- There is a difference between gratitude and thankfulness in both English and Chinese languages.
- Gratitude can be cultivated. Practice mindful gratitude moments to help nurture a grateful mindset and heartset. Take the Gift Better Challenge to practice gratitude.
- There is great power in words. Read tips on how to show deeper gratitude with our words. Gratitude is meant to be shared.
- What is the gift of gratitude? Why is it a gift?
Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.
– Henri Frederic Amiel
Gratitude – a cultivated mindset that
Illuminates abundance and helps you
Find happiness as your heart and mind
Truly grow to experience even more gratitude in your daily life.
Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness
Have you ever thought about the difference between gratitude and thankfulness? As I dove into the difference, I gained greater insight into the deeper meaning of both words. Many of us use these words interchangeably. I did. I still do at times but now I use them with more thought and intention.
The Oxford Dictionary defines thankful as “pleased about something good that has happened.” Grateful is “feeling or showing thanks because somebody has done something kind for you or has done as you asked.”
What I came to understand was that gratefulness has greater complexity and depth than thankfulness.
We have a gift inside of us to cultivate: the gift of gratitude. It is a gift we can unwrap for ourselves and share with all others in our social circles. Gratitude is meant to be shared. Click To Tweet
Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness in Chinese
As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, I’d love to share a little about my heritage language. I was born in Canada to immigrant parents, so Cantonese was mostly spoken when growing up.
At an early age, my brothers and I were taught two ways to say thank you: “daw jeh” and “mm goy.” They are used for different reasons. When someone gives you something like a gift, we say “daw jeh” but when someone does something for you, we say, “mm goy”. In both cases, it essentially means thank you. If you felt extra appreciative, you could also say “mm goy” first and then add on “daw jeh.” It doesn’t go the other way around though; it would be inappropriate to say “mm goy” when someone gave you a gift. By the way, “mm goy” also means please, but I won’t dive into that added confusion!
When I dove into reading articles on the difference between thankfulness and gratitude, I found a similarity. Thank you = “daw jeh” (conscious of benefit received – Merriam Webster) and gratitude = “mm goy” (appreciative of benefits received – Merriam Webster).
Here’s how I interpret it: Thank you is recognition that you have received something while gratitude comes with a sense of appreciation from our heart.
A Mindset and Heartset of Gratitude Can Be Cultivated
How many times have you heard of the phrase “attitude of gratitude”? It is a mindset and a heartset. Gratitude is something you feel deep in your heart. As in my last Gift Better blog post, Each Day Is a Gift, I talk about looking through the lens of seeing the day as a gift. Similarly, I posit that we can choose to see our experiences, interactions, and anything in our lives through a lens of gratitude. Once we do, our heart of gratitude can see through our eyes of gratitude. This makes me think of the emoji with the two hearts as eyes.?
Seeing through a lens of gratitude leads to greater happiness and ultimately joy, or at least that is my hope for you. Personally, when I put on a set of gratitude lenses as I see and experience the world, there is greater joy waiting to be discovered.
Last month, I guided you through mindful practice to stop, close your eyes, and be still. With each breath you take, deepen the gratitude for the day, as it is a gift just for you.
This month, keep your eyes open to look around where you are. As you fix your eyes on one item to the other, take 5-10 breaths as you focus on an object and feel gratitude for it. Or choose something that is nearer to your heart like your health or your relationship with your friends. Dig into your heart and allow yourself to feel deep gratitude. Find the same time each day and practice this for at least one week. I like to begin my day practicing gratitude. I always begin with people that come to mind. These will be the same people I reach out to later in the day to check in, let them know I’m thinking about them, and remind them of how important they are to me.
Gratitude is like a muscle. It is a mindset and a skill one can practice. It will take some time until you naturally gravitate towards gratitude—especially when faced with challenges or adversity—but you’ll get there with more practice.
Power of Words
If you read my first post in this Gift Better series, Many Gifts to Discover, I spoke about the gift of words. I hold great value in each word people choose to use, including my own. Words can be a true gift to others so it’s important we choose carefully, thoughtfully, and with intention.
The power that words carry is truly impactful. On the one hand, words can spark such pure joy that ignites a brightness and feels like sunshine that beams right into your heart. Sadly, on the other hand, hurtful words can instantly tear a heart apart into pieces that feel like they can never be put back together again. As I’ve shared before, there is no in between. Our words can truly uplift or tear down. Choose intentionally with kindness, empathy, and gratitude.
