The difference between Gratitude and Appreciation

I’ve just got back from a fabulous time at the Quest Festival in Devon. I had the absolute pleasure of running 4 workshops on Happiness, The Artist’s Way and ‘Future Self Now‘. Everyone who came to my sessions was really up for all the games and exercises that I love to throw at people. We had a fun time together!

Thinking about these past few days and how perfectly everything worked out, I’ve been feeling very moved today. I’m remembering, however, to make sure that I’m in a state of appreciation and not gratitude.

What’s the difference?

Well it’s this:

Gratitude is often a state of being pleased that something has worked out despite possible negative outcomes. E.g. “I’m grateful that my workshops worked out” (because they could have been a disaster!) or “I’m grateful that I had a smooth journey down to Devon” (because I could have got stuck in the normal jam around the M5). Gratitude, in other words, looks backwards and more often than not promotes the overcoming of something. It is has a sense of relief about it: –  “Phew I’m glad that that didn’t happen!”

Appreciation, on the other hand, is more a state of savouring a current reality. It is more firmly rooted in celebration and delight for the thing itself. Its about highlighting the positive and dwelling on the deliciousness of it.

So, what we’re talking about here is a difference in the emotional quality of the two words – not the words themselves.

Remember: What you pay attention to grows. So even though this talk of the difference between two words may seem like splitting hairs, it really does matter because Gratitude can trigger a focus on overcoming a negative in the past, whilst Appreciation lives very firmly in the savouring of the NOW.

So, new friends from Quest and old blog-buddies, I very definitely do not feel gratitude towards you (“thanks for liking me!”) – I APPRECIATE you in all your glory for who you are now and into the future!

Rampages of Appreciation

It’s impossible to be grateful and upset at the same time. In the moment of appreciation – even if it is just a fleeting moment – we are free. When it comes to raising our energy, this is what makes gratitudes, in my opinion, even more powerful than meditation. Gratitude allows us to connect with abundance, wonder, love, generosity, joy. Meditation is quieter – more about stillness, contemplation and awareness – all extremely beneficial of course, but not as effective at having us climb what I call the energy ladder.

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A reader of this blog  – www.iamlivinginthemoment.wordpress.com – recently asked me after reading my post about the importance of putting our loved ones on a pedestal how that’s done. The short answer is with lots of appreciations! Abraham-Hicks call this practice of super-appreciating, a ‘rampage of appreciation’. This is where you just start on a subject and find every which way to be grateful for it. Here’s an example of a ‘rampage’:

The thing is that once you get going and become really conscious of what it is you’re appreciating, you find you come up with more and more to be grateful for – it kind of spirals and spirals, grows and grows. You’ve just got to get the ball rolling and when you do everything else seems to shut off as you just bathe in this delicious and abundant energy.

What can you rampage in gratitude about today?

 

 

A beautiful passing

I saw death this week and it has made a big impression. A beautiful, graceful and loving lady – a neighbour and aquaintance of mine, – “H” – died last week of breast cancer. She was in her early fifties and has left behind 3 amazing children and her loving husband.

Yesterday was her funeral. It was easily the most beautiful send-off I have ever witnessed. Friends and family reminisced about treasured moments in H’s life. Many songs were sung. At one poignant moment H’s husband sang with a quartet in his wonderful bass voice. The choir from the children’s school sang H’s favourite song.

I saw H for the final time that morning in her open coffin made entirely of beautiful cream felt with embroidered flowers on top. No longer H. really – just her earthly container – but an honour to be a witness to this most touching of passings.

Later, H.’s closed felt coffin was placed in a circle of flowers in the woods and we all wrote notes on paper leaves and hung them to a tree.

The subject of death for many is something to be avoided, feared and endured. Being at this inspiring event has made me realise once again how consciousness – the art of paying careful attention in a loving, open-hearted way, can facilitate a kind of magic. The magic of connection. H. had the time and, more importantly an incredible  generosity of spirit, to whole-heartedly plan all the details of her funeral with her family. It seemed as if everything was anticipated with an eye to what we as the mourners needed – honouring, celebrating, laughter, song, ritual, beauty and community. We all shared an inspired few hours together and it is typical of H. that she should facilitate this because she, of course, is all of those things.

Farewell sweet H. you will live on forever in so many people’s hearts.

 

 

How to Uncover Your Greatest Value

I loved this post by Leadership Freak – sometimes we don’t really understand our true value. What do others say are your strong points? Listen to these – they’re what make us unique and what we have to offer the world: How to Uncover Your Greatest Value.

 
This also ties in with this great TED video by Simon Sinek which urges us to start with ‘Why?’ and not ‘What?’

 

 

Keep your loved-one on a pedestal

Now that I’ve started running my Artist’s Way workshops again I’m going to be much more conscious about doing Artist’s Dates. These are basically about taking yourself off for about an hour a week just to have fun with you and you. They are meant to be playful, nurturing and fun – as if you were taking a child out on an outing.

My Artist’s Date today is probably no surprise for many of you – I took myself to the cinema – my favourite ‘me’ thing to do! The movie was “Hope Springs” and it struck me how well my new consciousness theme is embodied in it. The story basically follows a couple going through hard times and having therapy. (It’s a real testament to the screenwriter and the actors that they could make such a potentially agonising situation so poignant and funny). But the point is it highlights that the trouble with this older couple, who have been married for 31 years is that they have become UNCONSCIOUS of each other. Here’s a clip:

 

Long ago I realised something in my marriage: I must always do my damndest to keep Guy on a pedestal. What I mean by this is that I must do what it takes to take my gaze off the strange bathroom habits, the forgetfulness of conversations held only an hour ago, the constant losing of keys etc. etc. and focus resolutely on what makes him special – his handsome face, his humour, his love of his family, all the hard work he does on our behalf and so on. I know his faults (as he knows mine) so it’s not about ignoring them so much as saying: “that’s part of the package but I choose to make a conscious effort to keep my line of vision on the pedestal – because if I don’t, then smelly socks can take on way more significance than they should!

