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Gratitude Vs. Thankfulness: Is There a Difference?

How these sentiments differ, where they overlap, and how to practice gratitude every day

Written by: 100% PURE ®
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With it being Thanksgiving and all, there’s no better time to think about being thankful. Your dinner table conversations might even be about gratitude, as the two words of appreciation are often used interchangeably.

Though thankful and grateful are synonyms for each other, they have a few minor – though meaningful – differences. We’ll explain what makes each of these sentiments unique, and why focusing on gratitude can enhance your life and wellbeing. We’ll also provide ideas on how you can practice gratitude, even if it's just to yourself!

What Is the Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness?

The Thanksgiving holiday often shifts our focus to looking at our lives with thankfulness. After all, the timeless question, 'What are you thankful for?' is about as common during turkey time as pumpkin pie. But as other expressions of appreciation like gratitude are commonplace too, it gets confusing figuring out what these two concepts of sentiment actually mean.

By definition, thankfulness is feeling pleased and relieved. Gratefulness is showing appreciation for something done or received. Being thankful is more about expressing a feeling like saying “thank you” when someone holds open a door. When you practice gratitude, you’re showing an action for something or someone that you appreciate, such as expressing your gratitude with a personalized thank-you note.

While both concepts of appreciation are (or should be) key habits, showing gratitude challenges you to find reasons to be thankful for small, seemingly insignificant moments that may occur more often than you realize. So, if you want to be grateful, you need something outside yourself, and you cannot generate this feeling on your own.

If we take a closer look at the meaning of gratitude, it actually comes from the Latin word gratus, which means grace and, more loosely, thankful. Grateful people appreciate others and notice the positive things in their lives. This is where a daily and intentional practice of gratitude can lead to true grace with yourself and others.

Tips for How to Practice Gratitude

Let’s face it; it’s easier to be thankful. We already have typical automatic responses to things – thanks, please, you’re welcome – when someone does something for us. But if you’re a newbie or just plain have trouble practicing gratitude, there’s something you can do about it!

Be mindful of your perception. For instance, the more negative perceptions you have, the less likely you are to stop and practice gratitude. Since you have the power to use your perception to generate a negative reality, by default, you also have the power to generate a positive one.

Always use positive affirmations about yourself. Visualize good things daily and try to maintain the mindset you need to realize that goal – and keep it!

Be thankful for all you have and your gratitude ‘attitude’ will grow by leaps and bounds. Breathe deeply when negativity starts creeping in. Take baby steps to practice gratitude and keep at it. Lastly, let go of the past so you can focus on the now to help move you into a better tomorrow.

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How to Practice Gratitude with 10 Easy Practices

Building your capacity for gratitude isn’t difficult. It just takes practice. The more you can be mindful of your perception and bring your attention to that which you feel grateful for (even if it’s just to yourself!), the more you’ll notice what to feel grateful for.

Brainstorming about how to practice gratitude? Check out these simple ways – feel-good vibes guaranteed!

#1: Recognize Each Day As a Gift
Each day you wake up is a gift and the only appropriate response to this gift is to practice gratitude. It’s also an opportunity to do something kind for someone, improve yourself, or make a positive impact.

#2: Gratitude Journal
Practice gratitude by writing down even the smallest things that make you happy each day. That can help you to better recognize and connect with those feelings. Gratitude doesn’t have to be reserved for big things.

#3: Gratitude Jar
Write down three things throughout your day that you are grateful for on paper and fill a jar. You’ll find that you have a jar full of reasons to be grateful and a quick pick-me-up if you’re feeling down.

#4: Gratitude Walk
Walking is not only great exercise, but it can also help relax your mind. Take time to appreciate nature and all the little things you may usually miss when you’re indoors. Leave your phone in your pocket.

#4: Gratitude Letter Or Email
Write a handwritten letter (preferably) or an email to a person you are particularly grateful to have in your life. Express how they personally have impacted your life for the better.

#5: Gratitude Get-Together
Think about a person who has recently done something good for you. Plan a simple get-together to express your gratitude. If you live too far apart, you can arrange a call or video chat instead.

#6: See the Beauty In Others
Start up a conversation with a stranger. There is nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face. The smallest things make all the difference in making another person feel even more valuable.

#7: Gratitude Meditation
This takes cues from regular meditation, but instead of trying to clear your mind, you try to focus on anything in your life that makes you feel grateful – from family and health to farmers for your food.

#8: Use Words Of Gratitude More Often
Taking the time to say, “thank you,” “please,” and “you’re welcome” and genuinely meaning it is a simple way you can practice mindfulness and gratitude simultaneously.

#9: Compliment Others – and Yourself
Giving a kind, genuine compliment can go a long way in brightening up someone’s day. Don’t forget to pay yourself compliments!

#10: Start and End Your Day With Gratitude
Make a point to practice gratitude at the beginning and end of each day. It can be in the form of a quick thanks, a text of appreciation to someone, or a reminder of what went right in your day.

Practicing gratitude works best when you do it consistently. Though it may seem hard to fit this practice into your everyday life, we hope we got you started on a path to start small and work your way up. Experiment to find something that works for you, and keep at it.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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