Grateful or Thankful

The other day, I was stumped by a question a client asked me.  What is the difference between being grateful and being thankful?  Immediately I thought to myself, “they are the same.”  But are they? What are your immediate thoughts?

Researching the many practices and benefits that are associated with a positive mindset has been a lifelong interest of mine. I have uncovered many ideas and scientific findings on the topic, but this is the first time I have considered the difference between being thankful and being grateful.

I’m not sure there is a definitive answer, but let’s look at what others who have researched these words have to offer.

Universally agreed upon, it seems as though both thankful and grateful are adjectives used to describe a positive feeling. A variety of dictionaries define the two words differently but with some similarities.

Let’s look at the definitions:

Grateful: Warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or something received. Conscientious of benefit received.

Thankful: A feeling or expression of being pleased or relieved. Appreciative of benefit received.

Now let’s look at some synonyms for each:

Grateful: beholden, indebted, pleased, thankful, glad

Thankful: contented, grateful, indebted, overwhelmed, pleased, relieved, satisfied, happy

Over the past week, I have considered how I use the words grateful and thankful in my own life. Here are some takeaways.   I use thankful most of the time when I am relieved. Such as, I am thankful the test results showed no cancer, or thankful the hurricane did not make landfall. Is this being grateful too?

When it comes to being grateful, I use this term when I think about what I have instead of what I do not have. Typically, this is in conjunction with keeping a daily gratitude list which requires me to think about the various gifts in my daily life. For instance, I am grateful for the great tasting coffee I had this morning, for the cooler temperatures and my brisk morning walk. I am grateful for you!  Is this being thankful too?

So, what do you think…. What is the difference between being grateful and being thankful?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Email, comment in a post, text me, or call me!  I would love to get a conversation started and gather your insight!

Coaching Tip

This time of the year tends to draw our hearts nearer to being grateful and thankful as we celebrate the holidays. Even if it’s been a tough year, there are still things in our life worth appreciating. Consider these two questions.

 As you look back over the last year, what are 3 things you are grateful for?

As you look back over the last year, what are 3 things you are thankful for?


Next Week……..The many awesome benefits of a Grateful/Thankful heart! You won’t want to miss it!

You and your life matters!

Peace and Gratitude,



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