For many years, one of my secret weapons was gratitude. I learned early in my life that being grateful, having a gratitude attitude, helped me to align with my goals. Things were just easier when I allowed myself to feel grateful. I kept a gratitude journal. I practiced being grateful for things small and large. I even learned how to be grateful for the big whamming life lessons that smacked me around until I figured them out. When I was in a funk, I would challenge myself to write thank you notes to people who had helped me along the way. I wrote stacks of thank you notes. If you haven’t tried that, let me tell you that it is a powerful way to begin feeling better about everything in your life.
Being grateful worked for me for a long time.
One thing that I never understood about being grateful were the tears that would come up sometimes when I was feeling especially grateful. They were not tears of joy; they were tears of sadness. How could that be? I puzzled over that for many years.
Meeting Up With Appreciation
About a year ago, I ran into someone whose thing was appreciation. Gratitude. Appreciation. Two words for basically the same thing, or so I thought. Influenced by the enthusiasm of that wonderful person, I found myself substituting “appreciation” for “gratitude” in my thinking. And then I discovered something really amazing. The occasional tears that come along with appreciation are really tears of joy! How could that be?
I consulted Websters and did some soul searching. I soon realized that being grateful involved looking backward. When I’m grateful, I’m not just enjoying the goodness of the moment, but I’m comparing it to a moment in the past that wasn’t so great. Grateful is always a comparison. I’m grateful that I’ve come so far. I’m grateful that I’m not still in that icky spot. All true statements, and all comparing now to then.
Appreciation, on the other hand, means just basking the joy of something. In the same way that a sun bather basks in the sunlight, when I appreciate something, I just look at its wonder and greatness. I don’t compare it to other things that are not so wonderful, or other times when I felt less wonderful. It’s about being with my joy in the present moment.
Now, I’m totally an appreciation gal. And I’m asking you, are you ready to abandon gratitude for appreciation? Are you ready to bask in the joys of your life in the present moment?