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Gratitude vs. Thankfulness: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 11, 2023
Gratitude is a deep, lasting feeling of appreciation, while thankfulness is an immediate expression of gratitude, often for specific acts or gifts.

Key Differences

Gratitude is a deeper, more encompassing emotional state of appreciation and thankfulness is often a direct response to a specific act. Gratitude can exist as a broader feeling, not tied to a particular moment, while thankfulness is typically expressed in response to receiving something.
Gratitude can be a general feeling towards life or a person, while thankfulness is usually expressed for specific actions or gifts. Gratitude is a state of being that lingers and influences one's overall perspective, whereas thankfulness is often a momentary acknowledgment.
Gratitude often leads to a desire to give back or pay it forward, whereas thankfulness is more of a polite response to a gesture or gift. A person can feel gratitude without expressing it, but thankfulness is usually expressed outwardly.
Gratitude can deepen relationships by creating a sense of mutual respect and value, whereas thankfulness is a courteous reaction to receiving help or a gift. Thankfulness is a part of expressing gratitude, but gratitude encompasses a broader, more sustained feeling of appreciation.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can positively impact mental health, while thankfulness, as a form of expressing gratitude, can strengthen social bonds and interactions. Both gratitude and thankfulness play important roles in interpersonal connections and personal well-being.

Comparison Chart


A deep, lasting feeling of appreciation.
An immediate expression of gratitude.


Long-lasting and pervasive.
Often momentary and specific.


General appreciation for life or a person.
Response to a specific act or gift.


Can be internal or external.
Typically expressed outwardly.

Impact on Relationships

Strengthens bonds through mutual respect.
Acts as a courteous acknowledgment.

Gratitude and Thankfulness Definitions


Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation for what one has.
She felt a deep sense of gratitude for the support of her friends.


Thankfulness is the act of expressing gratitude, especially in words.
She showed her thankfulness with a heartfelt thank you note.


Gratitude is a warm feeling of thankfulness towards the world or an individual.
Gratitude filled her heart when she saw the community come together.


Thankfulness is acknowledging the goodness in one's life.
His thankfulness for the meal was evident in his smile.


Gratitude is recognizing and valuing the positive aspects of life.
His gratitude for the simple joys in life was contagious.


Thankfulness is a conscious response to something pleasant received.
She expressed her thankfulness for the unexpected gift.


Gratitude encompasses being thankful and ready to show appreciation.
He wrote a letter to express his gratitude for their kindness.


Thankfulness involves expressing appreciation for benefits or blessings.
During the holiday, they shared words of thankfulness for family and friends.


Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives.
She expressed her gratitude to her mentor for the guidance.


Thankfulness is being grateful and showing appreciation for kindness.
His thankfulness was shown through his generous actions.


The state of being grateful; thankfulness.


Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.


The state of being grateful.


Expressive of gratitude
A thankful smile.


The state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness.
The debt immense of endless gratitude.


The state of being thankful.


A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation;
He was overwhelmed with gratitude for their help


Warm friendly feelings of gratitude


Does gratitude have long-term effects?

Yes, gratitude can positively affect one's outlook on life and mental health.

Are gratitude and thankfulness the same in relationships?

While related, gratitude can deepen relationships, while thankfulness is often a courteous acknowledgment.

How is thankfulness expressed?

Thankfulness is typically expressed through words or actions as a response to kindness or gifts.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is a deep and persistent feeling of appreciation and thankfulness.

Can gratitude exist without expressing thankfulness?

Yes, one can feel gratitude internally without outwardly expressing thankfulness.

Is thankfulness always verbal?

Thankfulness is often verbal but can also be shown through actions or gestures.

Is it possible to teach gratitude?

Yes, gratitude can be taught and encouraged through modeling and practice.

Is thankfulness a reaction or a state of being?

Thankfulness is more of a reaction to specific acts or gifts.

Does gratitude require a particular event or action?

No, gratitude can be felt for general aspects of life or specific events.

Are gratitude and thankfulness culturally influenced?

Yes, cultural norms can influence how gratitude and thankfulness are expressed and perceived.

Is thankfulness a social norm?

Thankfulness is often a social expectation or norm in response to receiving something.

Can gratitude be cultivated?

Yes, practices like mindfulness and reflection can help cultivate gratitude.

How do gratitude and thankfulness impact mental health?

Both can have positive effects on mental health, including increased happiness and reduced stress.

Can gratitude exist without thankfulness?

Gratitude can exist as a broader emotional state, even without the immediate expression of thankfulness.

What triggers thankfulness?

Thankfulness is typically triggered by receiving help, gifts, or kindness from others.

Can thankfulness be felt without expressing it?

Thankfulness generally involves expressing appreciation, so it's less likely to be internalized like gratitude.

Can gratitude change one's perspective?

Yes, a grateful attitude can significantly change one's outlook and interactions.

Is it necessary to feel thankful to express thankfulness?

While genuine thankfulness stems from feeling thankful, it's possible to express it as a social courtesy.

Can everyone experience thankfulness?

Yes, thankfulness is a universal response that can be experienced by anyone.

How does gratitude affect relationships?

Gratitude can strengthen relationships through mutual respect and appreciation.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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