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difference between being thankful and grateful

The Difference Between Being Thankful and Grateful

We’re all about to sit around the table with family and friends as the Thanksgiving season is upon us. It’s easy to look around and say that we are thankful (many of us do this as a tradition along with the turkey dinner). We may feel thankful for the presence of those in our lives, and glad to see everyone since the last big meal. However, is being thankful the same as being grateful? And does “thankful” adequately express the deeper feelings we may have?

Contrary to what many may think, there is actually a difference between being thankful and grateful.


What does it mean to be Thankful?

The textbook definition is that “thankful” means being conscious of benefits received. The person receiving the benefits has an awareness of a beneficial gesture…and responds as such. Often, it’s automatic, such as saying “thank you” when someone does something nice or helpful. It’s an expression of appreciation for something another person has done for you. It’s more about the act itself (and how you feel about it) than the person doing the act.

Thankfulness is often tied to politeness, with society and many a child’s upbringing conditioning people to express thanks for a kind act – either instantly (with words) or later (with another form of communication: email, card, phone call).

We tend to think of thankfulness as something that lasts for a short moment, often with little thought given to the act again once thanks has been shared. Showing that one is thankful is often easy to do, as it is a surface-level response. Few think of being thankful as something hard to do. Most consider it pretty simple.


What does it mean to be Grateful?

Dictionaries define being grateful as having a sense of thankfulness that comes from a feeling within, rather than a social norm response to a kind gesture. Being grateful, or having “gratitude” can be directed at not only people you appreciate but things that you feel have been of great assistance in your life.

For example, you can be grateful for your car that has supported you as you worked your way through college and achieved your degree. And you can be grateful for people like your mother who gave you guidance and good advice over the years. Both are worthy of gratitude! And this feeling comes from a deeper place within yourself and/or your heart.

difference between being thankful and gratefulGratitude is often much more memorable than thankfulness. It can last a long time. When you feel gratitude, you can have that sense of appreciation for many years. Gratitude often encompasses shared experiences, love, commitment and devotion with special people in your life. For many who focus on gratitude regularly, it is a way of life…a state of being.

RELATED: Attitude of Gratitude

When you feel grateful, you can express it without words or any physical action. And it goes beyond thankfulness, although that is often the first step that grows with time into a lasting feeling. Often, being grateful makes you willing to sacrifice time or money and go the “extra mile” even when no one is requiring this of you. It’s something you simply do willingly.


Why both are worthwhile

It’s not wrong to be thankful and express it. Random acts of kindness, as well as intentional acts of kindness, occur every day…and it’s important to express our thanks for it. And not just because society suggests that it is the “polite” thing to do. Rather, thanking people for kind gestures creates a positive feeling within us and can, with time, foster true gratitude for people in our lives.

So yes, there is a difference between being thankful and grateful… and it’s fine to be thankful. At the same time, we should strive to feel grateful, as gratitude is part of how we make sense of our lives and the people within it. When we keep it in the forefront, we are able to credit our loved ones with the appreciation they deserve. By striving to make gratitude a discipline, many things such as time spent with loved ones, takes on a new depth of meaning.

Try making gratitude something you focus on and practice in a deliberate way…whether it is expressed outwardly or felt inwardly. It will change you and the relationships in your life for the better! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Dr. Sharman

how to avoid Lyme disease

How to avoid Lyme disease: what you need to know

Most folks have heard of Lyme disease. Some know people who have had it. But do you know enough about how to avoid Lyme disease?

I sometimes suspect Lyme when someone is achy in multiple joints or I see a suspicious bite site on my patient and suspect it. We’re in a time of the year when people enjoy walking in the woods, where ticks, the carriers of Lyme disease, live. Not every tick carries the disease but it’s important to know the basics of Lyme disease and importantly, how you can avoid getting it.


How Lyme disease happens

In the US, the two species of bacteria that cause Lyme disease are carried by black-legged or deer ticks. To contract the disease, the infected tick must bite you and remain attached for 36-48 hours. The bacteria from the tick enters the skin through the bite site and makes its way into the bloodstream.

