Grateful vs. thankful

“Grateful or thankful? from English Grammar Today:
We use grateful to talk about how we feel when someone is kind to us or does us a favour. We usually use thankful when we are relieved that something unpleasant or dangerous didn’t happen.”

thankful-quote-say-thank-you-say-it-often-and-say-it-with-meaning-934“Thank you” is possibly my most favorite phrase. I do say it often, and I do mean it when I say it. And sometimes I say it fervently.

Scrolling through blogs, message boards, FB, the news, I am always thinking how easy my life is now and how much I am thankful for that. Some definitions for thankful say that it is interchangeable with relieved.  There is that element – relief – but for me so much more than that.

Whatever financial difficulties I have experienced in my life, and they have been many, often and disastrous, right now that is not an issue. Whew – huge feeling of relief and downright disbelief. I never thought I would be in this position. Still I pinch pennies while spending money to make my life easier – I deserve that.  I’m certainly not anyone’s idea of rich, I’m just at the level of comfortable. And that could change so quickly it doesn’t bear thinking about except that I have to. And I do. And I try to plan for that. I am more than relieved – I am thankful I can pay the bills every month with relative ease.

People talk about their health issues, and again, I am thankful that mine are not nearly so bad. None of my health issues will kill me, at least not for a long, long time if ever. This too can take a quick turn for the worse but until then – I am thankful that my health stays at a status quo I can live with. But I am more than relieved.

GratitudePerhaps I am grateful? Gratitude is a feeling (but then so is thankful, no?) Whatever positive,  good things there are in my life I don’t think they are ‘favors’ granted to me by anyone. Religious people might say some deity has favored me, but I don’t  follow that path of belief.  I’ve made an effort to get my life where it is now. And yes, bad things happen to good people but I’m not sure that the bad things that have happened were arbitrary. I do believe the bad things can mostly, and easily, be put down to my actions, or lack of them. The exception being my less than stellar, abusive parents – THAT I had no control over.

Have people been kind to me? Oh, hell yes. And I thank them, I am thankful for them. Or perhaps I am grateful for them? To them?

I am stuck with trying to figure out the difference between thankful and grateful. There is a little voice in my head that says ‘grateful’  carries a negative element. I get the feeling of subservience with that word; a feeling of ‘less than’.

Whereas ‘thankful’ just lifts me up! It is joyful, it is buoyant, it brings a sense of peace and even love.  Thankful is just a grand feeling with so many emotions attached to it. All of them positive.

Until I can work this out, I think I shall remain thankful and put grateful on a back burner of my brain. I can imagine a time when I shall have to be grateful, that time is not now.

Now is the time to be thankful with joy.

6 comments

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  1. Ranee

    Perhaps it’s being thankful for what someone has done for us and grateful they were there and willing to do it, whatever it may be? Just the thought that came to mind as I read your post. I do enjoy reading your blog and I do not often comment on most blogs, but this came to mind and there it is.

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    • Grace

      The example you give is exactly what other sources have stated – all well and good. I am thankful for my reasonably good health, my financial stability – no one did that for me. So perhaps life status doesn’t come under thankful or grateful? Just very specific material things? It’s not an easy question.

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  2. BeadedTail

    Those two words mess me up sometimes too but most of the time I’m both. I think of thankful as being appreciative and grateful as being blessed. I guess that means thankful is my response to an action and grateful is my response to a feeling as a result of some outside source. I’m thankful for all you’ve done for me and I’m grateful to have you in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Thompson

    Well now you’ve got me thinking which it is that I feel at the moment. I’ve done a lot of contemplating lately and while my current situation is far from what I want it to be I feel either thankful or grateful (not sure which) that I’m not in a much worse position.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grace

      It was posited that thankful and relieved are pretty much the same so I’m thinking you are thankful, (But grateful to all the folks who have been kind and supportive?)

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