Jean François Millet (1814-1875)
L' Angélus (1859)

Quotes on Gratitude

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Gratitude is the best attitude.
— Anonymous

Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth,
who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
King David (1085 BC-1015 BC), Psalms 147.7-8 (1042 BC)

And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah,
that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery.
So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
Jonah (c. 800 BC), Book of Jonah, 4.6 (5th century BC),

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
— Aesop (620-550 BC), Androcles

What soon grows old? Gratitude. — Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC),
     from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, V.19

Stop wishing to merit anyone's gratitude or
thinking that anyone can become grateful.
— Gaius Valerius Catullus (84 BC-54 BC), Carmina

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Pro Plancio (54 BC)

He who receives a benefit with gratitude,
repays the first installment on his debt.
— Seneca (8 BC-65 AD), On Benefits, Book II.22.1

If I only have the will to be grateful, I am so.
— Seneca (8 BC-65 AD)

Epicurus says, "gratitude is a virtue that has commonly profit annexed to it."
And where is the virtue that has not? But still the virtue is to be valued
for itself, and not for the profit that attends it.
— Seneca (8 BC-65 AD)

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God.
— Saint Paul of Tarsus (3-67 AD), I. Thessalonians 5.16-18 (54 AD)

Let us thank God for his priceless gift!
— Saint Paul of Tarsus (3-67 AD), 2 Corinthians 9.15 (57 AD)

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit
because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.
— Tacitus (56-120 AD)

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
— Saint Ambrose (340-397 AD), De Spiritu Sancto

Prayer is the fruit of joy and thankfulness.
— Evagrios the Solitary (345-399 AD), On Prayer: 153 Texts, 15

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular
motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering... Now, let us
acknowledge the wonder of our physical incarnation— that we are here, in these
particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances.
May we never take for granted the gift of our individuality.
— Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Your Lord is bountiful to mankind: yet most of them do not give thanks.
— Muhammad (570-632 AD), Koran, 27.73

Whatever it is, / I cannot understand it, / although gratitude /
stubbornly overcomes me / until I'm reduced to tears.
— Saigyo (1118-1190), "Gratitude"
     quoted by Sam Hamill, Gratitude (1998), p. 5

We owe thankfulness to God, not sour faces.
— Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), Mathnawi, I.1525

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
— Meister Eckhart (1260-1329)

Serve many fruitlessly, If one repay,
Th' ingratitude of thousands 'twill outweigh.
— Luigi Pulci (1432-1484), Morgante Maggiore, XXI.18

He who receives a benefit should never forget it;
he who bestows should never remember it.
— Pierre Charron (1541-1603), French philosopher

Thank you for nothing.
— Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), Don Quixote (1615), I.3.1

I can express no kinder sign of love
Than this kind kiss. O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
For thou hast given me in this beauteous face
A world of earthly blessings to my soul,
If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Henry VI: Part 2 (1590), 1.1.20

First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,
Accept my thankfulness. (Sicinius to Menenius)
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Coriolanus (1607), 5.4.59

sit, sit. The gods require our thanks.
You great benefactors, sprinkle our society with
thankfulness. For your own gifts, make yourselves praised:
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Timon of Athens (1607), 3.6.71

You, and your lady, Take from my heart all thankfulness!
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Pericles (1608), 3.3.4

Thou has given so much to me... Give me one thing more— a grateful heart.
— George Herbert (1593-1633)

And as it is the most generous souls who have most gratitude,
it is those who have most pride, and who are most base and infirm,
who most allow themselves to be carried away by anger and hatred.
— René Descartes (1596-1650), Passions of the Soul (1649), CCI

The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burthensome, still paying, still to owe;
Forgetful what from him I still receivd,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and dischargd; what burden then?
— John Milton (1608-1674), Paradise Lost (1667), IV, lines 2727-2732

From David learn to give thanks for everything. Every furrow
in the book of Psalms is sown with the seeds of thanksgiving.
— Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

In most of mankind gratitude is merely a secret hope for greater favours.
— La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), Maximes, #298 (1678)

If you have lived, take thankfully the past.
Make, as you can, the sweet remembrance last.
— John Dryden (1631-1700)

Thanksgiving is good but thanks-living is better.
— Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Whenever I find a great deal of gratitude in a poor man, I take it
for granted there would be as much generosity if he were a rich man.
— Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

