What is Gratitude?

We often say “thank you”, but what does it mean to be grateful? In a Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude is Good," the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, argues that it is "an affirmation of goodness." By expressing gratitude, "We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”

In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” In that way, gratitude strengthens our relationships, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”