Appreciation Versus Gratitude: What’s the difference?

I recently had a session with a client about how she can achieve a state of positivity or alignment, especially during times of stress.

For example, if you are worried about a task or project that must be completed, and the stress is causing you to procrastinate or to spiral into a state of even more worry and confusion – what do you do?

Is It A Positive Or Negative Emotion?

The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge the type of emotion you are feeling – is it a positive or negative emotion? If we have emotions of stress, anger, frustration, or guilt – these emotions build up catabolic or negative energy around us. It is very difficult, in this catabolic energy state, to be productive or creative, or to work effectively with others.

Instead, it is best to try to reach for a slightly better feeling emotion which has more positive energy. What are some better feeling emotions? Maybe forgiveness, compassion, happiness, or gratitude. When we reach for a slightly better feeling emotion, we become more aligned with ourselves and experience less resistance, which allows us to work with inspired action.

But how do we practically do this? We’ve all heard about Gratitude Jars or writing down three things you are grateful for every day. I’d like to turn that on its head a bit, and rather ask you to think of the emotion of Appreciation versus the attitude of Gratitude. 

“When you feel gratitude, often you are looking at a struggle that you’ve overcome and feeling grateful or happy.”

Between Gratitude And Appreciation:

What is the difference? There is a different vibration between gratitude and appreciation. When you feel gratitude, often you are looking at a struggle that you’ve overcome and feeling grateful or happy that you are still not in the struggle. But you are still messing with that vibration. 

For example, when you are feeling bad, have you ever received advice from a close family member or friend that goes something like this: “You should feel grateful for everything you have!” 

How does that statement make you feel?

For me, it doesn’t make me feel better. In fact, it may make me feel slightly worse, because then I feel guilty that I wasn’t feeling grateful. 

If I tell myself, for example, that “I should feel grateful for the money I have” then, that makes me feel like I didn’t really deserve the money in the first place! 

If, however, we turn our minds to Appreciation – there is a completely different energy surrounding it. 

The Momentum:

Let’s go back to that moment when you have a deadline or a project that you’re very stressed about. What if you stepped away from that negative emotion of stress, and took some time to appreciate small things around you?

Let’s say you went for a walk. Breathe deeply, feel the crispness of the air, hear the sounds of the birds, and smell the fresh air you are inhaling. Appreciate that this is available to you, anytime. When you do that, you slowly begin to release the momentum of negative energy and move to a more positive state. 

The Difference Between Gratitude And Appreciation:

  • Appreciation is focused on the present moment. You can admire a breathtaking sunset or acknowledge the hard work of a colleague; either way you move towards positive forward momentum.
  • Gratitude, on the other hand, often involves reflecting on past events and recognizing the role of others in our lives. It’s a retrospective emotion that looks back with a sense of indebtedness.
  • Appreciation is inherently positive and free from any feelings of unworthiness or indebtedness. It’s an emotion that makes us feel lighter, brighter, and more connected to the world around us.
  • Gratitude, on the other hand, often revolves around the notion that we have received things we didn’t earn or deserve. This element of unearned blessings distinguishes it from appreciation.

“Appreciation emphasizes the present and the beauty in our surroundings”

Positive Vibration:

In short, Appreciation emphasizes the present and the beauty in our surroundings, while Gratitude often centers on past events and acknowledging when we receive unearned blessings.

I believe they both have their place, but when we are trying to tap into our true essence, it is Appreciation that has a more positive vibration. It allows for that positive flow of energy which enables creativity and inspired action. The next time you are feeling stressed, worried or unhappy – bring out your Appreciation Jar, and you will see how much more positive you will feel!

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