How do you experience the concept of “gratitude”?
What about “appreciation”?
Do they feel differently to you?
We are often encouraged to develop a gratitude practice. This might include starting the day with a gratitude list or ending with one, perhaps even in a journal.
This is an amazing idea.
And I have another one to suggest: Cultivate a walk-about-your-life appreciation practice.
When I work with people, they’ll sometimes say, “I know I should be grateful. But.”
The words “should” and “but” in their thinking are clues.
We talk about what gratitude means to them. Often the answer is laden with obligation and a sense of weightiness.
They do feel grateful for the good in their life, they really do, and there is a pressure for gratitude to outweigh their feelings of doubt, concern, worry, and sadness.
In my practice, personal and professional, I have developed the following loose working definitions:
- Gratitude describes that deep, soul-felt thankfulness of the gifts you have received in your life. Maybe these gifts arrived from hard work or luck or a combination of both. There is a sense of weight to these thoughts and feelings associated with “gratitude” and “grateful.” It’s an acknowledgement of receiving something that is personal to you. When unfettered by obligation, gratitude feels beautiful, grounding, deepening.
- Appreciation describes a light, butterfly-like noticing, an expression of delight that something is in your view. You can appreciate personal things – people, places, and things – and yet you can appreciate that which has nothing to do with you. You can appreciate an alternative viewpoint. You can appreciate another person’s style that might be very different from your own. You can appreciate an experience that is fleeting, such as a full moon or a cloud in the shape of a dragon.
I think gratitude is wonderful, really I do.
And I think that appreciation has a lot to offer people who are working through difficult situations – including difficult thinking patterns.
And I think appreciation as a practice is easier to weave into the day. Oh, I appreciate fun pencils and the way this keyboard feels under my fingers and the “clack, clack” sounds they make and sweet dog’s sigh of contentment after breakfast.
Yes, I am grateful for having all of those things, the computer and the companionship of sweet Bailey.
It’s just that appreciation feels super fun because appreciation is light and breezy.
This week, I invite you to practice appreciation. See if the lightness of it encourages you to do more of it without the “shoulds” and “buts.”
I appreciate that you took these minutes to read this article this week.
I appreciate having this place to share my thoughts in hopes it provides usefulness to you.
And I appreciate the idea of being connected to all of you through time and space.
Have a beautiful week!
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.