Grateful or Appreciate the Holiday Season?
The holiday season generates a huge amount of talk for gratitude. New Year's resolutions remind us to be grateful for the previous year, and encourage us to be grateful for the next year. Many self-help books promote gratitude journaling to create a happy life. When I began my journey inward I struggled with gratitude. It felt cheesy; that I was being forced to thank everyone for my life. Yet, my life is my responsibility and I needed to begin with myself. What I needed was to see the positive in the world around me, to recognise abundance and the inherent beauty of our physical life.
Why it is important to distinguish between Gratitude and Appreciation
Abraham-Hicks's teachings on Law of Attraction explain that these two words have different energetic vibrations. This resonated with me in the following way:
Gratitude often arises when we are grateful for the end of a struggle, e.g. the end of being unwell, or being undeserving of the blessings.
Appreciation is lighter because it is not connected to anything, it stands alone in recognising abundance and beauty by their own innate nature.
I began with appreciation: I could not be grateful living in London when I felt so manic, but I could appreciate the efforts I put into my life to find balance.
What is ‘Appreciation’?
The English definition* is “Recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” and it provides “a full understanding of a situation”. We use appreciation to remind us to see the value around us and its inherent qualities.
Appreciation is often easiest to notice when in a new situation and we see the wonder around us. It can bring us to the present moment. In the present moment, you acknowledge the good, value it for what it is right then and value its existence.
Psychology research has evidenced that appreciation cultivates:
- a positive mind-set,
- an ability to see a positive in situations,
- being present to the wonders of life,
- improved focus and attention,
- letting go of negative attitudes and beliefs,
- an improved sense of wellbeing,
- improved self-control and life choices.
WHEN TO USE APPRECIATION
Appreciation is vital for those disempowered, with low self-worth or self-esteem to practice. It brings back your power to acknowledge the abundance and beauty around you as being for you, or even your own contribution to its creation. It builds a sense of feeling valued of yourself and, then to the universe around you.
My self-esteem was low and I felt I 'owed' a lot to people who had supported me through my recovery. My appreciation practice enabled me to see what I had done for myself, what skills and gifts I had brought forward into my life.
- Look at something physically in your view and ask "What is beautiful here?"
- What have I done today that was good towards me?
- Choose someone in your life (partner, boss, family) and ask yourself, "What quality do they have that I want to embody?"
What is ‘Gratitude’?
There are many definitions, but all contain “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”** Thus, it is a two-part word.
The first aspect is is appreciation. Second, is that the goodness lies directly outside of yourself: you acknowledge the role of others in your positive experiences. Therefore, the difference between appreciation and gratitude in the English language is that gratitude is a social exchange.
Gratitude builds social relations, whether new or existing relationships. It helps us connect to all life without judgment, as equals in an ongoing valued exchange of experiences.
Research studies show that a gratitude practice:
- Improves thoughtful actions towards others,
- Expands and improves our social outlook and interactions,
- Strengthens relationships and helps maintains them,
- Provides value reciprocity in our interactions,
- Expands gratitude and abundance through ‘pay it forward’ where we do not require an immediate return for giving to another, and
- Improves our social emotions to other living beings.
I realised my transition to gratitude from appreciation had occurred without conscious effort, it had been natural. At an impromptu dinner invitation with strangers who provided me with all the meal and drinks, I mentioned that I felt I had not provided anything for the abundant gifts shared with me, their response was "We are sure that you have paid it forward and will do so again". This is an attitude of grateful living.
HOW TO USE GRATITUDE
- What am I grateful for today?
- Who can I thank for making me smile today?
- I am grateful for ...[list 3 things you see/ touch/ friends / animals, etc]
Your Energy Choice of Word
During the holiday season, our gratitude can flourish or be tested. We worry about who to give a card or gift to, whether the exchange is sufficient or insufficient for the relationship. It can cause us to question the value of our relationships.
If you cannot honestly feel the vibration of gratitude to another remember that genuine appreciation with no expectation for a return gesture or comment can be more deeply rewarding than giving thanks.
Giving: Go back to what you can appreciate about that person, even if it is just that the universe is wonderful in its diversity is sufficient!
Receiving: When someone expresses appreciation towards you, accept it with thanks and do not feel that you owe a comment back. Focus on your appreciation for being appreciated!
2017 has brought Molly and Nid many amazing gifts and changed both of our lives immensely. We are grateful to all of you who have supported us as individuals and in building Omega Movement.
We appreciate that the world is changing, but this includes a conscious living movement that we moves us towards healing the world for a better future.
With much love, peace and appreciation, have a Peaceful Holiday Season and Joyful 2018!
Nid & Molly