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Society has instilled in us the desire for more. When we find what we’re looking for, we get a rush of dopamine. The thrill wears off, and we return to our never-ending quest for more. There is always more.
We miss out on the joy of gratitude, because we have a tendency to want more and to be dissatisfied with what we have. Being grateful and appreciating our life as it is, is necessary for truly enjoying it. Gratitude and appreciation can also help to fortify us in times of adversity and strengthen our relationships. By shifting our focus, we can alter our perception. Say you don’t get along with one of your coworkers, for example. It’s human nature to focus on what we don’t like and take the things we do like for granted. We become so focused on what we don’t like about someone that we lose sight of what we do like about them.
In this article, we will have a look at the incredible power of gratitude and appreciation and how it can change anyone’s life.
Related: A Little Gratitude Can Go a Long Way
The difference between gratitude and appreciation
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses” — Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Gratitude is a conscious, positive emotion that can be expressed when one is grateful for something, tangible or intangible. Gratitude entails far more than simply being courteous. It’s a practice that entails acknowledging someone else’s gesture toward us or the good things in our lives. It entails the process of recognizing both the positive and its outcome. Gratitude is simply defined as “the state of being grateful.” It is a social emotion that expresses our appreciation for what others have done for us.
On the other hand, appreciation can be defined as recognizing the value and meaning of something. It can be an event, a person, a behavior or an object. Feeling a positive emotional connection to it shows appreciation toward the thing.
Although some people confuse appreciation and gratitude and use the terms interchangeably, others see them as distinct concepts. Gratitude serves as the foundation upon which appreciation grows and flourishes. That is, we can be thankful for something without truly appreciating it.
The subtle shift from gratitude to appreciation requires being more present, thoughtfully aware and active in reflecting on why we are grateful for something or someone. We begin to generate feelings of appreciation as we become more aware of the present moment. Whatever we value, it blossoms and increases in value.
For example, we can be thankful for having enough money to put food on the table. However, we can go a step further and appreciate our food for its beauty, taste, nutrition and preparation. We can also appreciate the efforts made by ourselves and others to earn the money that sources and sustains our lives more fully. We progress beyond gratitude as we consciously recognize and appreciate the value that food and money brings to our lives.
The power of gratitude and appreciation
“We need to learn to want what we have, not to have what we want, in order to get stable and steady happiness.” — Dalai Lama
Gratitude refers to the state of greater happiness. Gratitude assists people in feeling more positive emotions, appreciating good experiences, improving their health, dealing with adversity and developing strong relationships.
Appreciation expressed through recognition of our good work confirms that our work is valued. When our work is valued, we are more satisfied and perform better, and we have a sense of purpose. Feeling genuinely appreciated makes us feel secure, which allows us to perform at our best. It makes us feel good about what we do when someone takes the time to express their heartfelt appreciation for something we’ve done. It increases our self-esteem, confidence and overall self-image. It energizes and motivates us to work harder and accomplish more.
When we do not feel valued, we question whether we are doing a good job. We may even be concerned we are in danger of losing our jobs. If we believe that what we do isn’t important enough to be noticed and appreciated, we lose our sense of purpose. The purpose is extremely powerful! And gratitude is the emotion that refers to our ability to feel and express appreciation.
Several studies have been conducted to investigate how being grateful can improve relationships. For example, one study discovered that individuals who took the time to express gratitude to their partner felt not only more positive toward the other person but also more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.
Gratitude teaches people to appreciate what they have rather than always striving for something new in the hope that it will make them happier. Practicing gratitude and appreciation helps people to stop believing that they will not be satisfied until all of their physical and material needs are met. Gratitude allows people to refocus on what they have rather than what they lack. And while it may appear contrived at first, this mental state strengthens with time and practice.
How to practice gratitude and appreciation
Practicing gratitude and appreciation keeps us mentally strong. They act as the psychological booster in times of adversity and emotional turmoil, keeping us from sinking too low.
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