Difference Between Thankfulness and Gratitude

Thankfulness is synonymous with Thanksgiving Day, the day families gather to share a feast, usually with roasted turkey and all the trimmings. It’s the prelude to Black Friday when deals can be made in stores and online, and making preparations to “deck the halls” in anticipation of Christmas Day.

Thankfulness, however, is is a reaction — like when we were kids and woke up on Christmas morning to find a shiny, new red bicycle next to the Christmas tree. Your eyes light up, you stroke the handlebars, and look over at your Dad. He has a huge smile on his face, and your Mom says, “Say ‘Thank You’ to your father, dear, he picked it out.” You rush over and give your Dad a huge hug. You just expressed thankfulness.

Gratitude is a bit different. While being thankful is an emotion, gratitude is an appreciation, under any circumstance in daily life, even when nothing happy or exciting is happening. It’s the quality of being thankful, showing appreciation for what comes your way, an eagerness to return kindness. 

Gratitude requires a positive attitude. It’s formed by the choices we make and how we react to the world around us. When we brush off disappointment or rude comments, we maintain a positive attitude. Our attitude is also influenced by how well we ignore negative self-talk, and accept our current circumstances.

When something good or exciting happens, it is easy to be thankful. We appreciate the warm feelings that come with gifts or happy news. Thankfulness involves how we feel in the moment, and like all feelings, eventually, it fades. Thankfulness is a temporary emotional response to a temporary circumstance. 

Gratitude is a chosen state of being, even when nothing exciting happens. A study from the University of California Berkeley states, that when put into practice, gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions and has a lasting effect on the brain.

So this Thanksgiving week, try a little Gratitude with dinner.

  • Thankfulness fades-Gratitude remains
  • Gratitude deepens our inner connections
  • Gratitude improves longterm relationships

Practicing gratitude is something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving week from us at the Stewardship Foundation!