Why is Gratitude Important – The 15 Benefits to Know

May 23, 2023 by

This is a guide covering gratitude.

Gratitude is a neglected emotion because we doubt its potential based on its simplicity.

But as ostensibly plain and boring gratitude may seem, it is an extremely powerful way to uplift your mood, increase happiness, and it can act as an antidote for stress.

Besides, it is also true that when it comes to taking care of your mental health, you should consider making long-term changes to your lifestyle, a process that requires much patience and gratitude.

Further, it would be wrong to think of gratitude only as an emotion. Gratitude is not only a feeling; it is also a state, a trait, or a dispositional/character quality that distinguishes a person with gratitude.

But gratitude makes its importance clear either way. The benefits of gratitude can be felt and proven in any condition it may exist.

According to this research, a group of participants instructed to write a gratitude letter to whomever they felt grateful for something in their life showed an increase in their happiness and subjective well-being even 4 to 12 months after the intervention.

This means that the benefits that can be had from practicing gratitude can keep on paying dividends for longer.

But before diving into the importance of gratitude and the benefits that could result from practicing it daily, we need to first understand what gratitude is. How and why does it affect our mental health so positively?

gratitude example

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude means to feel appreciative and thankful for something positive that was done to us. Far from being indebtedness, as it is usually understood to be, it is a state of joyful willingness rather than compulsion.

Our gratefulness is a sign that we appreciate and give thanks for the other person’s kindness.

Gratitude is pure and not transactional like indebtedness. Although we do feel obliged to do something equally kind to our benefactor, the motivations behind our actions differ when we feel grateful.

Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on the science of gratitude, has identified gratitude as consisting of two distinct parts:

  1. One, we feel gratitude when we recognize that someone has done something good for us that we didn’t deserve in the first place.
  2. Two, the positivity of the feeling results from the fact that we place the source of the good outside of ourselves.

It is the second reason that places the importance of gratitude beyond just a feel-good exercise in mental health.

Gratitude promotes prosocial behavior and is responsible for not only establishing new relations but also playing a significant role in maintaining them.

As a dispositional trait, we feel gratitude as a pervasive sense of thankfulness for everything in life. Gratitude makes you think differently.

It makes you look at life with joy and as a place replete with opportunities. Thoughts of abundance are the fruits of gratitude.

Can You Practice Gratitude Deliberately?

So can you become a more grateful person? Or is it just something people are born with?

Thankfully, the deliberate practice of gratitude can equally be effective at bringing about its benefits.

Gratitude can reorient our thinking from toxicity and negativity to optimism and happiness.

If we feel stressed, we tend to narrow down the problems that can make us lose perspective. Gratitude does the opposite.

It opens up the world before us enabling us to take in the view from afar and gain perspective.

To be more grateful is, therefore, a matter of our thinking and something that is definitely within our control.

The fact that we are in control of our gratitude has been preached by world religions and moral philosophies for thousands of years.

thank someone each day
practicing gratitude

Why is Gratitude Important?

Feelings of lack, envy, or entitlement make us look at life with a lens that has lost its color capacity. Switching to the lens of gratitude will make us look at life as colorful, warm, and a fun place to be.

Gratitude has many physical, psychological, and social benefits that underscore the importance of gratitude in our lives.

Numerous studies have found a causal and recurring linkage between gratitude and happiness. It has especially been found to increase one’s sense of subjective well-being and reduce depressive symptoms.

The importance of gratitude is not limited to improving aspects of mental health alone.

Practicing gratitude in our everyday life can increase the quality of our relationships, deepen our connections at home and work, and produce lasting effects on our overall health.

savor time with family
practicing gratitude

The importance of gratitude on the societal level has been regarded as vital to maintaining healthy social relationships.

It has been proven that gratitude can lead to more socially inclusive behavior, and it can go on to play a pivotal role in forming and maintaining relations.

How Does Gratitude Change Your Life?

So how does gratitude produce such positive effects on our lives?

Our focus on constantly chasing material has made us nothing more than hedonistic apes. We seek to gratify our desires immediately.

