Gratitude – Concept, benefits, religious vision and famous quotes

We explain what gratitude is, its benefits and differences with moral debt. Also, how it is viewed by different religions.

Gratitude can be directed toward something concrete, such as a person, or something abstract.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude It is a feeling or emotion in which an other is recognized for a benefit that has been received, is being received or is about to be received. It can be felt towards something concrete (someone) or abstract (for example, life).

At the same time, it can be understood as a general attitude of gratitude in life, that is, a willingness to consider yourself lucky for what has been experienced and received, instead of focusing on unsatisfied desires and frustrations.

Gratitude is the object of study of psychology, but it has occupied the interest of philosophical thought in what concerns ethics and morals, and in particular it has been present in the doctrine of the most varied religions, dating from ancient times. Even in recent times, efforts have been made to understand the practical behavioral effects of gratitude, such as the change it introduces in personal relationships, for example.

Gratitude and moral debt

It is important to distinguish gratitude from moral debt, that is, the feeling that you are committed to someone for something that was received, or that someone else is “owed a favor”. In the latter case, it is more a matter of repaying a help received, “repaying it” or paying off a debt, impressions that they are not usually associated with gratitude at all.

In fact, gratitude usually comes from the gratuitousness of the help, from the generosity of the other, while the feeling of debt can even prevent one from accepting certain aid, only by not feeling obliged to repay it later. Gratitude usually improves the relationship between the giver and the recipient.

Religious vision of gratitude

Gratitude is an element present in the great monotheistic religions, in which prayer and song have the task not only of begging for God’s help or protection, but also of thanking him for life and everything received. This places the faithful in a relationship of gratitude with the divine, which can be understood in different ways depending on each religion:

  • According to Judaism, gratitude must be an essential part of the life of the believer, since all things come from God and most of the great prayers (such as the Shema Israel) consist of explicit formulas of gratitude to an omnipotent and severe god. An Orthodox Jew, throughout the day, will give God more than a hundred thanks a day through short blessings called berakhots.
  • According to Christianity, gratitude must be “the basic Christian attitude”, in the words of Martin Luther (1483-1546), especially since the Christian God is generous and loving, who attends to each person in a personal and individual way. So Christian gratitude is not only directed to God, but it is attempted to be reproduced in the daily conduct of the faithful, through their actions and deeds.
  • According to islam, Muslims are to be continually and constantly grateful in their lives, since – according to the teaching of the Qur’an – only then will they be rewarded with great pleasures (Chapter 14). Traditional Muslim sayings put the grateful at the head of those summoned by God to paradise, and the pillar of Islamic practice, the five-fold call to prayer throughout the day, is based on demonstrating to God the gratitude of his followers.

Benefits of gratitude

gratitude benefits
Expressing gratitude helps you have a more positive attitude and improve your quality of life.

Much has been said in recent times about the positive impact of gratitude in our lives, whether from a spiritual and emotional point of view, neurological or physiological. Various scientific experiences have been put into practice in order to determine if there really is a relationship between the prevalence of this feeling and quality of life, and according to different sources, the results could be promising.

Among the benefits that are attributed to the practice of gratitude (that is, to assume a grateful attitude in life), are:

  • Higher levels of everyday happiness, better deal with others and a more affable and less pessimistic disposition of life.
  • Higher personal growth margins, of resilience and growth in the face of circumstances, as well as easier acceptance of oneself and a better disposition to change.
  • Better disposition for rest and sleep, and therefore less physical and mental wear on the body.
  • Lower stress levels and better management of emotions, which affects better blood pressure rates.
  • A more positive attitude facing the challenges of life, which contributes to a more flexible personality and less existential suffering.

Phrases about gratitude

Some famous quotes about gratitude are:

  • “Always reciprocate generously with your benefactors, and by prudence stay away from the wicked who insinuate doing the wrong thing” – Aesop (ca. 600-ca. 564 BC), fabulist of Ancient Greece.
  • “Thanks are also called / the three beautiful sisters, / that one gives, another receives, another thanks” – Bartolomé Cairasco de Figueroa (1538-1610), Canarian poet and playwright.
  • “Gratitude is the most beautiful flower that springs from the soul” – Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), American clergyman.
  • “Gratitude is the memory of the heart” – Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), American writer and naturalist.
  • “You, those who receive, do not assume the burden of gratitude if you do not want to place a yoke on you and on whoever gives you” – Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), Lebanese painter and poet.
  • “We often take for granted the things that most deserve our gratitude” – Cynthia Ozick (1928-), Jewish-American novelist and essayist.
  • “What separates privilege from right is gratitude” – Brené Brown (1965-), American author.