The Power of Appreciation and When Gratitude is No Longer Genuine
Expressing Gratitude and Appreciation
What is it?
“Researchers define appreciation as the act of acknowledging the goodness in life—in other words, seeing the positives in events, experiences, or other people (like our colleagues). Gratitude goes a step further: It recognizes how the positive things in our lives,” and allows you the opportunity to notice the efforts of other people and to thank them for their contribution.  Gratitude can also come from achieving something you intended – where upon you feel gratitude to yourself for conceiving of the action/s pursuing it and persevering until you achieved its fulfillment.
Expressing gratitude goes far beyond having and engaging with good manners. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are the words that are heard; gratitude is the meaning and intention that is felt. Your words are the vehicles of your intentions – so when you offer someone appreciation and gratitude connect with the feeling and MEAN it. Think about intentional speech here and avoid letting ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ become reactionary phrases.
Why do it?
Well, Joe DiMaggio of the Landmark Forum says that expressing gratitude is a form of clean communication (when your heart and mind match your words and deeds). When we express gratitude to others, we offer them genuine and authentic connection based on our appreciation for them as a humans. “Real acknowledgment is not true-or-false, right-or-wrong—it doesn’t describe, report on, express, command, or manipulate. It’s not to make something happen, produce a result, make us or another feel good.” (Read the full excerpt from DiMaggio in the resources section below).
In the “Attitude of Gratitude” portion you will read about a number of practices to begin to cultivate gratitude within your life. Expressing appreciation and gratitude to those around you is a natural next step after some of the activities, such as writing a gratitude letter or journal. According to the Greater Good Institute, “Expressing the gratitude is worth more than writing it down in a gratitude journal.” Writing down these feelings is a great place to start because it allows you to notice what it is you appreciate. By noticing what it is you are grateful for in this moment, you amplify your awareness of what you are grateful for, and you will notice and “celebrate” it much more.When you share your gratitude with someone, not only does the recipient find joy in your appreciation, you will feel a positive sensation from expressing that joy. Try it out, write a letter to someone who inspires you and then read it to them!
Inspiration and Tips!
1) You know that person in your life who has inspired you or helped you in some way? Call them and tell them how grateful you are. Studies show that expressing gratitude to the actual person is far more beneficial to your emotional and physical health – not to mention, your relationship with said person!
2) Say grace before dinner? Or not? Either way, introduce an intentional time to express what you are grateful for at the beginning of your family meal (Or any other time the family is all gathered together, and not just on Thanksgiving)
3) Check out the Gratitude Experiment
Celebratory love, is “when we see the awesomeness in someone else and celebrate it with them”. -Barbara Fredrickson
|What We Can Learn from the Best Marriages||In this article, the author discusses 3 strategies to support the endurance of what he calls “Self-expressive” marriages – these can also be applied to any romantic couples.||The All or Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work by Eli J. Finkel|
|Gratitude is for Lovers||This article discusses how to combat taking your partner for granted by practicing gratitude and offers strategies for long-lasting, happy relationships.||Begin by practicing gratitude towards your partner alone first. This will put you in an open and grateful state of mind and alleviate setting expectations on one another. Be patient with your partner and with yourself : )|
|Love Languages||Discover the 5 core ways that humans like to give and receive affection.||What are yours? Take some time to learn your own and those around you?|
Expressing Gratitude in a Relationship
“If taking each other for granted is the poison, then gratitude might be the antidote.”
Expressing gratitude to your loved one is often easily forgotten. Day-to-day living with, or near, your significant others can lead to patterns and ruts in which we no longer see them or what they bring to our lives. Make the time in your daily life to see the moments, actions, and qualities of your significant other that are the reasons you are together. And share them : ) Learn your partner’s Love Language to discover the best ways you can show them your gratitude.
When offering and accepting compliments from your loved one, or anyone for that matter, connect to the meaning behind the offering. For many, expressing appreciation can be a sign of vulnerability because the giver of the compliment is offering you an insight into their own needs and feelings. When you offer appreciation be specific as to what you appreciate and why, so that the receiver can connect with the significance of the expression. When you are the receiver of a compliment, say ‘Thank you.’ Remember that you are being offered this compliment because someone is expressing genuine feeling and you deserve it : )
NVC and Gratitude – The NVC, or Non-Violent Communication, model offers a formula of what to consider when giving and receiving gratitude: This is what you did; this is what I feel; this is the need of mine that was met. By structuring your appreciation in such a way, you are offering an opportunity for connection between yourself and the receiver.
