Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gratitude vs. Appreciation


Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of god wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.
-Alan Cohen

Last week over Thanksgiving, I finished the Lisa McCourt’s book Juicy Joy: 7 Simple Steps to a Glorious, Gutsy You. My copy is filled with dog eared pages where I found soulful tips on imagining your ideal life.  This book is one I will reread. I liked it that much. McCourt's  take on gratitude was especially liberating, like undoing your pant’s top button after an overindulgent meal with family you see once a year. The author distinguishes between the word gratitude and appreciation. Appreciation is like unconditional love. Gratitude tends to carry with it certain expectations. 

-You should feel grateful for your health. 
-You need to be grateful for what you have. 
-You must never appear ungrateful to others who may be struggling with less.

When you have desires for something more or simply something different, you may feel guilty for not being satisfied with what you have. McCourt used the example of money. If you don’t feel like you have enough or your current job does not pay satisfactorily, you could go through the list of why you shouldn’t want more money.

-I am lucky to have a job in this economy.
-I need to be satisfied with where I am at in life and not be materialistic.
-If I don’t have enough money, I need to cut back on spending.

In the end, there is a fine line between your “grateful” self pep talks and talking yourself into believing that your undeserving. When you force these expectations of gratitude, you are mentally focusing on “scarcity” or what you lack. You may be saying thanks, but that doesn’t translate into feeling thankful.

Instead, try appreciating the little things that go along with the thing your desiring more of. If it is McCourt's money example, try feeling the freedom when you make a purchase for yourself. Look through a photo album of a vacation that you paid for. Dwell in the pleasure to spend on a thoughtful gift for a friend. When you can savor the feelings associated with that thing that you like enough to want more of, you will be attracting more of it into your life. You will feel abundant in whatever that thing is for you.

I am trying this appreciation technique with something I long for more of.....time!

Today, I am enjoying the solitude of writing alone in my office. This afternoon, I look forward to decorating our house for Christmas with the kids and making invitations for a Gingerbread House party for my daughter’s pre-school class. Tonight, it will be a treat to cook a quiet dinner at home after entertaining visitors for a week. 

Is there something you want more of? Can you appreciate it?

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