Sometimes I feel people overdo the word thanks. Yes, it is a good courtesy word but, if you say, for example, “No, thanks”, is that better than plain “No”?
It feels to me like: “No, please no, please get out, stop that”. As in: “No, thanks, not interested, shut down, disappear”. It is what your mind replies to the window that opens in a website that begs you to subscribe to a newsletter. You close that window, that screen, and think: “No, thanks”. In places like Sydney (Australia), everyone says “thank you” to the bus driver when they get off the bus. Initially I was not sure of it, but after a while it stuck. Now, every time I get off the bus the word comes to my mind. Every time someone holds the door for me, I say thank you (many times in my mind).
In Denmark, maybe because it is cold and danes are constantly in energy saving/low battery mode, or maybe because people avoid being an unwanted/ awkward/ intrusive person , or maybe because they are just shy, most times you save your “thanks”. I find myself with the word in the air, like when you give your hi 5 to the air, a hand shake to someone ignoring it, a definite no-no. And you are there hanging, thinking: OK.
But when I feel really grateful I say it with my eyes. The eye contact is real, and it would feel like the smile in my eyes is the smile in their eyes. When they are grateful, it is downright true, no customer service mechanical tone, sometimes even no words.
So, grateful or thankful?
In danish, both words are translated as taknemmelig. The feeling of being grateful is contained in Hygge- the feeling.
In english, the two words are used randomly for the same thing, but I always felt them very different. Maybe because my first language is spanish and “gracias” (“thank you” in spanish), is a state of mind, a feeling. It is something you are.
David Steindl-Rast describes the difference between thankfulness and gratefulness. “In a moment of gratefulness, you do not discriminate. You fully accept the whole of this given universe, as you are fully one with the whole,” he writes. “In the very next moment, when the fullness of gratitude overflows into thanksgiving, the oneness you were experiencing is breaking up. Now you are beginning to think in terms of giver, gift and receiver. Gratefulness turns into thankfulness. This is a different fullness. A moment ago you were fully aware; now you are thoughtful. Gratefulness is full awareness; thankfulness is thoughtfulness.”
And it is “thanks” the word that comes to mind when you are faced to the physicality of gratefulness. You could say: I am grateful for (insert action here or the name of the person), but the word “thanks” is the one bringing the universal feeling into a physical state. It is there in the hand that shakes the other, in the mouth that kisses, in the arms that hug.
So say “thanks” and be grateful. Then you are talking. Thankful is good. It means you are Full of “thanks” to give away. But bring the feeling of gratefulness when you say it.
Say thank you as in: what you do means a lot to me. As in: I will remember this. As in: I will remember you.
And be grateful for friends turned family, anger turned strategy, for being whole, loved. For life.
This is Natalie Patterson. (Thank you Natalie).
Disclaimer/ Nerdy facts/ Etymologies:
Grateful comes from Latin gratia “favor, esteem, regard; pleasing quality, good will, gratitude”. It often expresses the feeling and the readiness to manifest the feeling by acts, even a long time after the rendering of the favor; thankful refers to the immediate acknowledgment of the favor by words. [Century Dictionary].
Thanks is Related phonetically to think (as song is to sing); Related to Old English noun þanc, þonc, originally “thought,” but by c. 1000 “good thoughts, gratitude.”[http://www.etymonline.com/]
See here what it is for danes:
It made me smile.