A few months back, I had a conversation with someone about thankfulness. They were saying that a friend of theirs doesn’t believe in thankfulness because they are not religious. I was a little stymied:

Do thankfulness and religion go hand in hand?

When I think of being thankful, its sort of like how I look at gratitude- I am glad that I have certain things in my life. Seriously. Indoor plumbing. Wireless connection. Good teeth. I am thankful for these and a whole list of things. I write down one thing I am grateful for every day, and I blog about it on Saturdays. I give thanks every day to the engineers and plumbers and innovators and dentists… While it’s not exactly worship, I do think pretty highly of all the people who do all these things because I’d be lost without them.

But is it religious?

Do people assume giving thanks means that they are blessed? I admit that the word “blessed” does have a religious connotation. But when I just looked at the synonyms for “thankful”, blessed does not appear on the list at thesaurus.com. The list started at contented, and you get a beholden, but no blessed…

So I throw this question back at you:

If you are thankful, does that mean you are religious, or are they two separate things?


81 thoughts on “Thankful

      1. I think it is generally agreed that those who survived the crossing and the first winter gave thanks to God. That doesn’t make it an official “church” holiday, and of course many people who celebrate Thanksgiving do it in strictly secular ways. Personally, I would be hard put to come to my laden Thanksgiving table without giving thanks to the Creator for his blessings. When I am thankful, I am thankful to God; but to answer your question, I think many people express gratitude and thankfulness as a recognition of good things in their lives regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of them.

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  1. Thankfulness does imply being grateful to God for all the good things in life which many others are deprived of. But you can also be grateful or thankful being an atheist or agnostic or non religious.

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  2. I think that someone may have read a definition that used wording they associate with religious aspects and made an inference about relationships between two separate things. Or they simply want an excuse not to appreciate things in and about their life. Or they are simply confused. The reality is that being thankful and following a religion do not have to go hand in hand.

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  3. Good morning LA. They are separate things I believe. One can be grateful and still not believe in anything other than what they see. Gratitude for what one has is just that, and enriches our existence. It’s like prayer. I think one can pray and not have it be to a deity but prayer can strengthen. I am a believer and get strength from that, and I wonder how when hard, wicked, terrible times come, and they do, how one without any belief finds strength to carry on. Although belief in self can also give strength. Oh oh, I have wandered off from your question. Oh yeah, they are separate. Chris

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  4. Hi, I would not say being thankful and religion go hand in hand, I am not religious, but I do thank my lucky stars I have a roof over my head and I have my health. I do not attribute these things to “a god” but just very being fortunate.


  5. Yup, that’s odd. I do understand that for many people such things are inseparable from their religion. But, since getting to know an atheist – with the best and most true moral compass – and watch her bring up her children without recourse to religion, I am even more inclined to argue the toss with anyone who posits otherwise. Having religious beliefs do not necessarily make one a good person with good behaviours and practices. There’s far too much evidence otherwise in both catholic and other christian churches. You absolutely can be thankful without any form of religious belief.

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  6. Thankful to me means being grateful or appreciative. It doesn’t necessarily relate to religion. It can, but it doesn’t have to.

    I realize that often times, very religious people attribute everything in the Universe to a miraculous event from a higher power. I don’t necessarily think that way. Example: I live in South Florida, an area prone to yearly hurricanes due to barometric conditions etc . When one of those nasty storms blows in my direction, I’m very thankful when it doesn’t hit my area directly. I feel like I dodged a bullet. I attribute the miss as a weather issue, not a divine situation.

    However, When I was diagnosed with cancer I did not put ALL my faith in a higher power nor did I Blame G-d for making me sick. I looked for the best doctors and decided To have a realistic, but positive attitude. However, I admit, I did pray for a good outcome. I was scared as I faced an incurable diagnosis and found there was comfort in faith. So sometimes religion CAN be involved in being thankful. . But I was also grateful for the skill of my surgeon/oncologist. And I let him know how much I appreciated his surgical talents. But, On a spiritual level I also decided that reassessing my time on earth was needed. So I am now aware of every little joy in my life and I am thankful to the universe for every day I can experience it. So in that instance it’s a combination. I’m usually very logical and believe I’m the one in control. Yet every now and then it’s nice to depend on “something” else.

