What does it mean to be Grateful? And is there a difference between “Grateful” and “Thankful?”
Merriam-Webster tells us that ‘grateful’ means feeling or expressing gratitude while ‘thankful’ means experiencing pleasure, satisfaction, or delight.
So, being grateful focuses on the feeling and the expression of gratitude, while thankfulness is to be pleased about something that occurred.
In practice, what differentiates them both is this:
- Gratefulness is independent, deep, and long-term
- Thankfulness is dependent, surface-level, and short-lived
Grateful vs Thankful
- Gratitude is the appreciation and awareness of the blessings that exist in our lives that we tend to overlook.
- It’s the practice of focusing on what’s good already instead of what’s missing.
- Being grateful is an attitude we can cultivate – something that you’d aspire to have because it fundamentally changes your perspective and lifestyle.
- Being thankful for the gifts and kindness we receive is an important part of this
- Being grateful is about experiencing this appreciation without the need for someone else to do something for us.
Gratefulness is a way of life, and thankfulness is an aspect of it.
Why It Matters to be Grateful Every Day
- It Makes You Happier and Improves Your Mood
Research has found that those who practice gratitude daily have greater self-esteem, less anxiety, more optimism, and higher levels of energy than those who do not.
When we feel grateful, we experience a mood shift towards joy and happiness. We become aware of the good things around us and begin to notice the little things that make us happy.
Cultivating a daily gratitude practice also supports mental health.
- Grateful People Have Better Health and Wellbeing
Numerous studies have examined the relationship between gratitude and physical health markers such as cardiovascular health, stress and inflammation, and pain perception. One study found that keeping a gratitude journal improved diastolic blood pressure.
Another found that people who kept a gratitude journal for 14 days reported fewer headaches, clearer skin, less stomach pain, and reduced congestion.
Research indicates that grateful people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, such as exercising regularly and following a healthy diet. This may be because they’re able to reframe healthy lifestyle choices as opportunities, rather than obstacles.
- Grateful People Experience Reduced Stress
Grateful people take better care of themselves, have increased longevity, live healthier lives overall and are even able to manage stress in healthier ways. Focusing on feelings of contentment and satisfaction naturally counters stress.
When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two ‘feel good’ hormones responsible for our emotions. By consciously and consistently practicing gratitude, we can help these neural pathways strengthen, and ultimately create, a permanent positive attitude for ourselves.
Being armed with a healthy positive attitude builds inner strength and resilience, helping you to combat whatever life tosses your way.
- Grateful People Experience Better Relationships
Happy people are simply fun to be around.
People who are grateful and positive tend to have a wide social network and an abundance of friends, simply because they’re likable, warm and perceived as a ‘good friend.’ Part of that is because people feel good when they’re around other positive thinking people.
Not only does being grateful make us happier and attracts other people to us, but having an attitude of gratitude also contributes to the quality of our existing relationships.
A 2011 study revealed that our friend relationships tend to grow stronger when we openly express gratitude to our friends. The act of expressing gratitude makes problems more easily resolvable and mutual perception between friends becomes more positive.
This same logic applies to our romantic and family relationships. Partners who express gratitude make each other feel significant and valued, so consequently, their relationships become stronger.
- Grateful People Sleep Better
You’ve likely experienced sleepless nights or difficulty falling asleep because of a racing mind, worries about what tomorrow or next week may bring and all the unfinished things on your mile-long To-Do List.
And you’re not alone.
Sleep challenges – difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep to allow that deep, regenerative sleep we all need and crave – is a leading health issue.
Researchers at the University of Manchester conducted a study on how gratitude influences sleep and found that participants who practiced gratitude regularly throughout the day had more positive and less negative thoughts prior to bedtime – which had a positive impact on sleep quality and duration.
When you’ve spent the day filled with worry, fear, or sadness, these experiences accompany you to bed.
Conversely, when you choose to fill your heart and mind with gratitude, it’ll have a natural impact on your mood at bedtime. You’ll be doing your body a favour, setting yourself up for better quality, more restful sleep and an easier transition off to dreamland.
5 Simple Ways to Fulfill Your Day with Gratitude
If you’d like to build some practices into your life, that develop your relationship with gratitude, here are some simple strategies that are easily achievable for anyone – and they come with some pretty significant benefits.
Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
While writing about gratitude in general can be beneficial, research also shows that the more specific you are about what you’re grateful for, the more beneficial your gratitude journaling will be.
A study from the University of Southern California backs up this research. In this study, the researchers found that test subjects who wrote 5 sentences about one thing they were grateful for were happier and more energetic compared to test subjects who were asked to write just one sentence about 5 things they were grateful for over the course of 10 weeks.
So when you’re journaling, make sure to be specific!
For example, instead of simply saying you’re grateful for your spouse, go into detail about why you’re grateful for them.
