Earlier in life, I expressed a lot of gratitude. I was always grateful to this person and that person, grateful for this, grateful for that. Much of it was worth being grateful for. I never went to bed hungry. I had a warm house (and I lived in a cold country) My mother was alive! I had a few friends whose mother had died, so I was very grateful that my mother hadn’t died and grateful she was in the kitchen cooking the dinner and in the laundry washing the clothes. Haha
Later in life after my children were born, I was grateful at the end of each day that their mother hadn’t died! I must have been orphaned in a previous life as I considered ‘being motherless’ the greatest tragedy that could befall someone. Having a mother was top of my gratitude list you might say.
Eventually after my children were grown, I had to find something new for the top of my list. I mean I was still grateful that my children had not been made motherless but it just wasn’t as important once they were out on their own.
So I started a gratitude journal. Every night I would write down something I was grateful for during that day. I had the gratitude thing nailed. I was always able to find something new to be grateful for.
Then a few years ago, I was in a bit of a funk. I can’t remember the details but I do remember it had something to do with embracing myself as a woman, specifically a maturing (read ageing) woman. I went for an esoteric healing session. About half way through the session the practitioner suggested that it would be beneficial to develop more appreciation of myself. I couldn’t actually think of anything in that session to appreciate so she gave me the homework of writing down three things I appreciated about myself at the end of every day.
I found self-appreciation very confronting. I’m from that generation who was taught not to think too highly of themselves (being conceited was a very bad thing). I was taught to always put others before myself. Never, ever big note yourself. It was a struggle to think of even one thing in the beginning. Some of the things I wrote, I didn’t actually believe but I was trying them on to see how it felt. But – six weeks later, I was overflowing with appreciation and that’s when I realised the difference between appreciation and gratitude.
Appreciation is an honouring, of self or another. I can actually ‘feel’ appreciation in my body, there is a physical sensation. It’s like it is built into my divine particles. When I am feeling appreciation there is a warmth, a tingling.
Gratitude is being grateful for something which feels outside of yourself. To me, gratitude feels like I am giving away my power to another. I’m grateful that something has been given to me and in that I feel lesser than whoever gave me whatever it is I’m grateful for. This plays out even when being grateful to God for what has been given to me in life, which doesn’t acknowledge my role, my integrity, my karma in bringing the good result into my life.
The foundational quality of self-acceptance is part of true appreciation. We have to accept ourselves, we have to accept our warts (mistakes) and our gloriousness (our unalienable birthright), always there will be both.
Many people, me included, have been uncomfortable with praise or compliments. We were somehow taught or programmed to dismiss the praise – “Oh I didn’t sing that well tonight” knowing full well that we rocked it and shown how to counter the compliment – “What this old thing?” It’s no wonder that self-appreciation feels foreign at first.
As we practise appreciation, learning to accept and appreciate ourselves, we will naturally feel the expansion within ourselves. There is evolution offered through the gentle quiet revolution of appreciation over gratitude.
Are you ready to start your own experiment in the Science of Appreciation?
Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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