Thinking about Thanking

November 23, 2016

Recently I have been meeting weekly with an ESL student to give her practice speaking conversational English and increase her understanding of American culture. Naturally the subject of Thanksgiving has come up more than once.

The first time, she asked me what the word “thankful” meant. That surprised me, since this is not her first year in this country and her English vocabulary seems pretty good. I explained it meant “grateful,” which she did understand. (Which seems odd to me – I would have thought that the word thankful is used more often than grateful.)

(A Google search shows me that some people do distinguish between thankful and grateful, but there does not seem to be any consistency in how the two are distinguished, and other people use them interchangeably. It may be that, to some people, “thank you” is overused to the point of conveying less sense of genuine gratitude. Personally, I consider the two to be synonyms.) Read the rest of this entry »

Does scarcity produce gratitude?

June 3, 2008

Not long ago, on WorldontheWeb, there was a post saying that poor people tend to be more grateful for what they have than rich people are. It seemed self-evident to many people, but when others challenged the idea, I was forced to think about whether, or to what extent, it was true.

Poverty is certainly no guarantee of a thankful heart, any more than riches prevent gratitude from flourishing. Yet our common human experience does seem to teach that one is more likely to appreciate what is scarce rather than what is plentiful.

As I walk about my daily activities, I occasionally remember to be grateful for the wonderful blessing of legs that work. Back in the fall of 1984, after weeks of struggling to get around on crutches, I found it marvelous to simply be able to walk normally again. Now I have to make an effort to appreciate that ability.

Read the rest of this entry »