directed.

An example could be ‘Today I’m grateful for caffeine, bringer of life, and for my parents who looked after the kids last night so I could get a decent night’s sleep!’

You can even include a prompt such as ‘Let me know what you’re grateful for’ to encourage those that see your post to engage with it positively – every time you get a notification of a like or comment you’re revisiting and reinforcing the positivity that expressing gratitude yields.

Related:  The 34 Best TED Talks And Videos on The Power of Gratitude

The following links can help you access stories about gratitude… enjoy.

  • In this story on, Homayun relays how reading John Krilak’s book called ‘A Simple Act of Gratitude’ helped him to cope with his life following the sudden death of his father. The book inspired him to think about the people he should thank, and subsequently, he wrote thank-you notes to these people.
  • This website gives some background information about gratitude, which is interesting. It also contains links to three stories about gratitude – Aesop’s “ Androcles and the Lion ”, a folktale from Japan called “ The Grateful Crane” and “ King Midas and the Golden Touch”.
  • This article , appearing in the Reader’s Digest, is an inspiring story about a teacher’s experience of setting her class a task in which they reflected upon what they had to be thankful for.
  • This is essentially a children’s story, however reading “ An Octopus in Trouble ” is a heart-warming way to capture the power of gratitude in just a few minutes.

In an ideal world the things we are most grateful for would always be at the front of our minds, unfortunately that isn’t always the case. But all is not lost! Sometimes all we need are some gentle reminders to guide our thoughts in the right direction.

If this sounds like you, the following inspiring reflections for gratitude will help focus your attention on your own feelings and encourage you to think about some of the insights others have had on the concept.

Inspiring Reflections On Gratitude:

  • Think of a time when someone was kind to you, what emotions did you experience? Take 60 seconds to feel your gratitude.
  • Ask 3 other people what they are grateful for.
  • Take a walk and use the time to clear your mind, take some deep breaths and think about the things around you that make your feel grateful. What are you grateful for in nature?
  • What memory are you grateful for? Why are you grateful for that experience?
  • What challenge in your life are you grateful for?
  • What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?
  • Take a moment to consider the people around you, what makes you feel grateful to have them in your life?
  • Think about why you want to experience and express gratitude, what benefits mean the most to you?
  • Think about how expressing more gratitude has positively impacted you.

Inspiring quotes on gratitude:

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

David Steindl-Rast

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

Robert Brault

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Albert Schweitzer

Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”

Henri Frederic Amiel

The expression of gratitude is an exercise in positive psychology and like all exercises, repetition and practice make perfect. Ingratitude is the “essence of vileness,” wrote the philosopher Immanuel Kant while David Hume opined that ingratitude is:

“the most horrible and unnatural crime that a person is capable of committing.”

By exercising methods of expressing everyday gratitude you not only reap the rewards in terms of promoting a positive mental state while reducing negativity, but also get into the habit of focusing on the positive – in time it can become second nature.

The following are five simple ways that we can embed the expression of gratitude into our daily routines:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Amid the humdrum and bustle of modern life, it’s easy to forget the small acts of kindness we receive. By mentally revisiting and recording these events, we reinforce the positive impact and can revisit it to remind ourselves of how much we have to be thankful for and, in turn, find expressing gratitude a more natural response.
  • Remember to express your gratitude in person. This may seem an obvious one but it’s easy to forget to verbalize or otherwise show your appreciation to friends, colleagues or clients in the day-to-day. Expressions don’t have to be extravagant, simply stopping for a moment to let someone know you are grateful helps foster an environment of gratitude and is another simple way to get into the habit of expressing everyday gratitude.
  • Be respectful and treat others with the level of courtesy you would like to receive. As children we’re taught to treat those around us how we would like to be treated. This mantra can serve you well in your day to day expressions of gratitude. While we can express gratitude through directly telling someone we are thankful, how we conduct ourselves and our actions provide another avenue for the expression of gratitude.
  • Remember to smile, be patient, listen and express kindness whenever possible. Next time you’re heading on the coffee run, offer to bring back drinks for your colleagues – this lets them know you value them and chances are next time they’re on the coffee dash they’ll return the favor and you can be on the receiving end of some gratitude.
  • Try not to complain. We have a tendency to focus on the negative; we’re evolutionarily hardwired to focus on the events which yielded negative outcomes so we can avoid them in future (Seligman, 2012). Every time we complain we’re reinforcing a negative state of mind, making it more difficult to feel and express gratitude. Remember some things are out with your control and focus on something positive instead.

Gratitude is one of the primary elements of positive psychology… and for a very good reason.

Research has shown time and time again that gratitude, or even just saying ‘thank you,’ has several mental and physical benefits (Wong & Brown, 2017).

Specifically, showing gratitude allows individuals to strengthen social ties, experience an increase in self-worth, block toxic emotions (Froh et al. 2010), and be seen as kind and helpful by others (Bartlett & DeSteno, 2006). Contrary to popular belief, practicing gratitude does not just entail one simple step of saying thank you.

Practicing genuine gratitude consists of:

1. Noticing the things you are grateful for 2. Thinking about why you are grateful for this and why this happened to you 3. Feeling all the emotions that come with experiencing gratitude 4. Doing something in return to make someone else feel grateful

Notably, experiencing gratitude does not just stem from another person simply doing something nice for you. You can also practice gratitude about your different life circumstances, for example, being grateful for your opportunity to get an education.

The next time you practice gratitude, make sure you are paying attention to each of these four components.

essays about gratitude

The workplace can be a significant source of negative emotions which in turn can lead to stress, malaise and general dissatisfaction (Ganster & Schaubroeck, 1991). While your work activities may be constrained to the ‘four walls’ of your work environment, your emotional state is unbounded by the physical. You can leave your work at work, but your emotions persist regardless of your spatial placement.

Fostering a positive emotional environment doesn’t have to blow the departmental budget, one simplistic gratitude technique gaining in popularity is to display a gratitude bulletin board in the workplace. To set this up all you need is a physical board, a bit of wall-space and (depending on the type of board) pens, post-it notes or pins.

Getting Started

When setting up your gratitude board, remember to place it somewhere prominent to help achieve maximum visual impact.

Many people struggle expressing gratitude – especially in formal environments such as a place of work where professionalism may inhibit such expressions (Frohman, 2009) – so it’s a good idea to kick-start the process by adding as many gratification notices as you can, being as inclusive as possible, to encourage colleagues to follow suit.

How many times have you found yourself utterly drained and emotionally defeated on the homeward bound commute? Or been in your place of work, feeling under-appreciated and trying to muster the motivation to maintain cordiality and carry out your tasks?

By providing a medium through which to express gratitude, you and your colleagues can take the opportunity to post a note on the board to say what it is that you’re grateful for.

Gratitude Boards 2.0

What can you do if your team isn’t centralized? Perhaps your work takes you on the road for extended periods. Perhaps you are part of a virtual team (VT). Well, modern problems call for modern solutions. While it lacks the visual impact of a physical gratitude board, creating an additional ‘gratitude’ group chat with your colleagues can achieve a very similar outcome.

Work is a huge part of our lives! That’s why it’s as, if-not-more, important to try to promote a positive emotional environment for yourself and those around you. By applying techniques which encourage the expression of gratitude, everyone can feel appreciated and positive, turning the daily grind into the daily grin.

Gratitude Visits

The gratitude visit represents one of the most well researched and validated examples of the positive outcomes that gratitude can have yield for an individual’s wellbeing.

Thrust into the spotlight by one of the founding fathers of positive psychology and former president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Martin Seligman (2012), the gratitude visit combines both introspective reflection and the outward expression of gratitude in an exercise that will increase your happiness and reduce levels of depression in as little as a month.

Furthermore, studies show that for a full month after a gratitude visit, happiness levels tend to go up, while boredom and other negative feelings go down.

In fact, the gratitude visit is more effective than any other exercise in positive psychology (Tomasulo, 2011).

Simply put, the gratitude visit consists of writing and delivering a letter to a person whom you appreciate.

To start, take a moment to reflect on the positive impact others have had on your life. Focus on a time when perhaps you weren’t able to thank the individual properly or until now had let the good deed go unrecognized.

Your next task involves writing a letter of gratitude to the individual emphasizing how you recognize the positive impact that their actions had on you, how it helped you and how you still recall what they did.

Not to be remiss, give the individual a call and check if and when they would be available for a face-to-face visit. While an out-of-the-blue contact may raise questions, try not to get into specifics about why you would like to visit, the gratitude visit has the greatest oomph when it comes as a surprise to the recipient.

