Why Grateful People Are Happy People: Guest Post by Wendy de Jong

November 9, 2017

Grateful People are Happy PeopleDo you ever wonder why grateful people are happy people? Well, you are in for a treat today as my friend Wendy de Jong who blogs at The Gratfulist shares with us some nuggets of truth about gratitude.  I love the tools she leaves us with to start a gratitude practice. She continually inspires me with her words to want to live a life that starts with being thankful. 

Why Grateful People Are Happy People

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

You might have seen this quote float around on Pinterest. It piqued your interest, and then you probably scrolled past it.

When you think about it, though, this quote holds great promise. What I know for sure is that gratitude makes us joyful. I know this from personal experience. (I’ll tell you a little more about that later.) But there’s also scientific evidence showing the causal relationship between gratitude and happiness. Don’t trust me, trust science.

When you think of people that are grateful, you probably think of people like Oprah or Richard Branson. They’re rich and successful. They’re thought leaders with a huge following. So, they must be grateful, right?

You would think that happiness leads to gratitude. That’s what we’ve been conditioned to think. If only we’d have a nice house, a new car, a successful career, and an exciting relationship, we will be happy as a result. And when we have all of those things and are happy, then – and only then – we’ll have something to be grateful for.

But, as you know, it doesn’t really work like this. When you’ve achieved something – like buying a car you’ve been saving for years or creating a new product for your business – you immediately set your sights on the next goal. That’s okay. It’s human nature to keep wanting to do better for yourself.

However, the downside is that happiness is continuously out of reach.

Also, when you’re constantly striving for bigger and better, it’s easy to lose sight of the things you have now and take them for granted. When happiness seems elusive, there’s no room for gratitude.

That’s the struggle for most of us, isn’t it?

Gratitude and happiness: do you have it backwards?

Scientists have figured out that the way we think about gratitude and happiness is backwards. Yes, there’s a causal relationship between happiness and gratitude. But, surprisingly, the relationship that science has found to be true isn’t ‘happiness leads to gratitude’ but ‘gratitude leads to happiness’.

Gratitude is the largest contributor to happiness. Robert Emmons in his book ‘Thanks!’ describes how gratitude has been found to increase happiness by a whopping 25% and overall well-being by 8%. You read that right. Gratitude CAUSES happiness.

If you want to be happier in one or more areas of your life (who doesn’t?), starting a daily gratitude practice is the way to go.

Starting your gratitude practice

Convinced? If you’re ready to let a bit of gratitude in your life, here are a few tips.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

A gratitude journal is the most well-known and commonly used form of practicing gratitude. I started practicing gratitude almost five years ago using a gratitude journal. Each night I write down three things I’m grateful for that day.

When I started my gratitude practice, I was in a bad place. I was depressed, lonely, and unhappy. Writing down three things I was grateful for – which takes just one minute to do – was about the only thing I felt like I could set my mind to. Over time, I’ve found that practicing gratitude has changed my mindset and perspective. I’m more content. I’ve started noticing, appreciating, and savoring the beauty in everyday moments.

There are many different ways and methods for practicing gratitude – too many to describe here. If you’re not sure if writing a gratitude list or keeping a gratitude journal is for you, take a look at some alternatives here.

Do you ever wonder why grateful people are happy people? You would think that happiness leads to gratitude. That’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe.

Stop Taking Things for Granted

If a formal gratitude practice isn’t for you, you could integrate gratitude into your everyday life. Make it your intention to look at things, events, nature, or people in a new light. Stop taking them for granted. If you can look at even the most basic things as a blessing, you’ll find that your life becomes lighter and happier.

Go Deeper

Another piece of advice I can give you when it comes to gratitude is to look beyond the surface. By going deeper, you can see so much more than you’ve initially thought possible.

You can be grateful for the tree in your backyard because it’s gorgeously green. That’s fine. But can you think of other reasons to be grateful for that beautiful tree? That the tree contributes to a beautiful scenery, that it shades you from the sun and protects you from the rain, that it houses a few bird nests, that it’s an example of perseverance because a tree literally and figuratively weathers any storm, that it’s an example of hope because a tree loses its leaves every fall but it also grows new leaves every spring. Maybe you can think of better examples than these.

With Thanksgiving coming up later this month, starting a gratitude practice is an excellent way to extend your gratitude throughout the year. Practicing gratitude has a lot of benefits. One major benefit is that it makes you a happier person.

Remember that quote “It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Next time you see it on your Pinterest timeline, you’ll know from personal experience how true it is.

What are you grateful for today? Share three things you’re grateful for in the comments.

Please meet my friend –

Wendy de Jong is a recovering perfectionist on a mission to help fellow creatives let go of their perfectionism and embrace their perfectly imperfect selves. She’s a book-oholic, a homemade pizza aficionado, and driving around in her bright red convertible car is her latest guilty pleasure. She took a break from a Scandal-binge on Netflix (gasp!) to create The Gratitude Toolbox, a free set of resources to help you jumpstart a successful and sustainable gratitude practice.

Connect with Wendy – Website – Instagram – Twitter:


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  1. Reply

    Unlock the Fullness of Life This Thanksgiving | Embracing the Unexpected

    […] If you are looking for a little help unlocking gratitude please visit these recent posts: Do You Have an “Attitude of Gratitude” and Why Grateful People Are Happy People.   […]

  2. Reply


    SUCH great timing for me! I am speaking to a MOPS group soon on gratitude and giving as a way to combat materialism and discontentment in the holiday season – you have some wonderful insights and ideas here! This is always something I have to practice and keep in check. Blessings!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Your topic sounds fantastic. I am so glad Wendy’s insight will help. Thank you for stopping by. Maree

    2. Reply

      Wendy (@TheGratefulist)

      Aww, thanks so much! I’m so to happy to hear that you’ve found these tips helpful. And I just love how you’ll be spreading gratitude through your talk. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Reply


    Good thoughts, Wendy. Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of “going deeper.” I’m often grateful throughout the day, but interesting perspective to take each of those thoughts even just one step deeper. 🙂 Nice to meet you. Thanks for sharing Wendy today, Maree. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Brenda, I am so glad you got to meet Wendy through her writing. I too like the idea to take our thoughts a little deeper. Maree

    2. Reply

      Wendy (@TheGratefulist)

      I’m so happy to hear that my post was helpful for you, Brenda! And that the tip of ‘going deeper’ resonated with you. Every few months I find that my gratitude practice becomes a bit stale or repetitive, as a write the same things in my gratitude list over and over again. Going deeper helps me shake things up. It’s nice to ‘virtually’ meet you too! 🙂

  4. Reply

    Wendy (@TheGratefulist)

    Hey Maree! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be featured on your blog! I had a blast writing this post and I’m so excited to see it live on Embracing the Unexpected 🙂

    Wendy from TheGratefulist.com

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Wendy, Well that makes for two grateful people. It is such an honor to have you posting here on “Embracing the Unexpected.” I love what you have to say on gratitude. Your website has helped me continue to overcome perfectionism and turn towards gratitude. Maree

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