There is a difference between appreciation and gratitude. Many of us use gratitude and appreciation interchangeably. But, I want to encourage you to consider this.
When we express gratitude, typically there is an expectation of something in return. We are grateful for something someone did for us. Or, if someone is expressing gratitude to us, it is because we have done something for them.
It’s “tit for tat.” Strings attached!
Appreciation is a little different. Appreciation is very much unilateral. It doesn’t require any outside involvement. And, I’m not just referring to other people. It may not even require a real human experience.
So, if you’re feeling stuck or confused . . . wondering how you get the creative juices flowing in your life? It’s actually not that difficult if you’re willing to set aside a few minutes every day to practice.
What should you practice?
But not just “run of the mill” appreciation. Appreciation that is super-charged with awareness.
I suggest you practice what I refer to as Aware AppreciationTM. As we practice Aware AppreciationTM, we are building muscles and a skill set that will create a snowball effect in our lives.
You may be saying, “I AM grateful. I am constantly giving thanks. I still don’t accept that there is really a difference.”
We can simply observe our world and find things to appreciate. We don’t need anyone or anything, in particular, to practice appreciation. That is one of the things that makes appreciation, and particularly practicing Aware AppreciationTM the way I structure it, really powerful.
It is a practice that stretches us and changes our mindset. As we change our mindset, we find that we feel better and we’re happier. And, this leads to an understanding of how we can manufacture happiness. In Episode 0005 of the Awareness Addicts show, I explained how to manufacture happiness. You can listen to the episode by clicking here. We really can create happiness for ourselves … and practicing appreciation is one of the great ways that we can do this.
Let me share a personal experience.
I attended a couples workshop with my husband where the workshop leaders suggested that we practice a process of sharing 3 things we appreciate about our partner before going to bed at night.
- The first person shares.
- The other person thanks the first person for sharing.
- The other person shares.
- The first person thanks the other person for sharing.
This deceptively simple exercise creates intimacy in relationships and builds communication skills. I found the process fascinating.
We have been in relationship for quite a few years now. And, just like any relationship, we go through our highs and lows. But, what I found by practicing this process is that, I could not maintain a feeling of resentment … and focus on things that I don’t appreciate about him … while simultaneously seeking to share things that I do appreciate about him.
Resentment and appreciation were mutually exclusive. And, I imagine this would be true for many other feelings that nurture negativity when stacked up against appreciation.
The appreciation squeezed out the lack of appreciation. It doesn’t take much to see how practicing this process on an ongoing basis would begin to develop an expectation of finding more and more to appreciate.
As an example, when I have interactions with my husband and I know that I’m going to have to find things that I appreciate about him in just a few hours, I’m looking for things to appreciate. Rather than looking for what I don’t appreciate … which is what we tend to do much of the time as humans, my radar is up for what I do appreciate.
This is in perfect alignment with our intention here at AwarenessAddicts.com …
I use a worksheet I developed called, Aware AppreciationTM – Your Daily Practice Worksheet. It is found in the Aware AppreciationTM Quick Start Guide.
This practice will force you to stretch. As you answer the questions in the worksheet, you will see what I’m talking about. You will be challenged to find things to appreciate that you would not naturally identify.
As you begin to stretch your appreciation practice, you will find the creativity flowing. You will get new ideas and see possibilities that you previously overlooked.
This is intended to be a daily practice. I suggest that you start with just one day and try it on. If you can see some benefit, commit to a week. At the end of the week, commit to another week.
Once you string together 6 solid weeks of practicing Aware AppreciationTM, you will have created a habit that is going to serve you well. “How?,” you might ask.
- Change your perspective
- Give yourself an attitude adjustment
- Focus on what you CAN appreciate
- Turn around a situation that isn’t going the way you think it should
- Create movement in a different and positive direction
That’s a lot of benefit from just a few minutes of work. If you’re still with me, you may be wondering, “So, what is really involved?”
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The Aware AppreciationTM – Your Daily Practice Worksheet poses 10 questions to you. It’s best used every morning but you’ll benefit from it whenever you put in into practice. The questions will shift you into appreciation. If you are not feeling too appreciative, the practice will reveal that to you … through frustration and resistance.
While there is more detail and information presented in the Aware AppreciationTM Quick Start Guide, here are the basic questions.
Aware AppreciationTM Questions
1. What is one big thing that I appreciate today?
2. What opportunity do I have that I appreciate?
3. What people are in my life that I appreciate?
4. What do I appreciate particularly about today?
5. What do I appreciate about a goal that I have?
6. What insight or awareness am I appreciative of?
7. What do I appreciate about my health?
8. What resources do I appreciate that contribute to my prosperity?
9. What am I enthusiastic about?
10. What unique thing (not mentioned in at least 90 days) am I appreciative of?
These questions force you to think. You can’t be distracted. They are specific enough that they command your full attention.
This sort of practice exercises muscles and builds skills that come in quite handy when we are faced with life’s challenges … which we often are. No life is lived without some bumps and bruises. By establishing a regular practice of Aware AppreciationTM, we will have prepared … in advance … by proving to ourselves that it works and makes a difference.
This makes it much easier to reach for it quickly when you’re going through a challenging time. You can turn to a practice like this and say, “I hope this works because I really need it today.”