Next, the visit! While you may feel self-conscious, the positive psychological outcome for both yourself and the individual to whom you’re expressing gratitude will outweigh any temporary feelings of embarrassment.

Take your time and personally read the letter you’ve written – giving them the physical letter is a nice touch as it allows them to revisit the moment as an when they wish.

Findings by Seligman (2012) indicated that the positive outcomes of a gratitude visit are myriad and include; increasing our sense of wellbeing, enhancing our relationship with the gratitude recipient, helping us alter the way we think about past events – with a focus on the positive rather than negative, prompting an immediate sense of wellbeing and encouraging us to think about the future in a more positive manner.

Of course there are occasions when expressing gratitude is more of a focus than others, Christmas and Thanksgiving for example, are times of the of year that resonate with an abundance of messages relaying gratitude. Family, friends, and even complete strangers convey their appreciation towards one another, and while this collective expression of gratitude is heartwarming, why should it be confined to just a few times a year?

With this in mind let’s explore Gratitude Day, a day to encourage the celebration of gratitude for all things great and small, in a whole host of ways.

World Gratitude Day was first conceived in 1965; it was later adopted by the United Nations Meditation Group and has been celebrated by a growing number of people on the 21st September every year since.

How To Take Part

How you choose to celebrate World Gratitude Day is entirely up to you, and that’s part of the beauty. Simply taking some time to positively reflect on the people and things we are grateful for can impact us in a multitude of ways, most importantly by improving our wellbeing and making us happier people.

Whether you choose to take a moment to think about the blessings you are grateful for, or verbally express your gratitude to others, immersing yourself in the practice of gratitude helps you be aware of the positives in your life and encourages regular practice (Allen, 2018).

Living a grateful life takes time and practice, but with commitment and participating in days such as this, you can cultivate the attitude of gratitude into your daily life.

Put it in your diary! World Gratitude Day – Saturday 21st September, 2019.

essays about gratitude

17 Exercises To Nurture Gratitude & Appreciation

Empower others with more hope, satisfaction, and fulfilling relationships with these 17 Gratitude & Appreciation Exercises [PDF] that harness the powerful benefits of gratitude.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

After your taste of expressing gratitude on Gratitude Day, you may find Gratitude Month helps cement your gratitude practices. Running through the month of November, Gratitude Month is an exercise that encourages the daily practice of gratitude, encouraging the reciprocal cycle of appreciation.

Focusing on gratitude is a great way to spend a month and creates a habit of positive thinking – a means to help navigate the stresses and chaos of daily life.

During Gratitude Month, people are encouraged to journal their gratitude, participate in charity work, and give back to their community. At first you might struggle to think of what you are truly grateful for but that’s why it’s so important – through practice the act of gratitude becomes easier.

The important thing is to keep your mind focused on your feelings of gratitude, practice expressing your gratitude and in time you will develop a tendency towards a grateful life.

A Take-Home Message

Based on the advice we are given as children when learning to cross the road, Steindl-Rast (2013) offers practical advice for living gratefully, moment by moment.

  • STOP: We rush through life and miss opportunities because we don’t stop to recognize and act on them.
  • LOOK: We must use all our senses to enjoy the richness that life has given to us.
  • GO: We should do whatever life offers to us in that present moment. Sometimes that might be difficult, but we should go with it and do our best to enjoy every moment.

The positive impacts of expressing gratitude are long-lasting, grateful people and those who receive gratitude are likely to experience greater psychological, spiritual, and physical wellbeing.

If we fail to appreciate the things we take for granted and continue the search for more ‘stuff’ that might make us happy in the future, will that search ever really end?

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering more about how best to express gratitude and the benefits of doing so! Let us know in the comments how you express gratitude to the people in your life.