The vast majority of ticks are not black-legged or deer ticks…and do not carry the disease. If you find an attached tick that looks swollen, it may have been attached long enough to transmit bacteria. Therefore, the best way to prevent infection is by removing ticks as soon as possible.


Signs that you may have Lyme disease

Image result for tick biteLyme disease symptoms can be categorized into early signs and later signs.

Early signs

In the first day or two after a tick bite, most people see a small, red bump similar to a mosquito bite. For the most part, the bump goes away in a few days. This is normal and doesn’t necessarily indicate Lyme disease.

If infected, you’ll see other early signs within three to 30 days after the bite. Some people get an expanding red rash that is often clear in the center, creating a bulls-eye pattern. It can grow quite large, expanding slowly over time, without being itchy or painful although it may be warm to the touch. Other early signs include fever, chills, fatigue, aches, swollen lymph nodes and neck stiffness.


Later signs

Additional signs or symptoms can show up if you have not received treatment during the early stage. A rash could appear on other areas of your body. You may find that you have severe bouts of joint pain, particularly in your knees.

Unfortunately, for a long time after infection – anywhere from weeks to year – new symptoms can show up, including meningitis, Bell’s palsy, numbness or weakness of limbs, fatigue, psychiatric symptoms and impaired muscle movement.

Less common, untreated Lyme disease can result in heart, eye and liver problems, as well as severe fatigue. It can even cause cognitive impairment, such as memory loss.


What to do if you’ve been bitten

First, don’t panic. Only a small percentage of tick bites lead to Lyme disease, with the greater risk occurring the longer the tick remains on your body. If you remove a tick in less than 36 hours, it’s much less likely that the tick could have infected you.

If you do start experiencing symptoms that you believe may be Lyme disease, get to a doctor right away. Early treatment can make an enormous difference. Even if your symptoms appear then go away, see your physician. The absence of symptoms doesn’t mean your Lyme disease is gone. And you don’t want to leave it untreated, as Lyme disease can spread to various parts of the body for years after infection.


Treatment for Lyme disease

The standard protocol for early-stage Lyme disease treatment is a regimen of oral antibiotics. Most individuals take a 14 to 21-day course.

If the disease is impacting your central nervous system, your physician may recommend intravenous antibiotics for 14 to 28 days. While this is often effective in eliminating infection, you may take longer to recover from your symptoms. It’s also important to know that there are side effects to intravenous antibiotics, including a lower white blood cell count, mild to severe diarrhea, or colonization or infection with other antibiotic-resistant organisms unrelated to Lyme.

For many people, this is it. They recover and move on. However, a small number of people will continue to have symptoms, such as muscle aches and fatigues. Physicians refer to this as post-Lyme disease and more antibiotics won’t help. This is likely one of the most frustrating parts of contracting this condition. While more research is needed, some experts believe that certain folks who contract Lyme disease are predisposed to developing autoimmune illnesses that contribute to ongoing symptoms.


Most importantly, how to avoid Lyme disease

Avoiding areas where deer ticks live, in particular, areas of woods or long grass, is the best way to prevent Lyme disease. But if you enjoy hiking or do outdoor work, you may not be able to steer clear of these spaces. Here are some ideas on how you can greatly decrease your risk:

  • Cover your body – wear shoes, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves. If you are walking a dog, keep them on a leash so you don’t have to chase them through any bushy or grassy areas.
  • Use insect repellent – a couple of months back, we wrote an article on the best insect repellents. Follow those guidelines.
  • Tick-proof your yard – clear out brush and leaves, mow your grass regularly and keep wood stacked in sunny areas to discourage rodents that can carry ticks.
  • Always check for ticks – be vigilant after spending time outdoors and check your clothing, your body and your scalp very carefully. Shower and use a washcloth. Remember, if you remove a tick quickly, you are much less likely to acquire Lyme disease.
  • Remove ticks quickly using tweezers – grasp the tick near its head or mouth without squeezing and pull carefully and steadily. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet and apply antiseptic to the bite area.

My favorite resource for Lyme disease information is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. This is a great resource, particularly if you get a ​negative result from the basic Lyme disease test ​but suspect you have Lyme and require further testing (note: the basic test has a high false​ negative rate).


Dr. Sharman