The constant materialism stresses us out and our desires keep on increasing. Gratitude has the opposite effect.

It makes us focus on the present, and in doing so, we recognize that we have so much more that we had taken for granted.

It makes us happy not because it promises us all the things that we can have in the future, but because it makes us look upon the things and people we have in the present as equally precious.

Further, if we are constantly focused on the things that we lack, we will miss out on opportunities that are lying right under our noses.

To communicate, to love, to savor, to laugh, to dance, and to live are all the opportunities that are here in the present, which gratitude promises us only if we let it into our lives.

Another way gratitude works so well is that it puts the source of our happiness outside of us. Be they your friends, your family, or some higher power, placing the source of goodness outside of yourself makes you believe in a caring universe.

What are the Benefits of Gratitude?

As mentioned earlier, the benefits of gratitude extend into areas of social life, career, relationships, and general well-being. Gratitude can reduce stress and eliminate depressive feelings by boosting self-esteem.

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions holds that when we feel positive emotions, like gratitude, it can increase our cognitive abilities along with creativity.

Gratitude helps us deal with stress effectively, which can make us more resilient as a professional.

The importance of gratitude has also been noticed in a study that examined its effects on reducing symptoms or downright avoiding burnout.

We can all benefit from practicing gratitude each day.

practice gratitude everyday
practice gratitude consistently

You can check out this article for further information on how to incorporate a gratitude practice into your life.

15 Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

After we have looked at what gratitude is, the importance of gratitude, and what benefits of gratitude can we potentially see in our lives, let’s now look at those benefits in a bit more detail here.

1. Improves Immunity

According to positive psychology, the body, and mind are in constant communication. Therefore, the quality of our thoughts always has an imprint on our bodies.

According to one research, negative and toxic thinking can offset the body’s hormone balance and weaken the immune system as a result.

Alternatively, optimistic thinking fostered by positive emotions, like gratitude, can lead to better immunity.

2. Sleep

Gratitude has also been found to increase the quality and duration of sleep in one study on the relationship between gratitude and sleep.

Gratitude influences sleep qualitatively by putting our pre-sleep negative thinking patterns at rest.

3. Lowers Stress

Gratitude makes us less materialistic. By removing ourselves from the center of our thoughts, we give other people (benefactors) to be the center of our attention.

Selflessness leads to a lowering of stress.

lower stress
lower and eliminate stress

4. Alleviates Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Research has found that gratitude letter writing reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Although depression as a medical and mental health issue is a serious condition that needs to be treated with the help of proper psychological care, the researchers concluded that gratitude helps in alleviating temporary depressive episodes.

5. Sense of Well-Being

Another research found that gratitude elevates our subjective sense of well-being.

The importance of gratitude in enhancing our quality of life is undeniably proven by psychologists through many clinical types of research.

6. Optimism

The feeling, state, and trait of gratitude can lead to an optimistic mindset.

Optimism and positive visualization can lead to better adherence to medication schedules in patients according to one study.

Gratitude influences optimism, which in turn, positively influences our mental and physical health.

7. Taking Care of Yourself

People who are grateful for the things they have are more responsible when it comes to taking care of those things.

In the absence of materialistic feelings, they focus on themselves and improve their lives through reading, exercising, and diet.

self worth example
taking care of yourself

8. Energy Levels Increase

As you start letting gratitude into your life, its benefits will manifest in many forms. One of the benefits of gratitude is also an increase in energy levels.

When you start having better sleep, exercising, and creating an optimistic mindset, your energy levels will see a substantial increase as a consequence.

9. Resiliency

All of us face various forms of stress. The importance of gratitude as a stress-coping mechanism is unique.

Although there are many other forms of stress-coping mechanisms, gratitude, according to this study, is uniquely effective at relieving stress.

10. Live Longer

All the benefits of gratitude highlighted here automatically lead to greater life satisfaction.

Exercising, dieting, sleep, and a whole host of benefits that can be derived from practicing gratitude in our lives lead to a long life as a side effect.

