The Difference Between Saying “Thanks” and Feeling Gratitude


A dog owner commanded his dog to say thanks just before receiving a treat. “Say thanks!” he said. Then the dog would bark as a sign of his thanksgiving. Of course, we all know the dog was just barking.

Have you ever thought about the difference between saying “thanks” and feeling gratitude?

There is a difference.


A parent can command a child to say “thanks,” but a parent cannot order a child to feel gratitude.

Gratitude surfaces from within as a result of reflection.

Saying “thanks” can become mere lip service instead of a matter of the heart.

It has been purported that Elvis Presley made famous a line about thanks. My son, David, often echoed this as a young boy when he would imitate the singer saying, “Thank you, thank you very much."

Sincere or superficial?  Saying thanks can go either way.


Not all who say “thanks" feel gratitude, but all who feel gratitude say “thanks."

During the holiday season, we give thanks to God for a great many things, but the challenge before all of us is to be truly grateful underneath what we say.

Don Moen captures the idea in his famous lyrics, "Give thanks with a grateful heart."

To have a grateful heart, we need to reflect. We need to get in tune with the many blessings we have and let those blessings warm the heart.

Otherwise, when we say “thanks,” we are just barking.