When comparing concepts it is helpful to have definitions in order to start from a common foundation of understanding.
In the Oxford Online Dictionary, Gratitude is defined as the “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Thankful is defined as “pleased and relieved.”
One can right away see a difference emerging between these terms that can aid in making comparisons.
Being grateful is showing appreciation with kindness, whereas being thankful is simply to be pleased and relieved.
Interesting, isn’t it, that to be thankful has a side effect of being “relieved”? Relieved from what one might ask? Thanking seems to be something we do to be because of a sense of obligation.
Remember “the magic word” that we were reminded of growing up? It’s expected that we give thanks for something that has been given to us or an action that someone does for us. Once we say, “thank you”, we’re off the hook, so to speak.
Gratitude seems a deeper response as it contains kindness and appreciation for what we’ve been offered without prior expectation.
“Gratitude is an emotion expressing an appreciation for what one has as opposed to what one wants”, according to Psychology Today.
Furthermore, Harvard Medical School offers that gratitude is a “thankful appreciation for what one receives – tangible or intangible – as they acknowledge the goodness in their lives…”
Apparently being grateful is a much deeper emotion or response to receiving something than being thankful because there is an inherent kindness needed in gratitude.
The response comes from the heart and from being mindful of what was generously offered so the feeling lasts longer.
So, it seems that we get more personal benefit from being grateful and it would be something one would like to cultivate.
Mindful meditation is a practice that helps us be more aware of thoughts, sensations and even to feel gratitude for all that we have in our lives, at least in the present moment, anyway.
The more one integrates gratitude, the more comfortable it will become. With practice one may well notice a change in oneself by feeling grateful as it fills the heart with kindness.
Published October 30, 2020 – humanwindow.com/grateful-vs-thankful/
by Anne-Marie Emanuelli, Creative Director at Mindful Frontiers