Tips on How to Show Gratitude
It’s one thing to be thankful but it’s another to demonstrate gratitude. Remember, gratitude is showing appreciation.
- Be explicit with what you are thankful for and state with specificity. For example, “Thank you for your time and effort to…” While receiving many emails over the years, I noticed something about the way that people thanked me. Many times, they were short without any details about what specifically they were thankful for. I found that the more explicitly and detailed a person thanked me, the more I felt appreciated. This led me to become more intentional about the way that I showed my appreciation. I can simply uplift others with my gratitude.
- Add a comment on what you thought or how it made you feel to receive. For example, “Thank you for the lovely gift. I thought it was just perfect! It made me feel so loved.”
- Comment on the qualities of the person based on their action. For example, “I’m grateful for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I appreciate…” Why is this important? These are the character traits that people hold. The more we recognize people for their thoughtfulness and generosity, for example, the more they are affirmed and will see themselves as such. This will inspire them to continue to demonstrate kind acts toward others because they believe themselves to be thoughtful and generous.
What is the Gift of Gratitude? Why is it a Gift?
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
– Oprah Winfrey
The gift of gratitude is something we already possess and can learn to discover better. The more you dive into the practice of gratitude, the more abundant you will find it in your daily life. Think about the different people in your life. People have a natural baseline level of happiness and similarly with gratitude. Have you noticed that certain people are more appreciative than others? What do you notice about the people who are more grateful? Do they appear happier? This gift is available to you should you wish to see it, take it, and cultivate it.
The gift of gratitude can be expressed toward others. It’s free and it’s in you to give. When we share our gratitude even for small things, it’s a gift. When others share kind words of appreciation with me, I see it as a gift and something I treasure.
There are many benefits to an attitude of gratitude. It’s a mindset and takes time to cultivate and grow. To learn more, here’s an article that lists 31 benefits of gratitude by Happier Human.[scroll down to keep reading]
Gift Better Challenge
Having a mindset of gratitude leads to greater happiness, better relationships, and overall improved mental health. When I put on a lens of gratitude, I not only see but feel more content with an appreciation for what I already have. The positive and grateful feelings in my heart and mind carry me through negativity and adversity.
Next month, I will share about the gift of believing in others. Until then, here are some ideas for this month’s challenge. Begin to see your world with an attitude of gratitude. Pick one or pick all. Try it for at least one week:
- Start and end your day listing three things you are grateful for. If you want a greater challenge: Do this throughout your day! Start a gratitude journal.
- Visualize yourself putting on a set of glasses to help you see and feel gratitude as you speak to others and as you experience your day. Try to express more gratitude to others for what they do or what they mean to you. Everyone can use some uplifting these days!
- Thankful Thursdays – All year in my classroom, we share something we are thankful for during our Community Circle time. Such heartwarming things they’ve shared all year! (I learned this from my good friend Mark Horner.)
In line with this Gift Better series, there are many gifts waiting for us to discover. My hope after reading this is that you come to understand that we have a gift inside of us to cultivate: the gift of gratitude. It is a gift we can unwrap for ourselves and share with all others in our social circles.
If we have not connected yet, I am looking forward to meeting you. Feel free to DM me on Twitter. Let’s chat! I’d love to hear what resonated with you so you are welcome to fill out this form. I am grateful for your time and appreciate you for sharing your much-valued thoughts.
With a heart full of gratitude for reading my post, Livia
ABOUT LIVIA CHAN
Livia Chan is an educator and author passionate about building relationships, teaching, leading, and daily learning. Her other passions include family, friends, and the sport of ringette. She lives by the belief that in every interaction we have the opportunity to uplift others through our kindness and gratitude to help make their day a brighter one.
For over 20 years, Livia has continued to experience the joy of teaching in the Greater Vancouver area in BC, Canada and loves her role as a Head Teacher and classroom teacher. She previously served on the District Staff Development Team in Learning Technologies supporting K-12 educators. Currently, Livia is honored to be the Digital Content Editor and Ambassador for the Teach Better Team and loves being a part of this family! Her motto is “Working together to better ourselves, each other, and the world around us.”