You know that Thanksgiving tradition when someone says, "Let's go around the table and say what we're grateful for," and your mind just draws a total blank? You probably have tons of reasons to give thanks—your family, your friends or chosen family, your pets, your health—but suddenly, you're tongue-tied. You wouldn't be the first. (How many mega-famous people forget to thank at least one important person in their Oscars speech?)
One way to prevent this painfully-awkward moment? Practice gratitude on the reg.
And get this: Your body and brain will thank you for doing so. Expressing gratitude is linked to favorable psychological benefits such as "increased positive mood, a decrease in depressive symptoms, and—in some cases—decreased anxiety," says Stephen Yoshimura, PhD, a professor of communication studies at the University of Montana and gratitude researcher.
With all these positive effects, of course you want to show as much gratitude as possible. But, like most things in life, it's easier said than done. If you need a little inspiration, look no further than the words of wisdom shared by great thinkers. The following 82 gratitude quotes from philosophers, writers, and public figures will inspire you to be grateful every day of the year.
The Best Quotes for Practicing Gratitude
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." - Marcus Tullius Cicero
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy
"Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good." - Maya Angelou
"Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart." - Roy T. Bennett
"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet." - Thich Nhat Hanh
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." - Epicurus
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie
"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation." - Brian Tracy
"No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude." - Alfred North Whitehead
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses." - Alphonse Karr
"At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets." - Steve Maraboli
"You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance." - Kahill Gibran
"Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." - Voltaire
"I am happy because I'm grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy." - Will Arnett
"Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead." - C.S. Lewis
"The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings." - Henry Ward Beecher
"In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices." - Elizabeth Gilbert
"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." - Maya Angelou
"Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for." - Zig Ziglar
"Live a life full of humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity, and never stop learning." - Gza
"Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one's voice." - Joseph B. Wirthlin
"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." - Neal A. Maxwell
"There is strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the Sun will rise again tomorrow." - Aaron Lauritsen
"It's a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack." - Germany Kent
"'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding." - Alice Walker
"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness—it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude." - Brené Brown
"I think that real friendship always makes us feel such sweet gratitude, because the world almost always seems like a very hard desert, and the flowers that grow there seem to grow against such high odds." - Stephen King
"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." - Marcel Proust
"Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more?" - Roy T. Bennett
"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving." - W.T. Purkiser
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward
"Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I'd like to express my thanks—I've got the sun in the mornin' and the moon at night." - Irving Berlin
"The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive." - Thich Nhat Hanh
"The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It's not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It's encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you." - Carlos Barrios
"What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude." - Brené Brown
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." - Eckhart Tolle
"We learned about gratitude and humility - that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean... and we were taught to value everyone's contribution and treat everyone with respect." - Michelle Obama
"Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation." - John Ortberg
"Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality." - Jen Sincero
"Gratitude bestows reverence.....changing forever how we experience life and the world." - John Milton
"In every class of society, gratitude is the rarest of all human virtues." - Wilkie Collins
"Most of us forget to take time for wonder, praise and gratitude until it is almost too late. Gratitude is a many-colored quality, reaching in all directions." - Faith Baldwin
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder
"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude." - Elie Wiesel
"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." - Henry Ward Beecher
"Forget yesterday—it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow—you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift—today." - Steve Maraboli
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -Gilbert K. Chesterton
"Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts." - Henri Frederic Amiel
"Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind." - Lionel Hampton
"There's a certain love, appreciation, and gratitude that you have at 40 that you don't have when you're younger, and it makes every accomplishment feel so much better." - Jennifer Lopez
"Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you." - Eileen Caddy
"If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it." - Lyndon B. Johnson
"Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
"Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Have gratitude for the things you're discarding. By giving gratitude, you're giving closure to the relationship with that object, and by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to let go." - Marie Kondo
"Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy." - Jacques Maritan
"Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude." - Joseph Wood Krutch
"The debt of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward. What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children." - Nancy Friday
"We have to fill our hearts with gratitude. Gratitude makes everything that we have more than enough." - Susan L. Taylor
"I live by two words: tenacity and gratitude." - Henry Winkler
"Gratitude is not a limited resource, nor is it costly. It is abundant as air." - Marshall Goldsmith
"I've got nothing but gratitude for everyone who ever helped me." - Chris Mullin
"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful." - Joseph B. Wirthlin
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie
"When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." - Gilbert K. Chesterton
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
- William Arthur Ward
"The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy." - Henri Nouwen
"Let us swell with gratitude and allow it to overwhelm us. It isn't as cliche as we make it; life truly is short. Let's spend it all lavishly wallowing in gratitude." - Grace Gealey
"For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile." - Elie Wiesel
"I owe undying gratitude to my patient parents." - Konrad Lorenz
"It's wonderful to be grateful. To have that gratitude well out from deep within you and pour out in waves. Once you truly experience this, you will never want to give it up." - Srikumar Rao
"If you were to ask me to sum my life up in one word: Gratitude." - Carole King
"Make choices that bring love and joy to your body. It's not about perfection; it's about love and gratitude for an amazing body that works hard and deserves your respect." - Alysia Reiner
"I do practice active gratitude. In my thoughts, actions, words. I am deeply grateful for what life has given me." - Sharmila Tagore
"To find gratitude and generosity when you could reasonably find hurt and resentment will surprise you. It will be so surprising because you will see so much of the opposite: people who have much more than others yet who react with anger when one advantage is lost or with resentment when an added gift is denied."- Henry B. Eyring
"There is something calming and emotionally restoring when you focus on gratitude for a known deed that helped you, instead of fear of the unknown." - Mark Goulston
"If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough." - Meister Eckhart
"Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift." - Roy T. Bennett
"Find gratitude in the little things and your well of gratitude will never run dry." - Antonia Montoya
"I'm not going to focus on the bad days. I choose to live in gratitude." - Marcela Valladolid
"When I look back, I see that each difficult time brought an important lesson. And I prefer to look at it with gratitude because I wouldn't be who I am today if I haven't gone through it all." - Gisele Bündchen
"How I show love has always been through food. That, for me, has been the foundation of how I express gratitude for anybody around me." - Antoni Porowski
What are the benefits of gratitude?
In addition to the many psychological benefits, demonstrating gratitude has been linked to physical health, too, including: better quality of sleep, more exercise, and fewer symptoms of physical illness, according to a 2017 paper published in the National Communication Association's Review of Communication. Gratitude is associated with a higher inclination to exercise, and—in a few occasions—a decrease in blood pressure, says Yoshimura, one of the study authors.
What's more? Multiple studies show that expressing and experiencing gratitude increases life satisfaction, vitality, and hope, and decreases envy, and job-related stress as well as burnout, Yoshimura and his co-author, Kassandra Berzins, found.
Is repeating gratitude quotes helpful?
First and foremost, it's important to recognize that there's a difference between state gratitude and trait gratitude, says Yoshimura. Trait gratitude describes a disposition towards feeling grateful on a daily basis—a personality trait, one might say—while state gratitude relates to feeling grateful based on circumstance, he adds. And "some of the health benefits of expressing gratitude may arise from having more trait gratitude than state gratitude." But, luckily, if you're lacking in one area "both trait and state gratitude can be enhanced," Yoshimura explains.
While trait gratitude requires a bit (uh, a lot) more inner work and self-exploration than the positive effects of reading a one-off quote can offer, state gratitude levels can benefit from positive practices such as gratitude journaling and repeating gratitude quotes, per Yoshimura. "Through the process of making gratitude lists or writing gratitude letters, state levels of gratitude can be enhanced, both among people who are low and those who are high in trait gratitude." However, those who are low in state gratitude (i.e., experiencing negative mood states, going through a particularly distressing time in their life, etc.) will benefit the most from gratitude practices, per Yoshimura.
TL; DR: While reading gratitude quotes won't magically make you a more grateful person, they can help boost your mood temporarily if you're feeling down—or are looking for a sentiment to share on Instagram (er, the Thanksgiving table). In this case, reading gratitude quotes has a similar effect to "watching a funny movie, exercising, or spending time with somebody who you really enjoy being around," explains Yoshimura.
If you really want to be more grateful in the long-term, here's the gist: The strongest factor in practicing gratitude comes from feeling connected and grateful for other people in your life. "Those people bring us a certain level of comfort, meaningfulness, and purpose and make us feel like we matter in the world," says Yoshimura. "The more you practice feelings grateful for other people, the better you'll feel in the long term."
So if reading other people's words help you feel more gratitude towards your family, friends, and chosen family, then I'd say they're pretty darn helpful.
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