Iknow you’ve heard the advice to be grateful and to keep a gratitude journal. You may have even really tried for a while. Most of the people I talk to tell me that they try to be grateful and will even write it down sometimes but that usually the practice fades. Especially when life gets stressful. Which, as a parent, can mean any given moment. Here’s where understanding the differences in appreciation vs gratitude can be helpful.
Attitude of Appreciation
I’m all for practicing gratitude. The benefits are clear. Sometimes though there seems to be a barrier to entry. Gratitude is the act of being thankful that you have something now. Which usually means that when you are practicing gratitude you are also subtly being reminded of what you had to overcome in order to have this thing you’re grateful for. Sometimes the memories of those things may not be stuff that felt good at the time they were happening.
For example, maybe now you’re grateful for your job. Practicing gratitude for your job may also bring up thoughts of when you were struggling financially, worrying about being able to give your kids enough, feeling overwhelmed. Those memories that come up can make practicing gratitude be just challenging enough that it keeps slipping lower on your to do list.
Appreciation vs Gratitude
What if you could still get all the benefits of gratitude without the potential drawbacks?
“Appreciate: to exercise wise judgment, delicate perception, and keen insight in realizing the worth of something”
This is where appreciation comes in. Appreciation is to be fully conscious and aware of something, “to exercise wise judgment, delicate perception, and keen insight in realizing the worth of something”. Synonyms of appreciation are to prize or to value. Gratitude is to be “thankful for benefits received”. Gratitude synonyms include obliged and indebted. So to appreciate something you are recognizing it’s value. To be grateful is to owe thanks to something.
Why Appreciation Matters
Feeling appreciative occurs in the moment, in the present, with no sense of past hardships or future obligations. Appreciation is when you are being fully aware and present to the moment you are in, savoring that first sip of coffee, having trouble pulling your eyes away from the beautiful sunset, filling up with love as you watch your child sleep. So the next time you are thinking “I should be grateful” consider instead trying “I appreciate …”