This Thanksgiving, Will You Be Thankful, Grateful or Both?
It’s not a trick question. Being thankful and being grateful are both ways we express or feel appreciation. While the terms are often used interchangeably, many people believe there are distinctions between the two.
Maybe you haven’t given much thought to the matter. On the other hand, maybe you’ve developed a steadfast attitude of gratitude and make a habit of saying “thank you” as a way to deepen your gratitude.
If you’re curious and have a few minutes to spare, keep reading. Here we explore what some, including life coaches, mental health experts, spiritual leaders and – gratitude practitioners — believe is the difference between thankfulness and gratitude.
Understanding how others view the two just might lead you to better health and a deeper sense of satisfaction!
The Basic Differences: Time, and the Presence or Absence of an External Factor
For some people, the biggest difference between being thankful and being grateful is how long the feeling or awareness lasts. Thankfulness tends to be temporary, whereas gratitude is longer lasting.
For example, if someone lets you jump ahead of them in line at the grocery store because you have only a few items and they have a full cart, you’ll probably thank them. It’s a specific act of kindness that warrants an expression of thanks. You might remember it later on that day or the next, but chances are you won’t remember it beyond that.
If enough people have shown you kindness in these small but considerate ways, you may be grateful that there are kind people in the world. Although that gratitude may have begun with a single act, it has built over time and stays with you.
In the same example we just used, when that person lets you go in front of them in the checkout line, there’s an external force that causes you to feel thankful. But in many cases when we feel grateful, there is no external force. In fact, gratitude frequently flows in the absence of external factors. It comes from within us.
The Benefits of Being Grateful
People who are habitually grateful may have a sunny disposition, making them pleasant to be around. That can lead to more friendships and deeper bonds. But the benefits can go far beyond the effects gratitude has on relationships.
In the last several years, research has demonstrated the positive effects gratitude can have on a person’s mental and physical health. People who are grateful tend to:
- Sleep better
- Feel less fatigued and more satisfied with life in general
- Have fewer negative health symptoms, including inflammation
- Experience less depression and anxiety
- Engage in healthy activities
- Be more optimistic and resilient after a traumatic event
Science indicates that when we feel grateful, our brain gets a boost in serotonin. That, in turn, activates the production of feel-good hormones called endorphins.
We’ve only skimmed the surface of the benefits associated with gratitude. Entire books have been written on the subject, and you can find plenty of information about it online. This white paper, based on research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, is a great place to start.
You Can Practice Being Grateful
If you’d like to experience the physical, emotional, mental and social benefits of feeling more gratitude, it’s easy to get started. One may be more to your liking than the other, or you can pair them to amplify your attitude of gratitude!
Keep a gratitude journal.
You can buy a special journal or use a notebook you already have on hand. If typing is easier, you can keep an electronic journal.
The idea is simply to write about several things each day (or most days) for which you’re grateful. Maybe it’s three things, or five, or more. And they don’t always have to be new things each time you write.
You don’t have to write at length, either. Creating a short list every day can be enough to get you thinking about all there is in your life to be grateful for. And that brings us to the other way to start feeling more gratitude …
Practice gratitude meditation.
You can find guided meditations online that can help you learn how to do this. Apps are available to download, too. Or, you can just find a quiet place, get comfortable, close your eyes and start reflecting on what and who in your life make you feel grateful.
Start by doing this for a few minutes each day or even several times a day. Gradually, you may find it easier to meditate longer.
If you find it challenging to be still, you can meditate in motion — with your eyes open, though! Some people find it works well to meditate while they’re out walking. Nature has a way of inspiring gratitude.
Thankfulness and Gratitude at Asbury Village
Our staff and the residents of our community have many reasons to feel thankful and grateful. For instance, we’re deeply grateful to have weathered the last few years, and we’re thankful to have opportunities once again to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.
A prime example is the Open House/Oktoberfest celebration we hosted recently. Friends, family members and other guests joined us as we enjoyed delicious German-inspired food and the lively music of the Waterloo German Band. As you can tell from the video, the event was well-attended, and everyone had a good time.
Incidentally, the occasion was also a great opportunity to show off our updated amenities, including the coffee bar, fireside lounge and other inviting spaces where residents can get together with friends and neighbors.
We look forward to many more social gatherings like this one, and we’d love to have you join us. We invite you to take a look at our upcoming events and see if there are any you’d like to attend.
Everyday Reasons for Gratitude
Residents here will tell you they have ample reasons to feel grateful for being part of Asbury Village, a senior living community in Alton. Not only is the local area (and our community) picturesque, but there are also plenty of enjoyable ways to stay active — whether residents are with us for independent living or assisted living.
Along with our special celebrations and holiday happenings, we offer an array of classes, outings to local venues, group activities and ongoing opportunities to meet with friends and neighbors for a meal, a snack or a leisurely cup of coffee or tea.
As for our staff, we’re grateful to work in a community where we’re surrounded by such warm and wonderful people. It’s easy to feel gratitude when you love what you do every day.
A Special Reason to Be Thankful
Once again, Asbury Village is among the top five communities to be nominated for Best Assisted Living Community and Best Senior Living Community in the Best of the Best of Madison County and the Riverbend. We’re honored to be nominated for these awards again this year, and even more honored that residents and their families have placed Asbury Village in the top with their votes for the past several years!
We put a lot of effort into making sure our community is a place where people thrive, where they can get the most out of every day. This recognition lets us know that we’re achieving that goal, and for that we are definitely thankful.
Come See Us!
The best way to experience the lifestyle and amenities you could enjoy as a resident of Asbury Village is to spend some time here. Come take a look around. Have a meal with us. Talk with some of the people who already live here. See for yourself why gratitude comes to us so easily.
If you’re interested, contact us to set up a visit. We hope to see you soon!