For further reading:

  • The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief 
  • The Gratitude Tree for Kids

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

  • Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J. & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8 (3), 425-429.
  • Allen, S. (2018, May). The science of gratitude. Retrieved from
  • Bartlett, M. Y., Condon, P., Cruz, J., Baumann, J., & Desteno, D. (2012). Gratitude: Prompting behaviours that build relationships. Cognition and Emotion, 26 (1), 2-13.
  • Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Science, 17(4) , 319-325.
  • Cullis, L. (2015, November 1). YJ Gratitude challenge: Build a simple daily practice. Yoga Journal . Retrieved from
  • Emmons, R. A. (2004). The psychology of gratitude (pp. 3-16) . New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.
  • Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a psychotherapeutic intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69 (8), 846-855.
  • Froh, J. J., Bono, G., & Emmons, R. (2010). Being grateful is beyond good manners: Gratitude and motivation to contribute to society among early adolescents.  Motivation and Emotion, 34 , 144-157.
  • Ganster, D. C., & Schaubroeck, J. (1991). Work stress and employee health. Journal of Management, 17 (2), 235-271.
  • Grant, A. M., & Gino, F. (2010). A little thanks goes a long way: Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98 (6), 946-955.
  • Hill, P. L., Allemand, M., & Roberts, B. W. (2013). Examining the pathways between gratitude and self-rated physical health across adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 54 (1), 92-96.
  • Kong, F., Ding, K., & Zhao, J. (2015). The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16 (2), 477-489.
  • Lambert, N. M., Clark, M. S., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude: Expressing gratitude to a partner changes one’s view of the relationship. Psychological Science, 21 (4), 574-580.
  • Peterson, C., Park, N. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Approaches to happiness: The full life versus the empty life. Unpublished manuscript.
  • Rowland, L., & Curry, O. S. (2019). A range of kindness activities boost happiness. The Journal of Social Psychology, 159 (3), 340-343.
  • Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well being: The benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 7 (11), 18-22.
  • Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G., & Santerre, C. (2002). Meditation and positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 632-645). London, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Steindl-Rast, D. (2013). Want to be happy? Be grateful. TED. Retrieved from
  • Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt, L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42 (2), 115-131.
  • Tomasulo, D. J. (2011). The Virtual Gratitude Visit (VGV): Psychodrama in action. Psychology Today . Retrieved from
  • Watkins, P., Scheer, J., Ovnicek, M., & Kolts, R. (2006). The debt of gratitude: Dissociating gratitude and indebtedness. Cognition & Emotion, 20 (2), 217-241.
  • Wong, J., & Brown, J. (2017, June 6). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Retrieved Feb 23, 2023, from
  • Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30 (7), 890-905.
  • Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the Big Five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 46 (4), 443-447.

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3 Gratitude Exercises Pack

Chelom E. Leavitt, J.D., Ph.D.

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives..

Posted November 12, 2023 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader

  • Find a therapist near me
  • Gratitude helps us function better and creates healing within our relationships—romantic and otherwise.
  • Gratitude helps people appreciate what they have instead of longing for the next new something.
  • Even when only the fringes of our present experiences are good, we can celebrate the small joys.

Have you been tempted to discount the adage to "count your blessings”? Recent research suggests that might be a mistake. People who count their blessings report being happier and less depressed . [i] Gratitude is often defined as a recognition of the goodness in your life and being aware of fortunate circumstances seems to make life a little better.

Despite this easy definition, gratitude is not simple. It’s rather complex. It can range from feelings of appreciation to a sense of benefit from being able to give and help others. Gratitude helps us as individuals feel and function better, [ii] but also creates a sense of connection and even healing within our relationships—romantic and otherwise. [iii]

Gratitude and Individual Well-Being

Gratitude is regularly and strongly connected with happiness . [iv] Grateful people feel more positive emotions, savor good experiences, report better health (better sleep, lower blood pressure, and fewer aches and pains), deal with adversity better (more optimism and positive emotion ) [v] , and report more joy and pleasure. [vi] It’s no wonder that gratitude is considered the best medicine, as it heals the body, mind, and soul.

Gratitude helps people appreciate what they have instead of longing for the next new something. Recognizing the present good in your life curbs the need to always strive for every physical and material need to be met. Gratitude helps us refocus on what is present in life and not what is lacking. French critic and novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) chided, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” [vii]

Rabbi Harold Kushner admonished, “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” [viii] Gratitude is not about what we get but the quality of how we live. Life-changing gratitude opens our awareness to all the goodness in our lives.

Gratitude and Relationships

Gratitude is a social emotion, and it is relational or interactive in nature. Gratitude strengthens relationships because it encourages support or affirmation by a loved one. One theory suggests that gratitude is so meaningful for relationships because it fuels an upward spiral of mutually responsive behaviors. [ix] In fact, therapists have attributed gratitude with creating a positive feedback loop. [x]

Gratitude does not ask that we ignore the hard parts of life. We acknowledge that life is difficult and not necessarily what we want. However, even when only the fringes of our present experiences are good, we can celebrate the small joys. [xi] Because gratitude helps create connection even in the context of lack or scarcity, it increases feelings of abundance when feelings of want could rob joy.

