HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The act of being grateful, and the words expressing thanks, share the same purpose. Grateful and thankful recognize some kindness or some helpful act and give thanks for that act or gift. Basically, gratitude and thankful are expressions of thanks or gratitude.
The difference between the two actions or sentiments lies in the response to the person giving or helping in a situation. The grateful person responds in a deeper manner with a gift or a grateful action. In the case of the thankful person, words of thanks are used to acknowledge the event. Thanks may be as simple as expected politeness, part of cultural upbringing. Receiving a gift or a kind act requires a simple word of thanks on most occasions, but there are times when gratitude expresses a deeper feeling of thankfulness.
Ways of expressing these sentiments
The thankful person uses words of thanks with an immediate response of ‘thank you’ or by writing a card or letter to say thank you. Each time it is the words of thanks that are used to show someone is thankful. Grateful sentiments are accompanied by a gift or a physical act of showing gratefulness. Gratitude diaries are journals of events, people and places that the writer is grateful for. Events like Thanksgiving show appreciation for families and words of thanks are exchanged as everyone shares their gratitude at that time. It is a great way to bring family and friends together.
Depth of the emotion
Thankfulness is taken more lightly and often is an automatic response, a learned behaviour from childhood. It is a measure of respect to thank an older person for their help. Family and friends show a polite response to helpful acts and it is considered good manners to thank people for small acts of service. Gratitude goes deeper than just saying thank you. Gratitude is the act of appreciating a very special or extraordinary act of kindness. For example, one would be grateful for help with towing a car broken down on the roadside. The help would make the driver of the faulty car feel very grateful. The act of opening a car door would be a matter of being thankful for the polite respectful gesture.
Traditions and customs
Although different cultures and customs may show thankfulness and gratitude differently it would appear that there is a common thread and similar gestures that are acceptable. Bowing is an acceptable gesture in Japan and accepting gifts with two hands shows respect for the giver. If you visit China be generous with your ‘thank yous’ and remember to thank people for the time they have spent with you. A universal way of showing gratitude comes in the form of gift-giving. It is not always considered polite to make too much eye contact in some cultures so remember to thank with respect if this is the custom. It would be correct to say that the universal way of showing gratitude would be by giving gifts and saying thank you. In this way, people are both grateful and thankful at the same time.