Gratitude or Appreciation?
I stepped outside this morning to enjoy a magical cup of Cacao. It was quite warm out (around 60 degrees) and there was a nice, strong breeze. It wasn’t quite daylight yet and the clouds were beginning to roll in.
I leaned back into my chair and stared up at some of the stars still twinkling in the waning night sky. Big white clouds were moving in from the west. I remember noticing to myself in silence, I am so grateful for this temperature and this breeze… and look at these clouds!!
I became curious again — gratitude or appreciation?
A few days before….
Earlier this week, I spent a few nights in a row out late until after dark enjoying the evenings. Summer is coming to a close and I know these warm nights are becoming limited now…
As I was driving down the mountian from climbing, the waxing moon was in Her crescent shape and looming at me from just above the mountain across the gorge.
Photo by Terry Richmond on Unsplash
She was big and full in her shadow allowing me to see all of Her very clearly. Everything in that moment felt so deep and right, that I had to pull over and get more involved in what I was experiencing through the armor of my vehicle.
I got out on the side of the road in a wide pulloff and looked over the Gilman Gorge. I could see the last light of the setting sun, the huge, thin crescent moon, and the features of the valley below outlined for me in a kind of dusky haze.
A feeling – a very strong feeling – was coming over me. It was enormous and I asked myself, What is this feeling?
A word came immediately: APPRECIATION
Six months earlier
Somewhere in the vicinity of 6 months ago, I was looking up emotion frequency charts. Many of them are very similar, but I found one with some additional emotions listed that I hadn’t seen before.
The usual high-frequency emotions are love and above: love, joy, gratitude, peace, and enlightenment.
This particular chart I recall had additional words appreciation and inspiration above gratitude and just below enlightenment. I remember thinking, Wow…. that’s something to ponder. What’s the difference between appreciation and gratitude that makes appreciation higher in frequency?
Now mind you, this was a while back. I recall spending some bit of time pondering the question, which was probably soon forgotten when I did not come up with an answer relatively quickly.
I was instantly reminded of this long-forgotten question standing at the edge of the gorge. I said it aloud as it returned to my conscious mind, ‘What is the difference between gratitude and appreciation?’
Aha…. THIS… is appreciation. But what is THIS feeling exactly? Where did it come from, how can I hold on to it, and can I create it again?
Where did it come from
As my moment came to a soft close, I was eventually led back into my car to continue home. I really did not want the feeling to end. I discussed the experience with myself aloud as I drove. (So funny and strange to do this, lol.)
I had just experienced appreciation, and what I know from having this direct experience is: Appreciation is different from gratitude and carries a notably higher vibe than gratitude.
But how is it different and why is it different?
These are two questions that deserved (needed!) to be considered with much deeper reflection.
So I first began with the natural addictive human behavior question: How can I hold onto it?
Can I hold onto this?
Of course, I wanted to hold onto the feeling for as long as possible. Nothing lasts forever. So I nurtured it and stayed involved with it for as long as I could. And it did remain – somewhat watered down, but still impressive – for most of the night with me.
This was great because it gave me so much time to really explore what it had to offer.
It was nice to see that it wasn’t just fleeting (though I am sure it could have been if I were less aware). But I also knew I could not sustain that level of ‘high’ forever either.
This was a pretty high. And that can be just as exhausting as extreme low vibration. I did notice that I could continue to cultivate more of similar feelings so long as I made the conscious effort to do so.
I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. If some rotten thought came in, I gently allowed it to pass and replaced it with a better thought — one that I wanted to have. It really was that simple!
I noticed and felt more appreciation for every little thing that came into my experience. I was just at home tending to the house and cooking at this point. It was late, and I needed to get to bed! But no rush, no fret, no stress… Just relaxed movement and appreciation through my chores.
What I learned about the difference between gratitude and appreciation
I first started by looking up the definitions of each word. They overlap in a lot of ways, each containing subtle aspects of the other. In other words – definitions were quite limiting because words only go so far. This was an experience – far different from a literal meaning.
I thought about times I had practiced appreciation to recognize the work or efforts of others, and yet that was different than directly experiencing it. It wasn’t remotely the same feel.
Photo by Ryan Moreno on Unsplash
It was natural
THIS was spontaneous! It came over me as though it possessed me. Like it was shot into my veins and moved with it’s own life force throughout my body. And most certainly, it was unexpected!
It seemed to be connected somehow to being immersed in the present moment and feeling connected to all that was playing out in the environment around me. I wasn’t separate from it, and my being part of it was matter of fact, indeed.
I think I get it now
An article somewhere on the internet had an interesting way of describing the difference between gratitude and appreciation. It’s like gratitude is something you feel about the plate of food that sits before you. Appreciation is taking it one step further to immerse and engage in the essential experience of that food – sight, smell, taste, texture, etc. That made sense to me.
I have never felt the I am of gratitude; I did experience the I am of appreciation.
Gratitude is a feeling in my heart, and appreciation is experienced in my beingness. Whoa. That’s it right there.
It’s like gratitude is a choice and appreciation is a direct experience.
Can I create it again?
No, I don’t think so. And that circles the story back to me with the clouds this morning.
As I sat on my deck noticing and feeling gratitude for the still night sky, the breeze, the warm temps, and the moving in clouds, I realized I could not turn this into appreciation. It was gratitude – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
I was grateful for the warm temps – because I am not a fan of cooler temps. I was grateful for the breeze – because a warm breeze that strong in the morning is uncommon. I was grateful for the clouds – because morning clouds are fairly unusual.
Do you pick up on the common ground here?
Gratitude in my experience contains some sense of duality or friction. I am grateful that I am experiencing this rather than that.
Appreciation has no sense of duality. There was not a sense of, I feel this because of this. It was just… THIS.
Appreciation felt completely and totally clean. There was nothing else attached.
No duality. No this because of that. It was just THIS. And being inside of it, with it, as an integral part of it.
I don’t think there is a way to consciously create a spontaneous experience of being fully present and immersed. I believe it creates itself in the moment, when all lines up just right, and we are in the full presence of a moment to receive it.
And this is my best understanding of my own direct experience. And it is so beautiful!
Until next week, Brandy xx
I am a Spiritual Intuitive Coach who works with women that feel called to create more meaning and fulfillment in their lifestyle or career. They fear that they’re too old, might be making a mistake, or will disappoint their loved ones. I help them trust their inner guidance so they feel confident to express their life in a way that makes them feel happy and connected to who they truly are.
I love, love, love to help people come into a relationship with their inner guidance for making life decisions. If you would like to talk with me about working together to help move you forward, you may reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!