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