If you are friends with me on FaceBook you might know that I have been pondering the subtleties between gratitude and appreciation. I asked people for their thoughts and experiences of these two ways of being and got some fabulous responses. A few people thought that it was just semantics and that it wasn’t necessary to differentiate. I can see why they might think this as both are some of the highest vibrational emotions we can feel and vibrate at. Their comments did get me thinking. The reason my interest in the differentiation was piqued was simply because I am endlessly curious and I absolutely love to explore. Especially when something has to do with energy and consciousness. What their questioning also made me aware of was how we use language and it reminded me of something I learnt when I did my coach training. We are not able to be aware of things we do not have language for - let me explain with a few examples. In the late 1800’s early 1900’s Rudolf Steiner (An Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, esotericist, and founder of the Waldorf schools) went deep into the outback of Australia to an Aboriginal tribe who had little to no contact with the rest of the world. He took one of the first cameras with him and took a photo of the chief of the tribe. When he showed the chief the picture do you know what the chief saw? …
… he saw nothing. He had no concept of pictures and certainly no concept of photography so did not have the language to make sense of what he was seeing which meant his brain could not process it and he saw nothing. Once the idea of pictures and photographs had been explained to him he was then able to see the photo. There are other examples of this. There was a Chinese lady who went to America and for the first few months could not see red hair. She had come from a rural part of China and had no concept that people could have red hair so just didn’t see it. I have experienced this myself with of all things integrated bumpers on cars. I used to live in Botswana and was sitting in my office talking to a friend who wanted to get one fitted. I had never heard of them and told him that I didn’t think I had ever seen them. He sent me a picture and I would have sworn that I still had never seen one. Yet when I went out for lunch I suddenly saw them all over the place. They had always been there but because I did not have the awareness of them or language for them I simply did not see them. They did not exist in my experience of life. So language does matter as without it we cannot make sense of our surroundings which might mean we do not see things that other people do. Language to me also adds richness, complexity and depth a little bit like learning to taste wine, tea and chocolate led me to appreciate them so much more.
In regards to language adding depth to the experience of life different cultures find different ways to describe things depending on what is prevalent in their environment. People living in countries where there is a lot of snow have many more way to describe it than people who don’t. Likewise people who live where grass is prevalent have many more ways of describing it and where I currently live in the UK we have a lot of rain and there are so many words and sayings to describe it such as; rain, drizzle, tipping it down, raining cats and dogs, spitting, bucketing down, teeming, luttering down, plothering down, mizzeling and so it goes on. Being able to describe something in more detail brings it to life. For instance see how the following feels;
I went walking yesterday and saw some daffodils or…
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
by - William Wordsworth
The reason I am sharing this with you is that words have an energy a feel to them I do not know what luttering means but my sense is that it is a fairly heavy spattering rain. The subtleties of differentiation create a greater awareness of something. And in that awareness is a whole world to explore. So the rest of this blog is homage to what I have discovered while exploring the differences between gratitude and appreciation.
Whist gratitude undoubtedly is a high vibrational state since exploring it more fully I have realised that it seems to require certain conditions to be met and for me to be in a receptive space to receive the experience that awakens gratitude in me. I am grateful to things that allow me to feel good or better in some way. Whereas appreciation has no conditions I can appreciate a beautiful view as well as I can appreciate someone else's point of view. Someone else’s point of view might actually annoy me but in the appreciating of it that tension is eased.
There is separation between myself and that which I am grateful for whereas when I appreciate something I step into the energy of it. I realised this morning when I was hanging out the washing. I have a little black cat (Mattie) who loves it when I am in the garden as there is a little hole in the lawn that she loves to roll around in and have me tickle her while she does it. When she did this, this morning I became aware that while I am so very grateful for having her in my life it is still her in my life we are still separate. However as I tickled her I stepped into appreciation; Appreciation for her playfulness, the softness of her fur, the warmth of her body, the resonance of her purring and energy of her being. In appreciating her I joined in with her in a moment of ecstatic play and affection. We were together having an experience and the experience could only be had by us both taking part in it. She wouldn’t have been playing if I hadn’t have been there and I wouldn’t have been paying if she hadn’t. It is the same in the poem above. The enjoyment was that he was one with the daffodils dancing in the breeze. If he had not stepped into experiencing them I doubt he would have been able to capture the experience so memorably.
I have used gratitude to amplify my vibration by stepping into the feeling of being grateful however when I use appreciation I am amplifying the experience that I am having. So by consciously choosing to appreciate the moment with my cat I fully stepped into the experience and got to feel love, playfulness, oneness, ecstasy, and joy in being alive. When I step into gratitude I am able to expand just that feeling.
I also found it interesting when I looked at the definition of the two words.
Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness, from the Latin word gratus 'pleasing, thankful', is a feeling of appreciation felt by and/or similar positive response shown by the recipient of kindness, gifts, help, favours, or other types of generosity, towards the giver of such gifts.
1 Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things.
2 A judgment or opinion, especially a favourable one.
3 An expression of gratitude.
4 Awareness or delicate perception, especially of aesthetic qualities or values.
5 A rise in value or price, especially over time.
Firstly I noticed that in the definition of gratitude appreciation is mentioned and then in the definition of appreciation gratitude is mentioned. They are both obviously very closely connected.
Then I noticed how gratitude states that it is a feeling in response to something happening. So as I said we feel gratitude when certain conditions are met. Whereas in the definition of appreciation it is a realisation, an opinion, an expression, a new awareness of something and also an increase in value. And I would like to venture that this can be experienced through focused attention. I just saw a lovley quote;
“No place is boring if you've have had a good nights sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film." - Robert Adams
I believe if we chose to focus on appreciation we would never be board or disengaged with the world ever again.
I have been playing with the experience of appreciation quite a lot over the last few weeks and what I really love to do is find an object, it can be anything, a coin, a leaf, or even the patterns in the weave of your clothes. And then just focus on it. Focus on it in a detached way with appreciation so that your mind stops narrating what you are doing. If you are able to keep this up there comes a time when you begin to appreciate whatever you are focusing on and when this happens it is as if you have stepped into the object you are focusing on. As I have said above if you really step into appreciation there is a oneness that seems to happen. An ecstasy in truly experiencing something fully without any other filters.
In conclusion both gratitude and appreciation are high vibrational energy states but I agree with Abraham Hicks, appreciation is of a higher vibration then gratitude.
So much love from me to you
In the last few weeks I have focused on trust and it started by exploring Einstein’s question - Do I live in a friendly or hostile universe? I then went on to share how we can go about building trust and I have shared about trusting people but there is more to trusting than just trusting people. And the original conversation was about a friendly or hostile universe and trust plays a big part in answering this question. I have had a very turbulent life and there have been times when it was very scary and uncertain. Because of this there was a time that I did not trust the universe / life / Source. I felt that life had conspired against me and that people and life in general were out to get me, but the more I have learnt and known on this journey the more I have realised that Source / the universe / life is very much like people. When you can see that all the pain is caused by hurt people hurting people and you are able to let this go then there is only love and bliss, but in regards to Source the only hurt preventing a connection is our own hurt and pain. When we are able to let that go again there is only joy and bliss and it takes trust to be able to get there.
Looking back through my life I can see that the only times that things have gone wrong in my life have been when I have been in resistance to life. When I have been scared, hurt or angry and reacted in a way that has only caused me more harm. Looking back on one of my not so happy relationships. While I was in it I really struggled with my partner he would try to control me and I would rebel. At the time I did not know what else to do to try to maintain my own sense of self but now that I am wiser I can see that my rebelling just made my partner more fearful and more controlling which caused both of us more pain. The universe was not hostile I was in resistance to it and to my partner. That is not to say I should have been meek and compliant but there are other ways to be that are not resistant and yet also hold space for your being.
When I have been in alignment and in a space of bliss or love I have been carried along by the most abundant and fabulous stream of life. If I choose not to trust the universe it is like putting on the breaks and causing resistance to the flow of my life. It makes me question everything that is happening in my life and when I do this I start to feel unsure, fearful, hurt, alone. The universe is not doing this to me it happens when I do not trust. I see Source / The Universe / Life like electricity. It does not judge you, it is not invested in what you do or do not do, it has no expectations for you at all and it is not trying to teach you a lesson or get you to do something. It is pure love, bliss and abundance and all you have to do is plug in to it. Not trusting it is unplugging and it is your choice.
When you go into defensive mode which happens any time you feel threatened by anything you think might hurt you in anyway then your energy closes off and energetically you pull back from Source and unplug yourself. Learning to trust Source is learning that even when things do not go according to how you think they should to stay open and to trust that what ever is happening is all part of your journey. I do not say this lightly as I have been through some challenging times and in my most pivotal relationship which was the most challenging for me at the time I would not have been able to tell you what the purpose of it was but now looking back it was only because of this relationship that I am not doing what I love. I call that partner my dark angel because he was the one that got me on to this path. I know it is not always easy to trust but this is why it takes trust. trust. If you knew the outcome for certain you would not need trust as you would have certainty. Trust is only needed when you do not know or can not see on your own.
One of the hardest things to navigate is when things do not turn out how you think they should even when you think you are in flow. This foxed me for quite some time until I realised that these expectations were not coming from my truth but from my ego. They were things that I thought would take me towards pleasure or away from what I perceived to be pain. They came from my subconscious and my survival instincts and not from my truth. My truth does not care what house I live in, it does not care what car I drive or what I acheive in life. When you are able to connect to your truth you will know that it is eternal and noting can ever hurt or harm it in any way. Connecting to it allows you to realise that nothing can make you more or less than you always have been. And when you realise this you can let go of the expectations in life and start to live life as if it is an adventure. Allowing life to flow you rather than trying to be in flow. And this is where trust comes in because you might not always know where you are going or where what you are doing will lead you but if you use your guidance systems of intuition and inspiration you will know when you are pointing in the right direction.
I choose to trust the universe even when I am not sure where I am going or how things will end up. I do not always manage to trust the universe as much as I would like but it is a work in progress and I am learning to trust more and more. I know when I trust life lifts me up and carries me along and when I do not trust I struggle and flounder. It is not Source but me.
Last week I talked about Einsteins question - do you believe you live in friendly or a hostile universe and having explained why it is beneficial to believe we live in a friendly one I promised this week to talk about how you can develop trust so here goes.
This took me a while to “get”. I thought that people / Source had to earn my trust and I was very cautious about giving it. I was waiting for confirmation that I could trust. It is a common belief that trust has to be earned and we tend to withhold that trust until we feel someone is trustworthy. Interestingly this means different things to different people and whether we trust someone or not depends on our beliefs. If you are very religious you might not trust people who do not believe what you do, if you are part of a gang you might mistrust people who are not part of that gang. For me it means that people do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it and that their morals are sort of in line with mine. We all have different interpretations of what it means to be trustworthy so make sure you know what yours are.
A while ago I realised that I did not trust many people at all. I knew that if the circumstances were right people could be triggered into doing almost anything. Through my studies and fascination into how we work as humans I learnt that the majority of people are simply trying to get their human needs met which causes them to react to any external stimulus that either takes them towards something that gets their human needs met or away from something that threatens their human needs. For example when someone is very stressed (very far away from getting their human needs met) they can do things that are quite out of character for them ordinarily. They might snap or shout at people they love. They might lie or over promise and under deliver. When I realised that this is how I felt it made me very curious to understand trust more deeply because I did not want to live my life not trusting people it seemed like a very lonely existence.
Now this is where it gets interesting. I realised that trusting someone was very much like believing in them. Have you ever had someone believe in you when you didn’t believe in yourself? It can be a very powerful experience but that person has to be believable they can’t just pay lip service to it. (I have talked about this before - Building Self Belief) and I think that same is true of trust - when you are someone who is trustworthy and you trust someone they are far more likely to be trustworthy than if you don’t.
Let me explain. Who we are being effects those around us in so many intricate ways. For the purpose of this conversation I am going to keep it simple. I know how important keeping my word is not just for how it effects how other people perceive me but even more importantly because of how it causes me to perceive myself. I pride myself on being on time. It is something that is very important to me because I believe that I am building my own self belief by being on time and I believe I am respecting who ever I am meetings time as well. The reason I am sharing this is because I have a very dear friend who I have known for many years. Whenever we arrange to meet she is nearly always at least an hour late. There was a time when I would show up on time and get impatient because she didn’t seem to care. Then my defence mechanisms kicked in and I thought well if she is going to be late why should I make sure I get there on time. I am just being a mug. I even thought of arranging to meet her an hour before I actually intended to meet her so that I wouldn’t have to wait. However I realised that all of these thoughts were just tactics to try to defend myself from what I perceived was someone who didn’t really care enough about me to be on time. It was my ego taking over and trying to protect me from a behaviour that I thought was hurtful. What I am trying to show you here is that even though I know how important being on time is I was nearly willing to give up all my own beliefs and commitments because of how someone else was behaving. Now in this example I am showing you how when someone behaves in what we perceive to be a negative manner it can cause us to react and become entangled in that persons behaviours, but the reverse is also true. If you are someone that always turns up on time other people realise this and will be more likely to be on time too. I have just been talking about time keeping in these examples but this goes for everything including trust.
If you are in a relationship with someone and they don’t trust you how are you likely to behave? Now imagine you are in a relationship with someone who does trust you, how would this be different?
Trust is a two way thing. As a single mother bringing up 2 teenage boys there have been times when I have not been sure of what they were up to and I had a choice. I could read their messages, spy on them and generally not trust them or I could choose to trust them. In choosing to trust them I showed them respect and I also tried to behave in a manner that is trustworthy. If they ask me a question no matter how uncomfortable it is I answer truthfully even if I don’t want to. If I say I am going to do something I do it to the best of my ability. I do my very best to show them the same respect and trustworthiness that I expect from them. If I think they are doing something or about to do something that I don’t approve of I talk to them and share my fears and thoughts (not always as calmly as I would like to think I do) and after sharing my thoughts I choose to trust them. Even though at times I have thought they might be telling me what I wanted to hear rather than the absolute truth. I think this is a very important point and that is to express yourself completely. This does not and I should say it should not be done in an emotional way but clearly and calmly. There is a deep peace that is gained from sharing your own truth and then leaving it up to someone else to make their own choice. The choice was then on their shoulders I trusted them not always to do what they said but to learn from their mistakes. I would not love them any less and would always be there to support them but it was on them and they would have to pay the consequences. So far (touch wood) I have had very few major challenges with them, which considering they are teenagers is something I am very relieved about. They know I have their backs, if they hit a problem they know they can come to me no matter what it is. I know for the most part I can trust them and more importantly they know they can trust me.
I have had many reasons not to trust people through my life and yes I do still trust people very much. I think there is a difference between trusting someone and giving your power away (I wrote about taking your power back a little while ago) to them and I think quite often we do not know the difference. When you give your power away to someone you give them responsibility for your happiness, love, finances, health, peace of mind, or even your self respect. When you trust someone it is trusting that they are doing the very best that they can do with the wisdom they have and the experience they have.
When you have been able to see and experience the truth of who you really are you will know that you are eternal and that nothing could ever harm you and when you really know the truth of this and are able to let go of all the little or large hurts you have experienced in life you will know that all you are is love. The reason I am saying this is because once you realise this about yourself you will realise that that is also true for everyone else and that the only reason that anyone would ever hurt anyone else is because they just don’t know this about themselves or anyone else.
If we don’t have trust we are adrift, an island on our own trying to survive all alone. Trust connects us to people in a very deep way. And knowing all I do about being human I still choose to trust people because not trusting them means that I lose out.