The phrases being grateful and being thankful are often used interchangeably as a result of most dictionaries listing them as synonyms. However, there are subtle differences between the phrases. The word thankful is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “pleased and relieved.” The word “grateful is defined as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” Here is where the distinction lies; being thankful is a feeling, and being grateful is an action.
Being grateful has two parts, one part is about appreciating what one has, and the second part is about recognizing where the goodness comes from (often an altruistic act). Being thankful implies one is acknowledging their appreciation for something that someone has given them. Per the old adage, “action speaks louder than words,” being thankful is an expression of words we use to acknowledge a kind act, and the action of gratitude is a deliberate practice. Being grateful builds on being thankful by helping us give deeper meaning to our lives, make sense of our lives and learn to affirm those around us for their roles in our lives. One can be thankful without being grateful, but one cannot be grateful without being thankful.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson