A couple of weeks ago I was researching the topic of “gratitude” for a book I am writing. Everybody (“big names”) and his brother (mostly “little names”) extolled the virtues of gratitude in one’s spiritual life. However, some of the examples they provided just didn’t seem to fit the point they were trying to make. Sometimes I felt as if they were really talking about “relief,” not quite what I had in mind as “gratitude.” I also found a couple of references to “appreciation.” That sounded much more like my preconceived notions, so I went to the dictionary to see if I could enlighten my understanding.
“Gratitude” is defined as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. The word “appreciation” is much more complex in terms of its meaning. In addition to being defined as gratitude, or thankful recognition, other meanings of this word all include the notion of quality or value, especially positive value. When you appreciate something, you value what you have and you enjoy it. While the two words are frequently used interchangeably, they don’t really mean exactly the same thing.
Then I found a couple of quotes from Abraham (Collective consciousness of Spirit channeled by Esther Hicks) that directly addressed the difference between “appreciation” and “gratitude”:
“Sometimes there are long-standing feelings of gratitude within people that trip them up, because when you feel grateful you are looking right at the problem that you overcame. So when you feel gratitude because someone pulled you out of poverty, or you feel gratitude because someone liberated you in some way, that very gratitude is laced with the vibration of overcoming something unwanted and it is responsible for some sticking stuff in your vibration. Gratitude leans resistance-ways, appreciation leans allowing-way. In other words, they are two very different vibrations.”
~ Abraham (Alaska Cruise, 2008)
“When you feel gratitude, often you are looking at a difficulty that you have overcome, but there is still some of that ‘struggle’ vibration present. The state of appreciation is seeing whatever you are looking at through the eyes of Source. . . . You could walk down a crowded street with all kinds of things that a lot of other people would find reason to criticize or worry about, and you would not have access to them because your vibration of appreciation is picking out for you things of a different vibrational nature.”
~ Abraham (Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth and Happiness, 2008)
In one of his newsletters, Maitreya (channeled by Margaret McElroy) discussed manifesting and why it is so difficult for many people. He spoke of a major lesson that many have regarding the “exchange of energy” for spiritual services rendered and their reluctance to do so because of their conditioning and fear of lack, usually built up over many lifetimes.
“Do not hold yourself back because of old belief systems or your own fear of lack. Give with love and appreciation, and the Universe will bless you with more.”
~ Maitreya (Newsletter #211, June 18, 2008)
Notice Maitreya’s use of the word “appreciation” rather than the word “gratitude” – which he certainly could have used and quite correctly. Giving “with love and appreciation” really implies a sense of enjoyment and anticipation rather than relief from lack in one’s life. It seems to me that he really captured the essence of the distinction in his choice of words.
The important point here is the vibrational or emotional difference involved in the experience of and expression of appreciation versus gratitude. For example, I may be very grateful for having survived a narrow escape from a serious accident, but I probably didn’t enjoy (appreciate) the experience. On the other hand, I can also be grateful for the opportunity to grow spiritually and to serve by helping others to heal, but I’m also very likely to appreciate (enjoy) doing so.
So, what’s the big deal? Only three things: Alignment, Balance, and Allowing.
Allowing your life energies to flow naturally (rather than trying to “push” or “make” things happen), unhindered by conditioning, is necessary to balance your energies in every area of your life. Balancing your energies is a summary term for learning your life lessons, resolving or discharging your karmic obligations, and healing or releasing past-life energy, all of which Maitreya tells us are necessary for soul evolution. And until you begin to balance your life energies, you really cannot achieve alignment (the goal and essence of soul evolution) with your Higher Self.
Appreciation is the embodiment of allowing and it makes a difference when you want to successfully manifest health, abundance, relationships – anything. In other words, it makes a difference when you want to change your life from unconscious living (based on habit and conditioning – your comfort zone) to “Conscious Living” (the title and focus of the new book).
Remember, appreciation includes gratitude, but it goes well beyond it in terms of quality or positive value. When you appreciate something, you value what you have and you enjoy it. In Conscious Living, one learns to appreciate people, things, and experiences without attachment to them. Attachment is the essence of resistance (the opposite of allowing) and prevents you from achieving balance and alignment in your life.
We need to develop an appreciation for everything that happens in our lives, “good” or “bad”. As Maitreya has written many times, there are no accidents. Life on the earth plane is a school of experience where we have chosen every person and every situation in our life for the purpose of soul evolution. As Wayne Dyer notes:
“Each place along the way is somewhere you had to be to be here.”
~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (Spiritual teacher and author)
As Abraham says, “focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want.” Focus on appreciating (allowing) new energy flowing through you (progress, joy, etc.). Focus on balancing your life energy (lessons learned) which leads to closer alignment with your Higher Self (soul evolution).
“Appreciation is the . . . absence of resistance. It is the absence of doubt and fear. It is the absence of self-denial or hatred toward others. Appreciation is the absence of everything that feels bad and the presence of everything that feels good. When you focus upon what you want – when you tell the story of how you want your life to be – you will come closer and closer to the vicinity of appreciation, and when you reach it, it will pull you toward all things that you consider to be good in a very powerful way.”
~ Abraham (Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth and Happiness, 2008, p. 193)
The importance of this distinction is the vibrational or emotional difference involved in both the expression of and the experience of appreciation versus gratitude. You can be thankful (gratitude) for having learned a lesson, but that puts emphasis on the lesson itself which, in all likelihood, was not a particularly pleasant experience (i.e., relatively “negative”). However, when you feel and express appreciation for the resulting spiritual growth (progress in soul evolution) as well as your increasing joy at raising your vibration, that puts the vibrational emphasis on the positive.
Don’t focus too much on the specific words, but focus on the vibration of those words. In each of the following quotes, notice the vibration that accompanies the word “grateful.” In every case the word “appreciative” can easily be substituted for the word “grateful” because the vibration of the entire thought is positive:
“I am grateful [appreciative] for my struggle, because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”
~ Alex (Alexandra) Elle (Entrepreneur and author)
“I am grateful [appreciative] for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties.”
~ James Cash Penney (Entrepreneur, businessman, and founder of J. C. Penney Company)
“It is impossible to be both grateful [appreciative] and depressed. Those with a grateful [appreciative] mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful [appreciative] find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”
~ Steve Maraboli (Behavioral scientist, author, and speaker)
“Gratitude [appreciation] helps you to grow and expand; gratitude [appreciation] brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”
~ Eileen Caddy (Spiritual teacher & author)
I often hear people say something like “You can always find someone who is worse off than you are&rdquo,; and they are grateful for that. But this statement focuses on the negative rather than the positive. You can feel relief (gratitude) for what you have missed, but it is difficult to imagine that you really enjoy (appreciate) having missed it.
I also hear from my clients statements like “I’m grateful that the experience wasn’t worse” or “I’m so happy that the medical expenses were only $200 rather than the $1,000 I was told about,” etc. Substituting the word “appreciation” just doesn’t convey the same message because the thoughts have to do with relief (gratitude) rather than with enjoyment and expansion (appreciation).
Appreciation and gratitude are really two very different things. Pay attention to the meaning – the vibration – of your thoughts, words, and intentions. “Focus on what you want rather than on what you don’t want.” It’s all about the quality of the Energy!