The Difference between Thankful and Grateful

Let’s start out by saying THANK YOU, WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR YOU! 

 Wait, did we say the same thing twice? 

No, there is actually a difference in thanks and gratitude!

You say “thank you” to others daily, for stuff ranging from getting your Starbucks handed over the counter to someone holding a door open for you when your hands are full. But, are you aware of the difference between being “thankful” versus being “grateful”? 

Kid PT wants to show you that difference and give you 10 ways that gratitude can enhance your life.

Thanksgiving- An American Tradition

Halloween is in our rearview mirror and we are marching toward the major holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving.  If you grew up in the US, you learned about the Pilgrims journey and their difficult conditions during travel and after arrival on what would become United States soil. You heard how the Native American people provided invaluable assistance in learning to survive the harsh, unfamiliar landscape, culminating in the celebration of what we have come to know as Thanksgiving,  The majority of you in the US today, don’t live life pitted against the elements, wild animals, and the challenge of depending on only the food you grow for sustenance, thank goodness.  It is easy to imagine how those desperate first settlers were incredibly excited when the skills they were taught began to show good results, like food growing! 

But, were they only THANKFUL, or were they also truly GRATEFUL?

The Difference between Thankful and Grateful

You (and many of us) were probably taught that when we say “Thank You” to someone, we were showing gratitude. Somewhere along the way, the words became used interchangeably when they aren’t.  According to psychmc.com, “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.”  Of course, being thankful when something good or positive happens is a beautiful response! It is just not the same as being grateful for something in your life or world.  Again psychmc.com gives a perfect description of the difference, 

“Where thankfulness is an emotion, gratitude is an attitude of appreciation under any circumstance.”

Gratitude involves being thankful, but it is more than that. Gratitude means expressing thankfulness and being appreciative of life daily even when nothing exciting happens.” In other words, being grateful or having gratitude is a choice you make to practice for yourself, to be content with your own life (physically and mentally),even if you aren’t always happy or some negative things happen.  Thankfulness will fade when the excitement is over, whereas gratitude will remain with you, and provide a more durable satisfaction and sense of wellness. 

Gratitude Can Improve Well-Being

According to a 2018 study from the University of California Berkeley, “Research suggests that gratitude may be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism, and more.”

The study states that “Gratitude is also important to forming and maintaining social relationships.” When you engage with someone and express gratitude for them, they are in turn more likely to express gratitude in return. The expression of gratitude is what helps us form new relationships and strengthen our current ones. Various studies have shown the positive effect of relationships on our emotional well-being, and it is one more added benefit of practicing gratitude. 

10 Ways Gratitude can enhance your life

Scientists have started studying the effects of practices lie positive thinking and gratitude, only in recent years.  According to https://www.montereybayparent.com, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude is Dr. Robert Emmons. This “gratitude guru” conducted studies involving gratitude journals and found that when people regularly practice gratitude, they experience the following notable psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits:

  1. Feel better about their lives overall
  2. Experience higher levels of positive emotions like optimism, enthusiasm, love, and happiness
  3. Are kinder and more generous to others
  4. Have fewer physical problems including pain
  5. Exercise more regularly and eat healthier
  6. Sleep better
  7. Visit the doctor more regularly for checkups
  8. Feel less stressed
  9. Able to cope with stress more effectively and recover more quickly from stressful situations
  10. Live longer–on average, being thankful adds 7 years to our lives!

Wow, I know I’d like to experience those benefits- how about you? 

The article goes on to say that this process of expressing gratitude works by interrupting the cycle of negative, down or upset thoughts.  The beauty of this process is you can do it anytime, anywhere, no special equipment or skills required,  While some people love to write in a beautiful journal with a fancy pen, others find typing or dictating a list into their phone gratifying, while still others feel most comfortable reciting a gratitude list or prayer (aloud or silently). This is a practice that can be shared with loved ones, friends, or children, or used as a time for quiet reflective meditation.  

No one size fits all for a gratitude practice, except that it can make EVERYONE feel better.

Kid PT Staff Gratitude Statements

In the spirit of gratitude, the Kid PT Staff wanted to share our expressions of gratitude with you.

Kelley (Admin): I am so grateful for my wonderful family and the amazing people I work with! 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧❤️

Disha (OT): I’m grateful for my family and my dog ! 🙋‍♀️🐶

Mima (PT): I am grateful for my family, good health and my amazing life!! 👩‍🦱🏆

Wendy (OT): I am grateful for the love I feel each day from my family and friends and for the beauty of this fall season.  Isn’t it just gorgeous? 🧡🍁

Joni (PT/Director): I’m grateful for my family and my health.  I’m also so grateful for my Kid PT family!!!  🚶‍♀️🥰

Ali (PT): I am grateful for any time I get to spend with my family and close friends and for any time I get to spend in the outdoors because spending time with people I love and in nature makes me happy! 😀

Kat (PT): I am grateful:that I am married to my best friend and that I have a wonderful family.  Additionally, I’m grateful for the beautiful outdoors.   🌳👩🏻‍❤️‍👨🏻

Nina (OT): I’m grateful for community and I’m grateful for being surrounded and supported by loved ones! 💞🤲🏻

Melanie (Marketing): I’m grateful for all the people I love, especially my kids. Plus, gratitude for music, reading and theatre making the world a brighter, more positive place to live!  🎭🎶📚

Some of the Kid PT Team at Duke Farms

References:

https://www.psychmc.com/blogs/difference-between-gratitude-and-thankfulness#:~:text=Where%20thankfulness%20is%20an%20emotion,even%20when%20nothing%20exciting%20happens.

https://www.montereybayparent.com/articles/family-advice/10-benefits-of-practicing-gratitude-with-kids/

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