From Gratitude to Appreciation
Today, on Thanksgiving Day, millions of people will be invited to observe and bring attention to what they are grateful for in their lives. What a beautiful exercise. Gratitude is an amazingly powerful tool. It allows us to focus our attention on what brings joy in our lives. No matter where we are on our path we are constantly facing challenges. Gratitude helps us to remember that there is always something beautiful, good or positive to support us.
When we choose to see the positive in a given situation we are then more likely to see the positive in general. For instance, when someone you know just bought a new car, chances are that for a certain period of time you will be noticing the cars of the same make. In this respect, gratitude enables us to bring attention to positivity and to be more likely to notice it.
There is a stage beyond gratitude that is appreciation. Gratitude and appreciation are often used interchangeably. For the longest time I did not pay attention to the difference between these two words and now that I do I must admit that I was missing something.
Since easy does it, here are the definitions of these two words given by Wikipedia:
“Gratitude: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
“Appreciation: The recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. A full understanding of a situation.”
The way I read this is that there is an intellectual quality in gratitude. I think of something someone did for me or how a situation turned out favorably and I am thankful for it. There is a mental process of recognizing a cause and effect process. Moreover, that process anchors us into the “negative” that has been avoided. I am grateful for you sharing your food with me or I would have gone hungry. Therefor, there is still an attachment to the experience that has caused me suffering or that may have caused me difficulties.
I find it interesting how this definition brings forward that gratitude is readiness to show appreciation. For that matter it is not only readiness to showing appreciation it is also experiencing appreciation. Can I appreciate someone’s kindness towards me if I cannot acknowledge their part and am grateful for how they showed up in my life? I see gratitude as the access to appreciation.
There is something profoundly delicious in appreciation. It is beyond a mental process. It is a state of being. When I am appreciating something or someone I am experiencing happiness and a true sense of bliss. It is like being in love. When I am in a state of appreciation I am in love with life.
Just pause for a minute and play with these two words. Do you not experience them differently? Do you feel a difference between hearing someone saying to you “I am grateful for your company” and “I appreciate your company”?
Furthermore, when you are in a state of appreciation there is no longer any attachment to that which caused pain or suffering. When I appreciate the warm sun I am no longer in the experience of the cold rainy day of the past week. I get to be fully present to the enjoyment that light and the warmth of the sun has to offer me in that moment.
Appreciation anchors us in the present and in a state of well being. Just as gratitude has the power to shift our attention to more positivity, appreciation has the key to experiencing more positivity, to calm, sooth and help us detach from what may cause us worry or pain.
I appreciate your making the time to read these words and I wish you to find appreciation in what you are experiencing and for who you are on a daily basis.