Gratitude definition / Gratitude meaning
(appreciation, thankfulness, being thankful for and the many other beautiful ways of expressing the feeling of gratitude).
Let’s start this trip down the rabbit hole with a simple “thanks”.
Thanks definition / thanks meaning (1):
- an expression of appreciation or gratitude or an acknowledgment of services or favours given
Ok, cool. An expression of appreciation or gratitude. Got it. The thing I do when someone gives me an umbrella in the rain or lets my car into the traffic: I say thanks. Because I am nice like that and my mother ensured that I knew these things.
So what is the definition of appreciation and Gratitude that I am expressing with my highly polished and sincere “thank you”?
Appreciation definition/ appreciation meaning (2)
- thanks or gratitude
- assessment of the true worth or value of persons or things
- perceptive recognition of qualities, as in art
- an increase in value, as of goods or property
- a written review of a book, etc, esp when favourable (like reviewing The Gratitude Papers! Thank you!).
Ok……. it’s thanks or gratitude….that is defined as ….er……appreciation…which is defined as thanks and gratitude. Hum……. Is it me, or are we starting to go around in circles here?
Ok, last chance….. (although I really hate to ask) …….. dear Collins Dictionary, how do you define “gratitude”? (crosses fingers for something that makes sense)……
Gratitude Definition/ Gratitude Meaning (3)
1. a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favours
(Sound of head hitting the desk!)
This sense of frustration is why I would guess you are reading this article: you are searching for more understanding and clarity regarding gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness. What exactly are they?
Lets start with what they are not (and hold on, I might be stepping into controversial territory!)
Thankfulness and gratitude is not being polite!
Yes, it is nice when I say “thank you” when someone in a crowd holds the door so I don’t get hit in the face. That’s being polite, getting around in society and being a nice human being….
It’s not the essence and being of thankfulness and gratitude. It is something you mutter, a bit like the British muttering ‘sorry’ as they try to walk down a busy street without bumping into anyone! It is something that your parents taught you at an early age: to say your please and thank yous. Most of us learnt to say them on command, often with an added eye roll for effect! (See “How you are faking Gratitude” blogpost for more)
Thankfulness and gratitude are not “Shoulds”
The moment that we wander off into the “should” category, we are endanger of completely misunderstanding gratitude. Gratitude, the real McCoy, is never ever a ‘should’. It is not weighed down with obligation and forced from us with guilt. In these situations we may express our gratitude to keep the peace, but they are hardly heartfelt.
Gratitude meaning/ Gratitude definition:
lets go back to the Latin!
(as you do!)
To get more to the heart of the meaning and definition of gratitude, we need to go to the latin roots of the word. ‘Grate’ stems from the Latin “gratus” meaning pleasing, agreeable, dear, beloved and thankful. It has roots that are even earlier than Latin, and thus can be seen in the Proto-Indo-European language and mean “to welcome, greet, praise”, Sanskrit गृणाति (gṛṇā́ti, “to praise”), Old Church Slavonic жрьти (žrĭti) and Old Prussian girtwei (“to praise”) (4). In the mid-century, it appeared as “grateful” meaning “pleasing to the mind” as well as “full of gratitude, disposed to repay favours bestowed” (5).
In these multiple definitions another meaning can start to make itself known. It has a whole different favour than the chocking hold of politeness and obligation. It speaks of pleasing, beloved, to praise, to welcome. Can you feel the difference in these terms? They feel light and joyful. Gratitude is a natural feeling that rises up within us when we experience something pleasing that appears in our world. It is the internal “WoW!” that escapes our lips and spills into the world as an expression of wonder. It is warm and from the heart. It is a natural expression of our true nature when we look beyond the confines of our thinking about the world; when we truly see the world as it is: we cannot help but express gratitude.
I would love to hear what gratitude means to you. Post a comment in the box below.
If you want to know more about gratitude and how the experience of daily gratitude can lift your experience of life, listen to the series of audios meditations below, that will lead you deeper into the gratitude experience.
If you want to explore the meaning of gratitude quotes in more depth, you have a wonderfully supportive group over at Facebook called Get the Gratitude. Come join us!