Don’t Just Be Thankful…Be Grateful!

One of my mentors suggested that there is a difference between being thankful and being grateful.  He said that being thankful is appreciating something you already have, while being grateful is appreciating something you have not yet received, but have faith is coming.

Although the dictionary does not distinguish between the two, I like this way of looking at them.  I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends; I am grateful for all the great people I am going to meet.  I am thankful for my beautiful home; I am grateful for my three bedroom, oceanfront condo at the Jersey shore.  I am thankful for my coaching practice: I am grateful for international speaking engagements.  I’m sure you get the idea.

Being in a state of gratitude keeps us mentally and emotionally connected to our goals.  It sends out a very different vibration than if we think “I want it, but I don’t have it yet.”  When we think this way, the dominant vibration is one of “not having” rather than the faith that it is coming.

So last week, as we sat down to a delicious turkey dinner, I did something a little different at the start of the meal.  Rather than say the usual “God, thank you for this delicious meal and…yadda, yadda, yadda” I asked everyone to express gratitude for something they very much wanted, but didn’t quite have yet.  It was kind of fun.  One person said they were grateful for all the crazy people at work who would be resigning.  Someone else said they were grateful for the wonderful caregivers who were going to take care of their aging parents.  And someone (not mentioning names) said they were grateful for the good grades they were going to receive this semester (which made me just a little nervous, person whose name I’m not mentioning)

So what do you think about being grateful for something which you don’t quite have yet, as opposed to being thankful for what you do  have?    When you think of a goal, do you ever feel grateful for it coming, or do you think “I will be grateful when it gets here.”  Do you think there is a difference?

Give it a try~ think of something you really want to have or do or be.  Then try feeling gratitude for having it; try to feel how you will feel when you do have it.  Do you notice a difference?

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  1. Linda, this line made me laugh out loud: “Someone else said they were grateful for the wonderful caregivers who were going to take care of their aging parents.” I am assuming one of your children said it, only because one of mine would have.”
    Last year I had to have some surgery, and I never had surgery before, and I was really nervous. I asked my oldest son to take me so my husband wouldn’t have to take a day off work, I didn’t want to waste a vacation day for that. Anyway, when I asked my son to take me, he said, “do I get to talk to the Dr. first?” I asked, “why?” He said, “I just want to know where the plug is that I may have to pull.” I am thankful my husband had vacation days and could be there with me during my surgery.

  2. This is a great idea Linda!
    I am a big believer in vision books and utilizing the way you clearly identified the difference between being thankful and being grateful would be very helpful with them.

    • Thank you, Edie. I’m curious about visions books~ I’ve used vision boards and vision boxes, but never a book. How do they work?

    • I agree, Christie~ it is REALLY hard to be grateful for something you don’t yet have, but with practice it gets easier AND the vibration attached to that gratitude does some amazing things. 🙂

  3. Linda,
    What an awesome post and what great timing on this topic. As you know, on our goal cards we have, I’m so happy and grateful now that….and then you fill in the blank. Thanks for reminding me about being grateful besides just being thankful.


    • My pleasure Mike, and thank YOU for the reminder of what we write on our goal cards. I don’t think I realized, until just now, how deliberate that word is…to get us to think of the future goal as a present…..present! Profound!

  4. Hi Linda,
    I love anyone who speaks and writes about expressing Gratitude.
    I write this from a fantastic German hotel lobby surrounded by Japanese tourists 🙂

    I am so extremely thankful for all of the wonderful hospitality that I have received from the German people over the last three days and I am so, so grateful to receive the warm welcome when I come back again early next year.

    I hold the belief that expressing continual Gratitude ‘hooks us up’ with Source, Infinite Intelligence, GOD, etc.. and it should be something that all of us turn into a PERMANENT habit. We (usually!!) say thanks when someone holds a door open for us, buys us a present, makes us a cup of tea…so why not say thanks for the beautiful ‘Life’ experiences we have been blessed with and all the fine things we have ahead of us.

    Let’s get you really expressing gratitude for that International speaking engagement and see you over here soon. Venus is waiting to meet you 😉

    RCH 😉

  5. Thank you Robert. So glad you are enjoying your visit with Bob Proctor in Germany~I saw some pictures! And I am holding the vision of holding Venus…in your country. I like it! 🙂

  6. Hi Linda, terrific post as always. As you alluded to, I don’t really see a difference between being thankful for something and having gratitude for something, and not sure the two words need to be used for different things. Of course, if it helps someone in their own personal clarification process, that’s certainly cool. I believe that being thankful, appreciating something and having gratitude for that which we already have as well as for that we desire is key to a successful and happy life. Wallace Wattles devoted an entire chapter to this in his classic, “The Science of Getting Rich” and he certainly agrees with your excellent teaching. Thank you again. I am thankful for your current friendship, and have gratitude for how our friendship will continue to grow (and, I appreciate it, too) 😉

    • Thanks Bob, for your always blog-enhancing comment. I tend to agree that the words are interchangeable, and making a distinction is simply a way to clarify in one’s own mind, the fact that we can (and should!) be thankful, grateful, appreciative for the things we don’t yet have. Thinking of them in that context just adds some fire to the flame. The Science of Getting Rich is one of my all-time favorite books, and the chapter on Gratitude is my favorite chapter in that book. And me too on the thankful AND grateful sentiments on our friendship. 🙂

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