Research shows that gratitude is one way partners can slow down and be more mindful and present in a relationship, which benefits not only the romantic relationship but the sexual relationship as well. [xii]

A person who sees life through “gratitude glasses” can acknowledge a partner’s efforts despite a disagreement. Grateful people enhance the positive emotion within relationships and minimize the toxic negative emotion. Because gratitude creates more stress resistance and nurtures a higher sense of self-worth , individuals who are consistently grateful create positive environments within their relationships.

Grateful individuals see a network of relationships and recognize how these connections contribute to a meaningful life. Having others who look out for your success, peace, and well-being dispels feelings of loneliness and encourages a sense of belonging.

The world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, explains, “Gratitude is a power. Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.” [xiii] Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness and an attribution of the source of goodness. We see an outside source and feel a humble dependence that we have been provided for by someone else.

essays about gratitude

Gratitude as Giving

Kristen Armstrong said, “When we focus on gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out, and the tide of love rushes in.” Sometimes this tide of love encourages us to seek out ways to help others—serve, donate, lift, or comfort. We feel good spending our time or resources to help the next guy down the line. “Pay it forward,” some might say. Again, finding joy in giving, lifting, or inspiring creates a positive feedback loop, which means we feel good when we give and then we desire to give more freely.

Gratitude is thought to be the mother of all virtues. [xiv] Gratitude fosters love, compassion, and mercy, to name a few. Gratitude, like mercy, benefits both the giver and the receiver.

Shakespeare said of mercy:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Think you don’t have time to practice gratitude? Think again. It’s a quality of being. Gratitude requires a short mental pause to consider external goodness that benefits us—for example, people, nature, or God. Gratitude is free and has no negative side effects and any dosage begins the process of healing and happiness. We can boost our levels of gratitude and help gratitude grow stronger with use and practice. Turning toward gratitude takes no more time than grumbling about something and changes the trajectory of your moods and behaviors and even your relationships with others. This season of giving thanks may be the perfect time to develop a little more gratitude.

[i] Wong, Y. J., Owen, J., Gabana, N. T., Brown, J. W., McInnis, S., Toth, P., & Gilman, L. (2018). Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Psychotherapy Research , 28 (2), 192-202.

[ii] Jans-Beken, L., Jacobs, N., Janssens, M., Peeters, S., Reijnders, J., Lechner, L., & Lataster, J. (2020). Gratitude and health: An updated review. The Journal of Positive Psychology , 15 (6), 743-782.

[iii] Bartlett, M. Y., Condon, P., Cruz, J., Baumann, J., & Desteno, D. (2012). Gratitude: Prompting behaviours that build relationships. Cognition & Emotion , 26 (1), 2-13.

[iv] Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

[v] Cregg, D. R., & Cheavens, J. S. (2021). Gratitude interventions: Effective self-help? A meta-analysis of the impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Journal of Happiness Studies , 22 , 413-445.

[vi] Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.



[ix] Algoe, S. B. (2012). Find, remind, and bind: The functions of gratitude in everyday relationships. Social and personality psychology compass , 6 (6), 455-469.

[x] Alkozei, A., Smith, R., & Killgore, W. D. (2018). Gratitude and subjective wellbeing: A proposal of two causal frameworks. Journal of Happiness Studies , 19 , 1519-1542.

[xi] Nezlek, J. B., Krejtz, I., Rusanowska, M., & Holas, P. (2019). Within-person relationships among daily gratitude, well-being, stress, and positive experiences. Journal of Happiness Studies , 20 , 883-898.

[xii] Eyring, J. B., Leavitt, C. E., Allsop, D. B., & Clancy, T. J. (2021). Forgiveness and gratitude: Links between couples’ mindfulness and sexual and relational satisfaction in new cisgender heterosexual marriages. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy , 47 (2), 147-161.

[xiii] [xiv] Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chelom E. Leavitt, J.D., Ph.D.

Chelom E. Leavitt, J.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University.

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Akebono, First Foreign-Born Sumo Grand Champion, Dies at 54

Born in Hawaii, he moved to Japan in 1988 and won 11 grand championships. His success drove a resurgence in the sport’s popularity.

