So many times, I hear someone say, “I am so grateful that…” I have said that phrase myself, but it always leaves me with a twinge of incompleteness. We are taught to be grateful and count our blessings, but why does that process sometimes make me feel alone?
The answer is simple, but the path to the answer was more complicated. Through a series of seemingly non-connected events, I discovered the difference between appreciation and gratitude.
Gratitude offers thanksgiving for what has happened. Sometimes, it seems to be given when you are relieved that you avoided some calamity or misfortune. Gratitude is a beautiful emotion and certainly appropriate, but it is the only way to give thanks?
This question was answered for me one day while I was reading a magazine article about home decor (I know…boring, but I was in the midst of remodeling our bathroom and needed ideas). The author used the words “gratitude” and “appreciate” in the same paragraph, intending to say the same thing with different nuances. But an idea hit me over the head — those two words are not synonymous and each holds a meaning that is important.
Gratitude expresses gratefulness. Gratefulness implies that things have happened or circumstances have changed, bringing you to this place. Appreciation, on the other hand, is offering thanks for “what is.” It does not seek to change anything or anyone…it is an acknowledgment of seeing good in the present moment. When you appreciate someone or something, you are aware of their goodness, strength, courage (whatever attribute you want to subscribe).
Gratitude embraces lack and says “I am so glad I made it through that.”
Appreciation looks at what is and loves it completely.
Try it yourself and see the difference. Look for the positive attributes in someone or something and just bask in appreciation. (Hint – when you do this with your spouse, child or best friend on a consistent basis, watch for their reaction and behavior to change to become more like what you appreciate about them).
The world may need your gratitude — but you are the only one to appreciate what is. Look with appreciation on everything and let me know what a difference it makes in your mood, your thoughts and your life.
Your perspective will shift to love and acceptance, which = PEACE.