Taking Things with Gratitude, and Not Taking Things for Granted

G. K. Chesterton? Hugh Gesshugh? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The Thanksgiving season reminds me of a notion that I have seen expressed in three different ways:

Instead of taking things for granted, we should take them with gratitude.

We must learn to take things with gratitude instead of taking them for granted.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

This thought has been credited to the influential English writer and commentator to G. K. Chesterton, but I have been unable to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: “The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton” appeared in 1936 which was the last year of the author’s life. He offered the following guidance to his readers. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

. . . I hope it is not pompous to call the chief idea of my life; I will not say the doctrine I have always taught, but the doctrine I should always have liked to teach. That is the idea of taking things with gratitude, and not taking things for granted.

A statement formatted as a straightforward injunction or a clear-cut aphorism facilitates transmission and radiation. The above statement fits neither of these two patterns. Thus, its dispersal in its original form has been hindered. Unsurprisingly, the phrasing has evolved during the ensuing decades.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Taking Things with Gratitude, and Not Taking Things for Granted


  1. 1936, The Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton by G. K. Chesterton (Gilbert Keith Chesterton), Chapter 16: The God with the Golden Key, Quote Page 341 and 342, Sheed & Ward, New York. (Verified with scans)