A sumo wrestler leans to his right while standing on one leg.

By Victoria Kim ,  Hisako Ueno and Yan Zhuang

Taro Akebono, a Hawaii-born sumo wrestler who became the sport’s first foreign grand champion and helped to fuel a resurgence in the sport’s popularity in the 1990s, has died in Tokyo. He was 54.

He died of heart failure in early April while receiving care at a Tokyo hospital, according to a statement from his family that was distributed by the United States military in Japan on Thursday.

When he became Japan’s 64th yokozuna, or grand champion sumo wrestler, in 1993, he was the first foreign-born wrestler to achieve the sport’s highest title in its 300-year modern history. He went on to win a total of 11 grand championships, and his success set the stage for an era during which foreign-born wrestlers dominated the top levels of Japan’s national sport .

Akebono, who was 6-foot-8 and 466 pounds when he was first named yokozuna at 23, towered over his Japanese opponents. Painfully shy outside the dohyo, as the sumo ring is known, he was known for using his height and reach to keep opponents at a distance.

Akebono’s rivalry with the Japanese brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana, both grand champions, was a major driver of sumo’s renewed popularity in the 1990s. During the opening ceremony for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Akebono demonstrated the sumo ring entrance ritual for an international audience, commanding the arena with his hulking physique and captivating stare.

Taro Akebono was born Chad George Ha’aheo Rowan in Waimanalo, Hawaii, in 1969. He played basketball in high school and briefly at Hawaii Pacific University before moving to Japan in 1988 at the invitation of a fellow Hawaiian wrestler who had become a trainer.

Knowing nothing about Japan and speaking almost no Japanese, the teenager began living and training at a sumo stable governed by strict hierarchy, cooking and cleaning for more experienced wrestlers. Soon he was charting a meteoric rise through the sport’s ranks, dominating with his size.

“We were just brute strength,” he said in a later interview , referring to himself and fellow wrestlers from Hawaii in the 1990s. “We won fast or we lost fast. We weren’t too technical.”

In 1992, the Yokozuna Promotion Council, which decides which wrestlers are worthy of sumo’s top honor, denied it to another Hawaiian, saying no foreigner could possess the dignity befitting the title. The decision prompted allegations of racism and raised questions about the council’s selection process. Only a handful of wrestlers hold the title at the same time, and they are selected through a vote from candidates who have won two consecutive tournaments.

A year later, just five years after arriving in Japan and joining the sport, Akebono broke through that barrier.

He later said in interviews that he rarely considered his nationality in the ring, thinking of himself as a sumo wrestler first and foremost. He became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1996, and changed his name to Taro Akebono. His chosen sumo name, “Akebono,” means dawn in Japanese.

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m an American, I’m going to go out there, plant my flag in the middle of the ring and take on the Japanese,’” he told The New York Times in 2013.

He gained acceptance and popularity in the sumo world in part because people in Japan appreciated his devotion to the sport, even though in his early competitions, cheers from the crowd were far louder for his Japanese-born rivals.

“He makes me forget he is a foreigner because of his earnest attitude toward sumo,” Yoshihisa Shimoie, editor of Sumo magazine, said in 1993 . By the early 2000s, dozens of the ranked wrestlers were foreign , including Mongolians, a Georgian and an Argentine.

Akebono is survived by his wife, Christine Rowan, daughter Caitlyn, 25, and sons Cody, 23, and Connor, 20, according to the family.

In 2001, he retired from the sport at 31, citing chronic knee problems. He went on to train younger wrestlers, and also competed in kickboxing, professional wrestling and mixed martial arts.

“I am retiring with a feeling of great gratitude for being given the chance to become a yokozuna and experience something open to only very few people,” he said at the time of his retirement.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting.

Victoria Kim is a reporter based in Seoul and focuses on breaking news coverage across the world. More about Victoria Kim

Hisako Ueno has been reporting on Japanese politics, business, gender, labor and culture for The Times since 2012. She previously worked for the Tokyo bureau of The Los Angeles Times from 1999 to 2009. More about Hisako Ueno

Yan Zhuang is a Times reporter in Seoul who covers breaking news. More about Yan Zhuang

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Six new studies that can help you rediscover gratitude, this november, here is some new research that might help you practice gratitude and feel happier in life..