11. Helps in Delaying Gratification (Self-Control)

The famous marshmallow experiment demonstrated that successful people are highly disciplined and can delay gratification.

Certain emotions, like sadness, however, limit one’s capacity to delay gratification.

On the other hand, feelings of gratitude have been positively linked with increasing our powers of discipline and delaying the immediate reward.

12. Helps in Avoiding Burnout

Research has shown that gratitude can help professional athletes avoid burnout.

burnout example

Gratitude puts the mind in an optimistic mood and, likely, the negating effect of gratitude on materialism (or extrinsic factors) can be the cause of its positive effect on stress management.

13. Makes You More Present

Gratitude helps us feel more present.

Dispositional gratitude or generally living with gratitude means that one is always present with one’s blessings.

A grateful person is reminded of the blessings of the benefactor by staying present.

14. Eliminates Negative and Toxic Feelings

The importance of gratitude is not only manifested in it improving the quality of our lives and bringing positivity and sunshine, but it also lies greatly in restricting the incidence of negative ruminations.

Excessively dwelling on negative thoughts and toxic feelings, like envy and resentment, lead to a decrease in our overall life satisfaction.

15. It Helps You Relax

The importance of gratitude as a stress management exercise is evident from scientific experiments.

Focusing on the positive in life can make us feel relaxed.

There is no better way to silence the chatter in your mind than a little gratitude.

How to Practice Gratitude

50 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude is a journey that requires consistent practice. Here are 5 steps that can help you get started with practicing gratitude.


  • Gratitude Journal
  • Reminder App or Alarm
  • Inspirational Quotes
  • Gratitude Jar (Optional)
  • Meditation or Guided Practices


  1. Start a gratitude journal: Dedicate a few minutes each day to write down things you are grateful for. Reflect on the positive aspects of your life, experiences, relationships, or even small moments that bring you joy.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Cultivate awareness of the present moment and intentionally focus on things you appreciate. Take a few minutes each day to pause, breathe, and reflect on the blessings in your life, such as the beauty of nature, the support of loved ones, or your personal strengths.
  3. Express gratitude to others: Take the time to express your appreciation to people who have made a positive impact in your life. Write a heartfelt note, send a kind message, or simply express your gratitude face-to-face. Genuine expressions of gratitude can strengthen relationships and create a sense of connection and goodwill.
  4. Find gratitude in challenges: Even during difficult times, there are often silver linings or lessons to be learned. Practice reframing challenges by finding gratitude for the growth, resilience, or new perspectives they may bring. Seek opportunities to learn from setbacks and appreciate the strength they can build within you.
  5. Cultivate gratitude rituals: Incorporate gratitude into your daily routine through rituals or practices that remind you to be grateful. It could be saying a gratitude prayer or affirmation, creating a gratitude jar where you add notes of appreciation, or setting reminders on your phone to pause and reflect on what you are grateful for.

Final Remarks

Gratitude is not a recent concept; it has been preached as a moral virtue by various religious and moral philosophies for thousands of years.

Modern science is just now discovering the importance of gratitude for living a healthy life.

We should practice gratitude in our daily life to see the benefits accrue over time.

You should also check out this guide on writing a gratitude journal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the brain benefits of gratitude?

Practicing gratitude has several brain benefits. It can enhance overall well-being by promoting positive emotions, reducing stress, and improving mental health. Additionally, it can increase resilience, foster empathy and social connections, and even improve sleep quality.

Why is gratitude the most powerful emotion?

Gratitude is often considered a powerful emotion because it has the ability to shift our focus from negativity to positivity, promoting a sense of contentment and satisfaction with what we have. It cultivates a mindset of abundance, fosters resilience, and allows us to experience greater joy and fulfillment in life.

What is the highest form of gratitude?

The highest form of gratitude is often seen as the genuine expression of gratitude through action. It is not just about feeling grateful but also demonstrating it through acts of kindness, generosity, and service towards others, thereby creating a positive ripple effect in the world.