A richer present I design,
A finished form, of work divine,
Surpassing all the power of art;
A thinking head, a grateful heart.
— Mary Barber (1690-1757), "On Sending my Son as a Present to Dr. Jonathan Swift,
     Dean of St. Patrick's, on his Birthday", Poems on Several Occasions (1734)

He enjoys much who is thankful for little;
a grateful mind is both a great and a happy mind.
— Thomas Secker (1693-1768), Archbishop of Cantebury

Gratitude is a burden upon our imperfect nature.
— Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773), Letter to his Son (Nov. 7, 1765)

Most People return small Favors, acknowledge middling ones,
and repay great ones with Ingratitude.
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanack (April 1751)

Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation;
you do not find it among gross people.
— Samuel Johnson (1709-1784),
     Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides (1785) [Sept. 20, 1773]

Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven.
— William Romaine (1714-1795)

If we meet someone who owes us a debt of gratitude, we remember
the fact at once. How often we can meet someone to whom we owe
a debt of gratitude without thinking about it at all!
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Elective Affinities (1809), 2.4

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
— William Blake (1757-1827), Songs of Innocence (1789)

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
No,— here's to the pilot that weathered the storm.
— George Canning (1770-1827),
     Song for the Inauguration of the Pitt Club (May 25, 1802)

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
—I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.
— William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Simon Lee (1798), Lines 90-96

All men feel an habitual gratitude, and something of an honorable
bigotry, for the objects which have long continued to please them.
— William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Lyrical Ballads, 2nd Ed. (1800), Preface

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul;
and the heart of man knoweth none more fragrant.
— Hosea Ballou (1771-1852)

If gratitude is due from children to their earthly parent, how much more
is the gratitude of the great family of men due to our father in heaven.
— Hosea Ballou (1771-1852)

In the deepest night of trouble and sorrow God gives us so much to be thankful
for that we need never cease our singing. With all our wisdom and foresight we can
take a lesson in gladness and gratitude from the happy bird that sings all night,
as if the day were not long enough to tell its joy.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones
which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.
— Henry Clay (1777-1852)

No metaphysician ever felt the deficiency of language so much as the grateful.
— Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832)

Those who make us happy are always thankful to us for being so;
their gratitude is the reward of their benefits.
— Anne Sophie Swetchine (1782-1857)

Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,
To bow for gratitude before Jove's throne.
— John Keats (1795-1821), I Stood Tip-toe on a Little Hill, line 150

Gratitude is a fool's word; we find it in the dictionary,
but it is not in the heart of man.
— Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), Modeste Mignon (1844), p. 278

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

This race is never grateful: from the first,
One fills their cup at supper with pure wine,
Which back they give at cross-time on a sponge,
In bitter vinegar.
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Aurora Leigh (1857), Book 8

Gratitude is not only the memory but the homage of the heart—
rendered to God for his goodness.
— Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867)

Postal officials say that before Christmas they receive tons of letters written
to Santa Claus, but after Christmas how few letters of thanks are sent to him!
From childhood onward, human beings seem to be characterized by thanklessness.
— Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)

Don't kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only,
and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy.
— Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), Remark to a newly freed slave
     in Richmond, Virginia, April 1864, in Francis Fisher Browne,
     The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln (1887), Ch. 3, Sect. 16

My life has crept so long on a broken wing
Through cells of madness, haunts of horror and fear,
That I come to be grateful at last for a little thing.
— Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), Maud: A Monodrama (1855), III.6.1

Next to ingratitude, the most painful thing to bear is gratitude.
— Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit (1870)

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
— Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soul out of which
thanks naturally grows, A proud man is seldom a grateful man,
for he never thinks he gets as much as he gives.
— Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

One can put some trust in the gratitude of a sovereign, and also in that
of his family; under certain conditions, one can even rely upon it;
but one can never expect anything from the gratitude of a nation.
— Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

Friendships begin with liking or gratitude— roots that can be pulled up.
— George Eliot (1819-1880), Daniel Deronda (1876), Book 4, Ch. 32

Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is,
knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first
great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
— Mark Twain (1835-1910), Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894), Ch. 3

Sleep; and if life was bitter to thee, pardon,
If sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live;
And to give thanks is good, and to forgive.
— Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), Ave atque Vale (1878), stanza 17

Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
— Charles Edward Jefferson (1860-1937)

Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness
is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude.
Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.
— John Henry Jowett (1864-1923)

No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children's gratitude or woman's love.
— William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Vacillation (1933), Stanza 3

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
— G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

A grateful thought toward heaven is of itself a prayer.
— Rudolph Block (Bruno Lessing) (1870-1940)

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
— G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed
highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers,
but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling.
— Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark
from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep
gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
— Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

everyday politeness and gratitude. And if I were in Julia's place I'd tell
— James Joyce (1882-1941), Dubliners (1914), 15.731

Very gratefully, with grateful appreciation, with sincere appreciative
gratitude, in appreciatively grateful sincerity of regret, he declined.
— James Joyce (1882-1941), Ulysess (1922), Ch. Ithaca, 549.33-34

and dear thank you signifies national gratitude.
— James Joyce (1882-1941), Finnegans Wake (1939), 116.9-10

Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep.
— Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965), U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
— Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), Reflections on America (1948), Ch. 17

A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God
has done for him in Christ and whose whole comportment and whose
activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.
— Jacques Maritain (1886-1960), A Diary of Private Prayer (1936)

The abundance of a grateful heart gives honor to God even if it
does not turn to Him in words. An unbeliever who is filled with
thanks for his very being has ceased to be an unbeliever.
— Paul Tillich (1886-1965), The Eternal Now (1963)

Got no check books, got no banks,
Still I'd like to express my thanks—
I got the sun in the mornin'
And the moon at night.
— Irving Berlin (1888-1989), I Got the Sun in the Mornin (Song, 1946)

A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
Book of Common Prayer (1892)

Maybe the only thing worse than having to give gratitude constantly...
is having to accept it.
— William Faulkner (1897-1962), Requiem for a Nun (1951), Act 2, Scene 1

God needs no worship, no praise, no thanksgiving. It is man himself
who needs the benefit to be derived from these activities.
— Paul Brunton (1898-1981), Notebooks of Paul Brunton: Perspectives (1984), p. 224

Look how the smaller birds greet the sun, with so much merry chirruping
and so much outpouring of song! It is their way of expressing worship for
the only Light they can know, an outer one. But man can also know the inner Sun,
the Light of the Overself. How much more reason has he to chirp and sing than
the little birds! Yet how few man feel gratitude for such privilege.
— Paul Brunton (1898-1981), Notebooks of Paul Brunton: Perspectives (1984), p. 225

Charity never humiliated him who profited from it,
nor ever bound him by the chains of gratitude,
since it was not to him but to God that the gift was made.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
— Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), Reflections On The Human Condition (1973)

Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.
— Michael Ramsay (1904-1988)

There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb
of success, each encounter of love... In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise
and humble language of us all, the idiom of a frightened and hopeful humanity.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), Nobel Lecture, Stockholm (Dec. 8, 1978)

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and
that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. It is very easy to overestimate
the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Ethics (1949)

One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay "in kind" somewhere else in life.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), Listen! the Wind (1938), Ch. 19

There is a built-in sense of indebtedness in the consciousness of man,
an awareness of owing gratitude, or being caled upon at certain moments
to reciprocate, to answer, to live in a way which is compatible with
the grandeur and mystery of living.
— Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), Who Is Man? (1965), Ch. 6

The best way to show my gratitude to God is
to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.
— Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

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 (1917-1963)

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.
Have you used one to say "thank you?"
— William A. Ward (1921-1994)

Gratefulness makes us aware of the gift and makes us happy. As long
as we take things for granted they don't make us happy. Gratefulness is
the key to happiness. Practicing gratitude is so central to my spirituality.
— David Steindl-Rast (b. 1926), Sacred Journey (October 2001)

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
— Cynthia Ozick (b. 1928)

In relation to others, gratitude is good manners;
in relation to ourselves, it is a habit of the heart and a spiritual discipline.
— Daphne Rose Kingma, A Garland of Love (1992)


Notes: The above quotes were compiled from over a dozen books on Quotation Dictionaries in the Stanford Green Library Reference Section. Dates of authors were obtained from Wikipedia and indexes of Quotation Books. Online Concordances were used to find the source of most quotes. If readers have any additional suggestions or know the source of the unidentified quotes, please email me. Many thanks. — PYC

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