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What Is the Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness?

Woman smiling in gratitude

Did you know gratitude and thankfulness are not quite the same thing? The main differences between gratitude and thankfulness are:


  • A broader, deeper sense of being thankful for life's gifts
  • An appreciation for both big and small blessings
  • A mindset and worldview oriented around abundance


  • More specifically being thankful for a particular person/thing
  • Expressing thanks for a gift, gesture or good deed
  • A feeling evoked by receiving something valuable

In summary:

  • Gratitude is the broader mindset and orientation of being grateful for the positive aspects of one's life and world. It is a state of appreciation.
  • Thankfulness is feeling and expressing thanks for a specific benefit or valued action from someone else. It is prompted by receiving something.

Gratitude encompasses overall life appreciation, while thankfulness focuses on particular sources of positive value. Both involve an awareness of blessing, but gratitude is the wider, more constant mindset. That said, when evoking feelings of gratitude, it's always a good idea to focus on being thankful to others as well, to avoid getting wrapped up in narcissism over your own blessings.

To cultivate more gratitude, try the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Chant.