 

How conscious do I dare to be?

So, it’s now Year Two of this Happiness blog and, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve taken on the fresh challenge (hence my new tagline) of daring to be more conscious. This is why….

Reality – the ‘what’s-so’ of things has always appeared to me as a bit of an inconvenience – something to be tolerated whilst I get on with the more serious business of dreaming my life into existence. I’ve shied away from anything that smacks of that ghastly word ‘discipline’ because I have a rebellious-child’s resistance to it. Why should I do anything that feels like a ‘should’  – surely I’m the one in charge of my own life?

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s work ‘The Artist’s Way(and in fact I run workshops on it). Well now she has a new book out called ‘The Prosperous Heart‘ and in it she asks you to count evey penny you spend and receive in a little book. “What? No way! I don’t want to be wading around in the mud of my finances. And surely that’s all rather anal and sad?” I’ve also thought that in Law of Attraction terms this kind of attention to the minutae of things is misdirected – keeping your life small.

I’m realising now that I may have been missing a trick or two.

  • My weight and health have always been best when I’ve been counting what I eat and how I exercise.
  • I am very disciplined around organising my children’s school life, feeding the family, running my workshops, working with my clients etc. – it’s just I dont see it as discipline.

Abraham-Hicks talk about the importance of “loving what-is whilst reaching for more”. I’ve always read this as being OK with things not going the way I want whilst dreaming big. Not quite. I see now it’s about really meeting my reality honestly – i.e. not avoiding it – interacting with it, whilst maintaining a full expectation of growing into my desired future.

By avoiding the tricky subject of money and body weight in the name of attracting better things I was in fact only keeping resistance in place.

So now I am resolved to spend a year exploring this new concept of consciousness – being with what-is – even though I sometimes want to fight it in the name of positive thinking.

The name of the game is to ENJOY being with how things really are. I’m not embarking on this exercise of counting everything I eat and every penny I spend as a way of wallowing in lack and self-loathing – on the contrary I’m doing it to say: “This is worth paying attention to. This matters to me and I value my relationship with it.”

My very wise friend and coach Karen Hood-Caddy said to me this week: “It’s all about understanding how things work and then working inside of that.”

Yes! I think I’m starting to get it. Money, body weight etc. operate in a certain way. When I pay attention to that and work inside the parameters of that I, paradoxically, experience much greater control and therefore greater freedom.

I’m reminded of Stephen Fry’s great descripton of poetry. It is not, he argues, a restrictive form. When you write a novel you have so much choice about how you structure and shape it, it can be utterly overwhelming to begin; but with a poem the rules (mostly) are laid out and, now that you don’t have to worry about the structure of it, you can enjoy the freedom of playing with it as you will.

So constriction, discipline – whatever you want to call it – can be freeing. Yet more evidence of the Universe’s love of Paradox – (my favourite being: in order to have something you have to let it go). Paradox is everywhere and that makes being a human being so fascinating and wondrous.

I embark on this year’s challenge with excitement!

Happy Birthday, Happy New Year!

So the school holidays are over, we’re back from our wonderful holiday in Italy and I’m back in blogging-action. Horrah! I missed you all.

This blog is now officially 1 years old! Sing along now:

Happy birthday to you

Squashed tomatoes and stew

You look like a bunch-of-words

And you really are that too.

(You might have to be of Bristish descent to get that!)

I love this time of year because, for me, it’s my New Year – complete with resolutions and fresh new starts. Last year I created this blog out of a commitment to turning around my relationship with happiness and abundance. I feel I’ve come a long way on that journey and by way of completion with my year here’s a list of the top 5 things I’d say I’ve learnt:

1) Writing blogs is fun

2) There’s a whole world of wonderful bloggers out there.

3) Writing about happiness is a great way of staying alert for it

4) Lists in blogs are de-rigueur

5) Summarising a whole years-worth of posts is impossible!

I love to spice things up for myself at this time of year, so from today I’m going to change my tagline from “How happy do I dare to be?” to “How concious do I dare to be?” I’ll talk about this more in my next post – it deserves it’s own platform, megaphone and green room, I feel – but basically my commitment and challenge this year is to have my dream world and my “real” world meet. Being with reality has never been a strong point of mine – in fact I’ve deliberately shied away from it but as I get longer in the tooth I’m realising lasting change and transformation can only happen when I use my dreams to fuel a concious interaction with the “what’s so” of things.

Intrigued? I hope so! As I say, I’ll tell you more in my next blog. In the meantime may I just say how lovely it is to be back.

Now, time for virtual birthday cake – (much fewer calories).

Bring me sunshine

Ahoy, wonderful readers! It’s that time of year when your faithful Happiness Experimenter must away to the sun. England has had more than its fair share of the wet stuff this summer so there’s nothing for it but to seek out some Tuscan sun! I will most likely be away for a couple of weeks (but I do have the ability to publish blogs from my phone so you never know!).

And in the spirit of bringing on the sunshine and the happiness (no matter where you are right now) here’s a wonderful clip from one of the greatest British comedy duos ever – Morecambe and Wise. This is vintage 1970s – the song they sang at the end of every show – with their guest Cilla Black wearing a frightful neck-to-floor monstrosity. Keep with it though – Ernie’s dance at the end is bound to bring a smile to your face.

Bring me sunshine….!