Understanding the Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness

By Deborah Perdue

Thanksgiving is drawing ever so close, and maybe it is time to re-evaluate our understanding of this celebration, which is held in such high regard by Americans and Canadians alike. At this time of the year, most of us focus on being thankful, which is great, but we sometimes forget about the weightier and more spiritual concept of gratitude. The two terms are used interchangeably, but they are centuries apart when it comes to implication.

So, what is the difference between gratitude and thankfulness? Thankfulness refers to expression while gratitude is a state of being When you sit at the dinner table across from friends and loved ones this thanksgiving, you will be glad that they found the time to be with you. You are thankful for their presence in your life and you are happy that everything has been well with them since the last celebration. However, gratitude goes way deeper than that. It is a state of being, where you feel a sense of appreciation coming from deep within you. You are at peace with the world and you appreciate that state of affairs from deep within. The feeling of calm these thoughts and emotions bring to mind is all fulfilling.

Acts of thankfulness last a moment while gratitude is a way of life During thanksgiving, we get attuned to the presence of others in our lives. We express our fondness of friends and loved ones, and embrace their gestures of love and affection. The gestures we extend are a sign of thankful- ness. During this time, however, the way we feel and the things we show are a manifestation of our state of mind. Gratefulness is essentially a way of life, and it entails staying aware of our place in universe. It requires us to stay alert of the role of others in our lives, staying connected to what everyone around us does to keep us happy. This is different from the fleeting nature of the act of saying a mere ‘thank you’. Through thankfulness, we get to make a sense of our lives and learn to credit our loved ones with the appreciation they deserve.

Thankfulness is a social norm applicable in general situations while gratitude is the special manifestation of spirituality, love and affection It is easy to go out to the store and say something nice to an attendant or fellow shopper for one thing or an- other. This is a sign of thankfulness for something they have done for you. You are saying thank you to a stranger, but beyond that, there are no ties. Gratitude is the manifestation of love, devotion and commitment to- wards those who mean the world to you. It encompasses shared experiences, shared love and an understanding that the universe has conspired to keep us happy, and help us understand how connected we are to others.

As we head into that special time in November, find a Gratitude Journal, and open your mind up to just how helpful this simple practice may be on the path toward embracing and better understanding the sheer spirituality in the concept of gratitude.

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