While society at large turns its interest to gratitude in November, National Gratitude Month, some researchers spend their whole years—and careers—studying what gratitude means, its benefits, and how to practice it.

Here at Greater Good , we’ve reported on new research suggesting that gratitude at work can reduce your stress and help your team feel heard , and that gratitude journaling was a helpful tool for people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there were a few more gratitude studies published this year that we think you’ll be interested in—studies that can help you figure out the best way to express your gratitude, navigate culture differences around saying thank you, and find the motivation to start your own gratitude practice.

essays about gratitude

Here are six more insights that researchers have learned from studying gratitude in 2022. 

1. A gratitude letter might be better than a gratitude journal…

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, aimed to figure out the best way to practice gratitude if you want to be happier in life.

To find out, they recruited 958 Australian adults to try out different practices daily for a week: writing a gratitude letter to someone (but not sending it), writing a gratitude essay about some thing they were thankful for (not a person), writing lists of people or things they were grateful for, or simply keeping track of their daily activities.

Before, after, and one week later, the participants filled out surveys measuring their life satisfaction, and positive and negative emotions.

Among all those practices, writing a gratitude letter to someone appeared to be the most beneficial. When compared to the people who only kept track of daily activities, those who wrote gratitude letters felt more gratitude, positive emotions, elevation , and connectedness.

More broadly, the longer writing activities—letters and essays—seemed to be more beneficial than shorter lists (the typical gratitude journal practice).

There’s one caveat: Gratitude letters made people feel a greater sense of indebtedness compared to all the other gratitude practices. The benefits were also small and short-lived, the researchers found, suggesting that we should practice gratitude regularly if we want to keep getting something out of it.

This study might inspire you to write a gratitude letter…but could there be an even better practice?

2. …but there’s no “best” way to practice gratitude

The same researchers published a second study this fall that compared gratitude letters to two other practices—practices that involved expressing gratitude directly to others rather than simply reflecting on it in solitude.

They recruited over 900 undergraduate students, mostly Asian and Latino, to try out writing gratitude letters (again, not sending them), sending a thank-you text, or expressing gratitude publicly in a social media post or tweet.

The participants tried their practice four times, expressing gratitude for four different people. Before and after the experiment, they reported on their emotions, satisfaction with life, and feelings of connectedness and support.

essays about gratitude

Gratitude Letter

Write a letter expressing thanks, and deliver it in person

Contrary to expectations, the gratitude activities all seemed to have similar benefits, when compared to a simple non-gratitude activity. No matter how they expressed gratitude, people tended to feel greater positive emotions, satisfaction with life, elevation, connectedness, and support, as well as less loneliness.

Texting a thank-you did have a slight edge, though. Compared to writing a private letter or broadcasting a public post, it made people feel even more connected and supported.

These two studies build on an earlier experiment that compared expressing gratitude via text, on video chat, or in person—and also found that the medium didn’t really matter (though people felt slightly more connected and happy saying thanks on video or in real life).

Overall, it seems like we shouldn’t fret about the “best” way to say thank you. What’s much more important is that we reflect on our gratitude in the first place—and, if possible, share that thanks to create a positive connection with others.

3. We start appreciating gratitude in others as young as age four

When do kids start to notice and understand other people’s expressions of gratitude?

Researchers recently explored this question with 40 (mostly white) preschoolers who watched different videos of a gift-giver and a gift-receiver. In some videos, the gift-receiver was grateful: Although they didn’t specifically say “thank you,” they showed their gratitude by saying that the gift-giver was nice and a good friend. In other videos, the gift-receiver was happy but didn’t show gratitude in these ways.

Next, the researchers asked the children questions comparing the two gift-receivers.

The results? The five year olds thought that the gift-giver liked the grateful person more than the happy person, and they also thought the grateful gift-receiver would be more likely to give a gift in return. When asked to give away flowers, the five year olds also wanted to be more generous to the grateful person. Four year olds responded in a similar way, but just not as consistently.

These findings suggest that even young preschoolers interpret expressions of gratitude as important indicators of social information. “This understanding increasingly allows children to evaluate the reliability and trustworthiness of potential cooperative partnerships,” explain researchers Amrisha Vaish and Shannon Savell. In other words, gratitude helps even young children distinguish between people who are caring and worthy of getting to know better, and people who are selfish whom they might want to avoid.