    However, if someone holds the door open for me to get into the elevator, I’m grateful for their kindness. It’s not a divine thing, but a humane thing. I know when watching a football game, many of the winners verbally thank a higher power. But wouldn’t that mean G-d favored one team over another? I don’t believe in that. That’s luck and skill. So I’m very logical in most things.

    So no, being grateful doesn’t have to equate anything religious. Most of the time it doesn’t. But every now and then I personally feel it does. And I’m grateful for those very special moments when logic doesn’t cut it and something overwhelming spiritual seems to take place.

    I’m not wise enough to understand the workings of the universe. Or to fully comprehend all the teachings of my faith. But I do know that I’m grateful for LA’s blog and how it keeps my brain focused, even when I’m in the depths of chemotherapy. So being thankful is good For our well being. It soothes the soul. Is it divine? Who knows. That, I believe is up to the individual. ✌️

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    1. 💗💗💗💗 I think you’re right in that it doesn’t necessarily correlate, but there are those who owe their thanks to a higher power.


  7. Weird. Is kindness also religious then? Am I not supposed to be grateful or kind just because I don’t have a formalized faith? This is just absurd (sorry, perhaps this is a little too unkind to say?).

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  8. That person just showed how differently people can view simple things that most people don’t even question. They sound like they are fighting a personal battle. I mean that it’s not really natural to fight against the idea of appreciating the good things in life . That’s a reaction to something you were taught or some trauma. A refusal to be thankful because being thankful feels oppressive to them or has been irrationally understood to be a weakness . I think everyone else answered your question, so I thought I’d throw out my analysis. 🤣

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  9. Some people think of thankfulness as being thankful to a Supreme Being or God.
    But I think everyone can be thankful for the good things in their lives, religious or not. The words “thankful”, “grateful” and “blessed” seem to me, to be words that can be used without religious connotation.


  10. I think if you are religious, you tend to be thankful to a higher power you believe has given you blessings; but, I think a person can be thankful for things without being religious. On the other hand…….if someone feels thankful, they usually feel that way towards someone who has given them something. So……if a person is not thankful to someone or something, does that mean they feel entitled to have everything they possess? Just a thought and maybe playing a little devil’s advocate.

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  11. I think thankful is knowing what you have and being aware it is a result of luck, hard work and opportunity meeting while religion or being religious is something you were raised with or discovered along the way and you respect other’s religion if you were raised right or rightly. Yes, ma’am.

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  12. Separate! Non religious people are thankful for what they have or give thanks to those who do things that we are not able to do. It is a sign of respect that one person is a member of a larger social system and that one person can’t do everything. Not a form of religion but a form of respect.

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  13. This seems ‘thankful’, meaning thanking SOMEONE for something, versus ‘appreciative’, meaning “I appreciate that thing for itself’. I default to the latter since it seems easier and gives credit to the nice cat or good lunch without messing with a middleman of any sort–even easier, I just say to myself and it, “I love that thing” all the time about many things, and it cuts out overthinking.

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  14. The Bible tells us to be thankful in all things, but that doesn’t make gratitude religious. Everyone benefits from having thankfulness. It’s a mindset that helps you to see the good in life, instead of focusing on all that’s wrong. It helps you become content with what you have and your life’s circumstances. It would seem to me the opposite of thankfulness is being a complainer, whiner, woe-is-me mentality. I see way more benefits to being thankful, without the stamp of “religion” on it.

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  15. ummm I don’t think you have to be religious to be thankful. While I’m at it, this is one reason I dislike modern-day organized religion. It’s like some religions think they’ve cornered the market on words and symbols.

    Anyone can be thankful/grateful; in fact, anyone should be, if for no other reason than it shows how much you appreciate someone or something in your life.

    Stepping off my tiny soap box.

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