Gratitude and Appreciation: Connected yet different

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” The term appreciation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.”

So, it could be said then that gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows and flourishes… if we’re paying attention. And, like with all else, our goal should always be to pay more attention, and to foster a deeper connection to all we do in life. But, everything is subjective based on how we choose to feel and see things, how we approach our days, our gifts, and our challenges.

Gratitude is powerful and should be practiced daily – it is an exercise as much as it is a mindset and it will change your life when it is woven into the fabric of how you live.

Is it possible to be grateful for something in our lives without really appreciating it? Does appreciation come when we are able to find a deeper connection to what we are grateful for?

The shift from gratitude to appreciation involves being more present, more aware and more active in reflecting on the reasons we feel grateful about something or someone. You can (and will) generate feelings of appreciation just by connecting to your present moment, the person or people you are with, the place you are or even reflecting on an experience you have already had.

For example, it is easy for us to be grateful for a beautiful meal. But, what if we go further and appreciate who grew the ingredients, who made the meal, the time and effort that went into everything arriving on your plate, the actual presentation and plating, the smell and taste, the nutrition and nourishment, and the experience of eating it. We move beyond thankfulness as we consciously recognize the value of this food and what is adds to our day, to our health, and to our lives.

Another way that “appreciation” can be defined is as the recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things. When you stay in a mindset of appreciation, you stay in the moment and begin to recognize the value and quality of that which you do possess.

We often look to the future to make us happier or give us hope. We think about the changes we want or what we are currently after in life, and we think that somehow we’ll be happier once they are in place, once we have settled, once we have gotten through, or once we have accomplished or attained. We think we want more of something… or need to change something to make us happy, to make us more money, or to make us reach a milestone. We’ve all done this – likely we are all still doing this, but isn’t this chasing and waiting counter-intuitive to our contentment? Obviously, we should all want to improve ourselves and our lives, and believe in more, go after more, but alone “more” is unlikely to increase our fulfillment if we’re not grateful, connected and appreciative already. Setting goals, working on new projects, taking up a new hobby and our wants for the future (short or long term) may give us a temporary lift, but what happens when our life’s focus is all about a series of temporary lifts? What happens is we are always looking ahead instead of realizing that what we have for certain now… now should be made into a good and inspiring and empowering place to exist – in our work-lives too.

When we’re always only looking for the next thing, we are missing on where we are right now. Focusing on all that we have is healthier than focusing on our wants and don’t-yet-haves.

When we are appreciative, we bring to mind what someone or something makes us feel brighter, lighter, more inspired, empowered, joyful, energized, and loved.  This is what we have control over…and we should take full advantage.

Everything looks different when you are present, grateful and appreciative.  And the best part about it all…gratitude and appreciation are both simply choices. We just have to choose to partake!

If we appreciate what we have, and live in the moment, we take nothing for granted, make better decisions for ourselves and bring more connection, acceptance and love for those we share life with – at work and at home.

Gratitude and appreciation work together, they amplify each other, and practising and feeling both will change you…and will ripple out to change others too.