Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thankful or Grateful?

Thanksgiving is behind us and every year it raises a question for me. What is the difference between being thankful and being grateful?

According to the dictionary there is no difference. They are perfect synonyms. But that just doesn’t seem right to me. They may mean the same things, but I do not think that we experience them as being the same.

I think that for many of us the word “thanks” doesn't carry that much meaning. As children we are taught manners, when someone does something for you or gives you something, you say ‘thank you.’ When someone says ‘thank you’ to you, you say ‘you're welcome.’ This polite behavior is taught to us over and over again until it becomes rote, an automatic reply to a gesture or deed given without a whole lot of thought. It is good manners and we were raised to have good manners. That is good and important. The problem is that saying thank you just doesn't carry the weight that it once did.

 Gratitude is another story. When someone tells us that they are grateful to someone for something that they did, or for something that they received, that carries meaning. It carries with it the suggestion that, what ever the deed or item was, someone was touched by it. The word “grateful” has a gravitas that thank you just doesn't carry.

I suppose that some ‘thank you’s’ are given from the heart and received that way too.  But in general, I believe that expressing our gratitude carries more significance than just saying thanks. Should we change the name of our holiday to “Gratitudes-givingday”? I don't think so and I am certain that Hallmark would put up a big fight if we tried. What I do think we can do is remember that Thanksgiving is about more than just saying thanks. It is a time to acknowledge all that we are grateful for.

If we do that, then our bellies and our hearts will be full at the end of the day.

 Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.


  1. I agree---gratitude to me implies a sense of being humbly thankful.

  2. Doing an impromptu search on Thankful vs Grateful and came across your post. Love your insight.

    1. Same here, searching & found ur post. Ur wisdom speaks to my heart, & feels timeless. Todays date 11/22/2016 ;)

    2. Same here, searching & found ur post. Ur wisdom speaks to my heart, & feels timeless. Todays date 11/22/2016 ;)

  3. This was one of the best explanations of the difference between thankful and grateful I've come across.

  4. Thanks for this explanation. I have challenged to find something I am grateful for every day and I realized that I really did not understand the difference between grateful and thankful. I can easily say that I am grateful for something because it is how I feel, thankful is harder to describe. Like you said, grateful is a deep down feeling and thankful is basically a word of mouth. Thanks again.1