Skip to main content

Why Is Gratitude Important? Benefits of Gratitude According to Psychology

Misbah has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She enjoys writing on many psychological and social subjects.

We all know the feeling of gratitude and have experienced it countless times throughout our lives. But there are aspects about it that we may not have thought about yet. This article will clarify many things related to gratitude and its advantages in the light of psychology.

What is Gratitude?

Before we can delve into the question of what gratitude is, it is important to understand this concept because, as we have seen on many occasions, we have only scratched the surface of this word. We could say that gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness towards another person for having brought us a certain benefit

This benefit can be of a very diverse nature: for a favor performed, an act of generosity, a gift, etc. It may even be that the element that represents a benefit has not yet been received, but the promise or intention to do it in the future has been set up, which already awakens the feeling of gratitude.

Answering the question of gratitude was not easy until a while ago, since historically in psychology there has been a tendency to study more deeply emotions that can be opposed to it, such as anguish. It was already in the 21st century, when research on positive emotions intensified, generating in the authors the same interest as negative ones.

As with other personality factors, researchers make a distinction between gratitude as a state and gratitude as a trait. When we speak of the state of gratitude, we refer to that feeling provoked at a given moment in response to an act of kindness towards the person.

As for the gratitude trait, it would be a tendency in the personality of the subject in question to experience this feeling or to do so with more intensity than others.

One issue to keep in mind, before getting into the question of what gratitude is that we should not confuse this concept with feeling indebted. Although both can appear at the same time, and in fact, they do, after obtaining a certain benefit, as mentioned already, their implications are different.

The case of gratitude.

About the feeling of debt, it implies a need to correspond to the benefit received by another, like the person who has provided it, creating reciprocity between the actions.

What is Gratitude for? Its Benefits

Now that we know in more detail what this concept means, we can face the question at hand: what is gratitude for? We will be reviewing the different answers that can be given to this question.

1. It Makes Us Feel Better Physically and Mentally

The simple answer to why gratitude is important is because it makes us feel better. It has been proven that this type of emotion triggers a series of reactions in our body that translate into an increase in our happiness at a mental level, but also an increase in well-being at a physical level.

In this sense, the 2012 Patrick Hill study found that subjects with a greater tendency to be grateful also reported better physical health in their reports. A causal relationship cannot be seen, but a correlation can be made so that a grateful person may have a greater probability of having better mental and physical health than someone who is not.

One of the factors involved in this relationship is relaxation. Thinking about positive emotions (and gratitude is one of them) before going to sleep has been proven to help make it deeper and more restful. So someone who tends to be grateful may have more positive thoughts to reflect on.

This first response to what gratitude is for is already providing us with very valuable information. And it is that thankful people also tend to show other characteristics that make them happier. They can feel more self-confident, have satisfying social relationships, and have coping strategies for difficulties.

These conditions make these subjects less likely to suffer from psychological pathologies such as anxiety or depression. Ultimately, all these conditions create a correlative relationship between being appreciative in a habitual way and well-being at all levels of happiness.

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out, and the tide of love rushes in.”

— Kristin

2. Motivation

As if happiness were not enough, other elements can also be an answer to what gratitude is for. One of them is that of motivation. And it is that the emotion of gratitude can become an excellent engine to promote certain behaviors.

A study led by Carey in 1976 found the effect of appreciation on consumer motivation — in this case, a jewelry store created three customer groups. The first of them after making the purchase was not contacted again. Contact was made with the second, but only for informational purposes of the transaction carried out.

As for the third party, the call was used both to inform him of the purchase made and to thank him for this action. After a while, the recurrence of all these clients was studied. In the first group, a significant rate was not appreciated that is, customers did not get back to buy again in that store. Those of the second returned to buy 30% of the occasions.

Scroll to Continue

The third group answers the question of what gratitude is for. And these consumers, on average, returned to buy new products in 70% of the cases. Studies show that spectacular growth, and all this is based on a single factor: that is gratitude.

This is not the only investigation. It has also been found that more tips are received when servers at restaurants write something as simple as the word “thank you” on the payment receipt before handing it out to customers.

"Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency, and you will attract much better things.”

— Rhonda Byrne

3. Altruism

We have seen two compelling reasons for what gratitude is for. But we can still find another, and it is nothing less than altruistic. Altruism could be defined as any behavior that a person exercises to help another, without any type of reward for it.

Ultimately, and taking the situation to the extreme, altruism means reducing the chances of survival of oneself in favor of those of another individual. This type of behavior is common when there is a kinship relationship, especially from parents to children. But it can also be observed among subjects who do not share genetic links, not even emotional ones.

What has been found through different investigations is that those people who feel more grateful tend to try to help more people selflessly. In other words, those people who experience gratitude regularly — either by repetition of the state of gratitude or by having a trait of it are going to be more likely to exercise altruistic behaviors.

This correlation has important implications of what we are seeing, is that a person who has experienced gratitude and then has obtained such important benefits as feeling better physically and mentally, improving their well-being, and even experiencing feelings of happiness, too, will try to help others in need.

That is, in some way, you will export that feeling of well-being to other individuals through actions that in turn will generate gratitude in them and then will promote happiness. To make it simple, we could say about what gratitude is that not only does it have a series of benefits for those who experience it, but also that these can become “contagious” to others.

This chain of gratitude and altruistic actions is, without a doubt good news for all members of society, where these behaviors take place, as important and positive attitudes, such as generosity or social reciprocity, are being promoted.


Although there are other answers, the ones that we have been able to review, make us now know the answer to what gratitude is for and we know the tremendous relevance of this feeling in our lives.

We should always offer gratitude, as it is a gesture of well-being and giving respect and showing affection to people is the best deed we can do. It shows peace and harmony. I think everyone loves to be loved and cared for, so offering gratitude is equally beneficial for both the giver and taker. It makes you and others happy and fulfilled.

Much Gratitude


Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior: Helping When It Costs You by Monica Y. Bartlett, David DeSteno

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 30, 2021:

Thanks a lot, Devika

I am glad you liked it

Much Gratitude

Blessings :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2021:

Misbah This is a good thought for a hub so much to gratitude You share a lot that makes me think about life.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 30, 2021:

Thanks a lot, Nella for reading and sharing your thoughts

Much appreciated

Sending Blessings your way today :)

Nella DiCarlo from Guelph, Ontario on March 29, 2021:

Great article, gratitude is something that helps us feel better and more hopeful.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 29, 2021:

Thanks a lot Moondot, I am glad you liked it. Much appreciated


Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 29, 2021:

Rosina, Thanks for sharing your thoughts

This is true, positive attitude makes us feel better and lively.

Love and to be Grateful are two very main essentials of a happy life

Much Gratitude

Blessings :)

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on March 29, 2021:

That was a nice read, Misbah. You have chosen a great topic. Keep up the good work.

Rosina S Khan on March 28, 2021:

I have read somewhere love and gratitude have the same frequency. And when we vibrate at this frequency, we can have the Universe grant to us everything we want. I enjoyed your article about gratitude. Thanks for sharing, Misbah.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 28, 2021:

Thank you so much, John. That is so kind of you, dear friend. I too feel blessed and grateful to have such kind and beautiful souls like you around me.

Much Much Gratitude

God Bless you always


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 28, 2021:

A wonderful and well-written article, Masbah. As you say, gratitude can benefit both the giver and the receiver, and is a wonderful thing to experience or witness. I am also grateful for meeting you, and many other beautiful people, I now call friends, on this site.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 28, 2021:

Thanks you so much, Peggy

You are very kind. May God bless you, dear friend

I am grateful to God for I have a wonderful HP family

Much Gratitude

Peace and Blessings

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 28, 2021:

Mr. Bill, that's so kind of you

Thanks a lot, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by beautiful souls, like you, who inspire and uplift me daily

Much Gratitude, Sir

Blessings always

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2021:

You have written an excellent article showing the benefits of gratitude. I am grateful for getting to know you on this site. Your words are always full of love and blessings.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from "a Serene Land" (This Existence Is an Illusion) on March 28, 2021:

E Randall, thanks for reading it

I am glad you liked it

Much Gratitude