4. A gratitude app can help you ruminate less

When we were locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, our well-being took a hit, as we suffered from worry, stress, and isolation. But researchers from the Netherlands and Belgium found that using a gratitude app could help people cope better under stress.

In the experiment, hundreds of European adults first reported how stressed, anxious, and depressed they were, as well as their tendency to be grateful, ruminate, or reframe negative experiences in positive ways. Then, half the adults used a gratitude app for six weeks, while others waited to use it. The app featured writing assignments focused on things like appreciating the good things in life, expressing gratitude toward others, and finding the positive in adversity. People were encouraged to write 10-15 minutes per day for five days of the week.

essays about gratitude

Gratitude Journal

Count your blessings and enjoy better health and happiness

Afterward, researchers re-measured the participants’ well-being and found that those who’d used the gratitude app were less depressed, anxious, and stressed at week six than those on the waitlist. Their greater well-being, which lasted until week 12, was tied to less rumination, more positive reframing, and more gratitude.

As the researchers conclude, “Practicing gratitude using a mobile application has potential to make a significant impact on the mental health of the general population, even during the difficult times of a pandemic.”

5. Gratitude can protect you from regret

According to one study, regret is the emotion we experience the most frequently —after love. So how do we deal with feelings of regret?

An October study found that practicing gratitude may help.

In one experiment, Chinese participants imagined a friend supporting them with their difficulties in life and how grateful they would feel toward this person, while others just thought about their recent life experiences. Then, everyone imagined making a decision that would typically induce regret: a poor investment, or choosing the wrong hotel for a trip.

Ultimately, the participants who had reflected on a gratitude experience felt less regret about their mistaken decisions.

essays about gratitude

Gratitude Meditation

Feel grateful as you reflect on all the gifts in your life

In other experiments, the researchers uncovered the reason why gratitude seemed to protect people from regret: It keeps our minds from dwelling on the past. In general, they found, grateful people tend to focus less on the past. And if you guide a grateful person to mull over past mistakes, they are no longer protected from regret.

“Gratitude has been reported to make people think less about the negative past and cherish what they have here and now, which helps to reduce regret,” write the Beijing-based researchers. Gratitude orients us to the present, which is why it may help protect against future-oriented emotions like anxiety , too.

Of course, regret isn’t all bad—it can inspire us to grow and make better decisions in the future . But perhaps gratitude can help us avoid getting stuck in endless, pointless regret and allow us to move forward in life.

6. Should you say thanks or apologize?

Because much research on gratitude has focused on Western cultures, it may represent a biased view of what gratitude looks like and how it’s practiced. For example, past studies have found that South Koreans are more likely than Americans to apologize when asking for a favor—and more likely to grant favors when they include apologies, like “I’m sorry to bother you”—whereas Americans prefer to use a thank-you in this context. Situations that call for gratitude in one culture may not call for gratitude in another.

Complicating these findings, though, a 2022 study found that thank-yous may be more effective than apologies in certain circumstances in Japan, even though Japanese people also frequently use apologies when asking for favors.

Japanese college students read an email (hypothetically, from a friend) asking them to provide feedback on an essay. After the students gave their feedback, their “friend” offered one of four responses before requesting feedback on a second essay: a thank you, an apology for bothering them, both, or neither.

The students were most likely to offer additional help—and say they would trust the friend with a secret—when the friend gave thanks only.

Does that mean that a simple “thank you” is the best way to connect with the people in your life who are helping you, no matter their cultural background? Much more research across different cultures needs to be done to answer this question. For now, the message might be that expressing gratitude makes a difference in our relationships, but we should be thoughtful about when and how we do it.

About the Authors

Kira M. Newman

Kira M. Newman

Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good . Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post , Mindful magazine, Social Media Monthly , and, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude Project . Follow her on Twitter!

Hannah J. Villareal

Hannah J. Villareal

Hannah J. Villareal (they/them) is a writer and research assistant at Greater Good specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to writing pieces for Greater Good magazine, they work to improve the inclusivity and cultural sensitivity of the practices on Greater Good in Action. They have been working with Greater Good since their undergraduate days at the University of California, Berkeley, where they majored in psychology and minored in gender and women’s studies.

Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D. , is Greater Good ’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good .

Maryam Abdullah

Maryam Abdullah

Uc berkeley.

Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., is the Parenting Program Director of the Greater Good Science Center. She is a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships and children’s development of prosocial behaviors.

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