What’s the Difference between Gratitude and Appreciation?

What’s the Difference between Gratitude and Appreciation?

Ugh! I exclaimed as I let the car waiting to turn go and didn’t receive the expected “courtesy wave” as a sign of appreciation. Should I have been so irritated? Would it have better for me to be more understanding not knowing there situation or even grateful that I had a safe trip?

To the average individual it is difficult to discern between gratitude and appreciation.  Most go with the more literal definitions and believe it is simply being thankful to another. This is true in part, however to clearly understand both you need to examine how each relates not only to yourself but to others. 

Appreciation is more of a surface level feeling in that it has a limited time effect on you and others. Meaning, you and others typically only experience it for a short time.  Think- a stranger holding the door open for you at the coffee shop as you show your appreciation by casually thanking them or a co-worker offering kudos leading to your quick response, “Thanks, I appreciate that.”  In instances like these you appreciate the act and recognize it but don’t continue paying it any further attention.

Gratitude however is a much deeper emotion. It is something you feel mentally, spiritually, and even physically at the deepest level.  It can have a profound effect on both yourself and others. When you practice gratitude you spread positivity that permeates your whole being.  This viral nature allows it to impact various areas of your life and the lives of others around you.  And not just those you are close with but everyone you come in contact with.

Take a similar situation to the one above where you go to the coffee shop for your morning coffee as a person who regularly practices gratitude.  The effects are instantly noticeable as everything has more meaning. The barista smiles as she remembers your order from the day before which makes you feel grateful both for her as a person and for being there in the situation. While you are leaving you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in months who comments on how radiant you look. As you walk to your car you feel gratitude for everything that has transpired so far and know you will have an awesome day and do!

This example may seem corny to some but it represents the most valuable aspect of gratitude which is the power of its ripple effect.  This lasting impact is where is really differs from appreciation. In the end however, you can’t go wrong with either appreciation or gratitude.  Both will leave you feeling better if you open you heart and both will lead to a more positive world. 

As for me on the road, I chose to feel both gratitude for a safe trip and appreciation for being able to help someone else out. : )

Rick Ornelas is the author of 12 Hours of Heaven: Lessons for a Better World. He coaches businesses and individuals to ultimate success, and brings together those who seek to make the world a better place. Schedule a free coaching consultation at isparkchange.com.

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