Why Giving Thanks Is the Key to Our Well-Being

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"This worthy meditation on an essential state of being uplifts without sugarcoating."--Publishers Weekly

What is gratitude? Where does it come from? Why do we need it? How does it change us?

In Gratitude, award-winning author Cornelius Plantinga explores these questions and more. Celebrating the role of gratitude in our lives, Plantinga makes the case that it is the very key to understanding our relationships with one another, the world around us, and God.

Going deeper than mindfulness and positive psychology, Plantinga explores gratitude in a theologically informed and pastorally sensitive way. He shows that being grateful to God is not only our righteous duty but also the single best predictor of our well-being. Gratitude makes us more faithful, joyful, generous, healthy, and content.

While it's easy to focus on the suffering, fear, and worries that surround us, Plantinga places all of that in the larger context of provision, abundance, and delight, empowering readers to experience the deep joy of giving thanks.

1. What Is Gratitude?
2. How Do We Get Gratitude?
3. What Blocks My Gratitude?
4. What Happens to Me if I Am Grateful?
5. Biblical Themes
6. Thank God! Why?
7. It Could Always Be Worse
8. Savoring and Celebrating
9. Taking Care
10. A Cornucopia of Gifts


"Plantinga compellingly blends science and Scripture in shedding new light on 'the greatest of the virtues.' He sensitively argues that gratefulness is not merely a veneer of positive thinking but rather a deep and abiding sense that goodness dwells under the rancor and heartache of daily life. A master storyteller, he makes a convincing case for why gratitude, in good times and in bad, is the best approach to life!"

Robert Emmons, editor in chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology; author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier and The Little Book of Gratitude

"This book is a treasure of pastoral wisdom on a signature virtue of the Christian life. Plantinga is a master preacher, and it shows: this book seamlessly combines readability and rich insight. Gratitude reflects the gracious heart of God, and it befits us as people attuned to his goodness. Readers will be grateful for the gift of this book and the way it teaches us a grateful way of life."

Rebecca DeYoung, professor of philosophy, Calvin University; author of Glittering Vices

"Cornelius Plantinga's rich and insightful new book will do for gratitude what his Not the Way It's Supposed to Be did for sin--which is to say, it will set the terms for all churches and pastors looking to have faithful and informed discussions on this central biblical concept. It is also an inspiring book, and while reading I found myself mentally preparing the sermon series that I will no doubt be preaching on its account. In short, this is a treasure, and all people--pastors and parishioners, people of faith and people not of faith--would be well advised to read it. Trust me, you'll be grateful that you did."

Austin Carty, pastor and author of The Pastor's Bookshelf: Why Reading Matters for Ministry

"Cornelius Plantinga has blessed us with profound insights on the transforming power of gratitude in our lives. He draws from the deep well of theology that is known to a scholar who has obviously spent his career near this well. And yet he writes in the language of a pastor who is gifted at making biblical truth accessible to anyone who thirsts for living water. Along the way in the book it becomes apparent that he is also subversively prophetic to a society that tempts us with self-sufficiency apart from the blessing of receiving grace."

M. Craig Barnes, president emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Cornelius Plantinga has done it again! Shaped by deep theological insights and decades of pastoral reflection, he presents us with a wonderfully accessible, deeply wise, and beautifully written volume. The result is not just to lift our grateful gaze to the One who is worthy of our praise but also to liberate us to appreciate all the wondrous ways we can be thankful for the particulars of our lives. May this book help illumine your path, especially if it currently feels dim or even outright dark."

Kelly M. Kapic, author of You're Only Human

"This beautifully written book welcomes readers into gratitude as a way of life. Plantinga wisely and winsomely mentors us to notice and name gifts and givers--recounting God's mighty acts and blessings in the midst of ordinary days, celebrations, and sorrows. Embracing the gifts of faith, science, Scripture, and everyday examples, Plantinga guides us in practices that cultivate gratitude to God and others with generosity and joy."

Charlotte V. O. Witvliet, professor of psychology, Hope College

The Author

  1. Cornelius Plantinga
    Deborah Hoag

    Cornelius Plantinga

    Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and president emeritus of Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of many books, including...

    Continue reading about Cornelius Plantinga


"[An] astute response to the perennial question, 'How can I seriously thank God when the world seems so awful?'. . . [Plantinga's] observations about gratitude's nuances and complexities resonate, as when he acknowledges that it coexists with sin and pain. . . . This worthy meditation on an essential state of being uplifts without sugarcoating."

Publishers Weekly