Both these feelings are essential for building positive emotions which
help us be happier and more confident. Each November, we hear a lot about
“gratitude” but the word “appreciation” may not be used. They are similar
feelings with an important difference.
Appreciation celebrates what is good regardless of the source. In that
way, it is different from gratitude, an emotion directed toward someone or
something who granted a benefit.
In over one hundred studies, gratitude has been found to help those
who practice it daily to accomplish personal goals. Those studies also show
that those who practice gratitude daily have more energy, enthusiasm,
optimism, equanimity, and determination.
Journaling is often used as a gratitude practice. Researchers differ on
how often you should do it. Chose a practice that feels comfortable for you –
but that doesn’t mean writing once a year!
Appreciation has many benefits as well and some studies suggest it
has even more benefits than gratitude. Each day offers opportunities for
appreciation whether or not you receive a benefit. The routine question,
“How are you doing?” usually draws this response from one of my friends:
“Any day above ground is a good day.” He appreciates being alive. I do too,
but I tend to focus on specifics like the warmth of the sun, the flavor of
raspberries, and the smile of the child in the passing stroller. You might
appreciate the endorphin rush you feel at the end of your workout or the
scent of freshly brewed coffee. Opportunities for appreciation abound.
In the uncertain and scary world around us, seize every opportunity
you can to feel gratitude and appreciation.