- Cite specific personality traits or characteristics
- Describe experiences you’ve had together
- Express things they’ve done for you in the past that you’ve truly appreciated
- You can even look to the future – what are you excited about to do together as a couple – and be grateful for the incredible partnership you’ve created together
Have a Gratitude Jar
This is a very simple exercise that can have profound effects on your well-being and outlook. It only requires a few ingredients:
- A jar or a box – even a shoe-box will do
- Ribbon, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you like to decorate with (totally optional)
- A pen or pencil for writing your gratitude notes
- An attitude of gratitude – ready to grow and espand
Every Day – Throughout the day, think about a few things you’re grateful for. It might be as simple as witnessing a beautiful sunrise, hearing the birds tweeting outside before you had to get up to start your day, or connecting with a relative who lives far away.
Write down what you are grateful for on small pieces of paper and place them in the jar.
Maybe one day, you have ten things you recognize, maybe other days, it’s only one or 2, but it’s creating the habit of practicing gratitude that’s important – so do this every day.
Soon, you’ll discover that you have a jar full of reasons to be grateful.
If you need a little mood booster – read those notes.
Make it a Family Affair – You can also make it a habit to get together for a special occasion (New Years Eve, Christmas Dinner, in memoriam of the passing of a grandparent, or something else) where you read them as a family.
Helping your family practice gratitude, express it openly and appreciate the life you’ve created together is incredibly powerful.
Write a Gratitude Letter or Email
The most potent gratitude practice is to send a handwritten note of thanks to someone special in your life or to someone who’s had a profound effect on it.
When you’re ready to do this exercise, don’t forget to be specific.
Give a detailed description of how the person enriched your life and how you feel about them.
If you have the time and ability, it is even more powerful to hand-deliver your letter. Make a surprise appearance and witness the joy the recipient feels as a result of your kind words of appreciation.
Your own happiness from this awesome gesture will likely be one of the very best presents, in turn, you have ever received.
Bless Your Drinking Water
Speaking grateful words over your water can alter its chemical structure and flood your cells with good energy.
Dr. Emoto investigated the impact of negative and positive words on water.
His surprising findings revealed that words of love and appreciation actually had a significant impact on the water.
Incorporate this technique and express gratitude to your water. Feel wonderful energy flowing through your bottle or glass of water as you hold it in your hands. Then, while you sip the water, visualize it infusing you with pleasant energy and high vibrations and quenching the thirst of every living cell in your body.
Create Gratitude Affirmations
Saying affirmations silently or aloud helps us change any inner dialogue that’s created limiting beliefs, which can prevent us from living to our fullest potential.
The late spiritual leader and author, Louise Hay, believed in the power of affirmations to change our lives. She believed that when we say affirmations, we are stepping out of our victim role and acknowledging our own power.
Creating affirmations is one of the best ways to practice gratitude. View some examples of affirmations here.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can bring us joy, fulfillment and a powerful sense of belonging to something far beyond ourselves.
We can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and abundance even in difficult times by incorporating these habits into our daily lives.
Every act of gratitude, whether it’s thanking those who serve us or noticing the beauty in nature, or recognizing all that’s happened so we can enjoy a beautiful meal – can have a significant impact on our happiness and on our relationships.
I invite you to embrace these simple yet powerful practices of gratitude and live more joyfully, and purposefully.
My Gift For You
If you’d like some help creating more positivity and in your life with gratitude, or applying this success principle to make a powerful difference for you, I’d be delighted to chat.
Contact me privately for a Crystal-Clear Clarity Call.
Together, we’ll chat about what you’re challenged with right now and what you’d like to create for yourself. By the end of our call, you’ll have
- A Crystal-Clear path forward
- A Simple Action Plan to put some strategies into place so you can move forward confidently
- Some tools and resources to help you on your way
This is a complementary and private session and there’s no obligation for us to work together following the call.
To schedule your Crystal-Clear Clarity Session, send an email to Yvonne@thereisanangelforthat.com
About The Author
Yvonne Cote, is an Angel Medium and Spiritual Mentor. Following a near-death experience, she felt called to work with Angels and holds certifications as an Angel Practitioner and Guide, a Moonologist, Numerologist, and Colour Intuitive. She’s also a Reiki Master and a Crystal Healer.
She shares her passion for Angels and their powers of healing, protecting, and guiding through private consultation and specializes in helping people seeking clarity and alignment with their life purpose.
Yvonne’s also the host of ‘Angels & Intuition,’ a private Facebook Community for those interested in healing energy work, connecting more deeply with their inner voice and intuition, and learning about what their Angels have to share.
She’d be delighted for you to join her there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelsandintuitionwithyvonne
For more information about her services or how to work with her privately, visit Yvonne’s website: https://thereisanangelforthat.com/