Expressing Gratitude in the Workplace
Expressing appreciation to someone you love or feel connected to feels logical, but what about co-workers? Are there benefits to sharing gratitude with the people you work with? Studies by the Greater Good Institute show that productivity and morale in the workplace increases when employees are appreciated for their work and contribution. People want to be recognized for their hard work in other ways besides money whether from a ‘boss’ figure or from peers. There are a number of ways to achieve this goal. By extending your expression of gratitude to your co-workers, you may find yourself experiencing closer connections as well as a work environment based on appreciation and acknowledgment.
You can create your own practice based on the needs of your working environment. The key is intention: without it, expressions of gratitude feel fake and fall flat.
From The Greater Good Institute:
- Gratitude is about the whole person – celebrate the person not just what they accomplished (this becomes stale)
- Gratitude isn’t one size fits all – love languages!
- Gratitude must be embraced by leaders
- Gratitude has to be part of the culture and practiced by the collective
Behind all the suggestions lies the meaning of your offering. The intention behind each acknowledgment practice and the recognition that it is genuine is what creates a workplace in which people continue to thrive.
|“Success without Fulfillment is the Ultimate Failure”:Tony Robbins and how fulfillment and gratitude are linked.||Though they are speaking to business, Tony Robbins describes his belief that fulfillment in life comes down to gratitude, celebration, and contribution.||Check out the Greater Good website for inspiration on purpose and fulfillment!|
|How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace||This article tells story of fostering a gratitude culture in an office and the positive domino effect it had on the employees.||Check out the resources on cultivating gratitude at work below!|
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” —Buddha
Expressing gratitude to yourself and accepting the gratitude shared from others is as important for your happiness : )
When Gratitude is No Longer Authentic
When you think of Gratitude, avoid the judgment toward others and yourself. If you are thing ‘should’ then likely you are not connecting to the FEELING of gratitude. When encouraging the practice of gratitude in others, it is important not to guilt someone into it. For example, telling a child he ‘should be grateful for his dinner because there are starving children in Africa’ is, in its essence, hoping to inspire guilt. Instead, begin with a conversation – What does gratitude feel like in your body? Why are you feeling this? What was the circumstance that led to the reaction in your body? And how will show this feeling? When we truly connect to the feeling of gratitude and think about the circumstance, we will easily be able to put our heart in our hand and reach out with gratitude.
|What Parents Neglect to Teach about Gratitude||This article focuses on the importance of teaching children how to receive, in order to inspire them to give. The experience of Gratitude is broken down into 4 parts and ways to foster them in children.||Review the 4 main points and how you can incorporate them into your own gratitude practice.|
Furthermore, when you are saying thank you, avoid it become a reactionary habit and, therefore, losing meaning. Many people say thank you without FEELING the gratitude. Once again, take a moment to connect to the feeling and expressing that as a thank you rather than a reaction based on a societal expectation.
The “At least I have it better than that guy…” Approach
Is the approach to other-oriented gratitude just comparing ourselves to others?
The “at least I have it better than that guy…” method of gratitude is, like the above, oriented around others; however, rather than seeing the positive in your interaction or their contribution, you are seeing the negative in their experience and through this, choose to see how lucky you are not to be experiencing it, too. With the approach, you can still feel gratitude for a situation, however, you are drawing the gratitude out of negativity. Like when you are able to notice the positive in your day after writing in a journal nightly, basing your gratitude off the pain of others will manifest as negative noticings instead. Think of the vibrations you are sending out and what you hope to receive in return.
In his article below, James Altucher discusses the potential negative aspects of this style of gratitude. You are walking down the street feeling downtrodden by your day, when you look up to see a homeless man sleeping on the steps of an old building, curled up against the cold. You can easily look at this man and think to yourself, “Well, he has it worse than I do! Thank goodness.” From there, your day may seem a little brighter.
Here is where you reach a crossroads: Do you stop to consider the positives you have in your life and the steps you can take to manifest more? Or do you continue walking the same path only to feel downtrodden by the next negative circumstance in you encounter in your own life? The latter can lead to complacency wherein we do not make the necessary changes in our lives to better our situation and to practice gratitude. This, Altucher says is “Gratitude sickness. Gratitude enslavement. Gratitude blindness.”
What’s the sweet side of this? When we recognize someone’s else situation may be worse off than ours, it offers us to opportunity to feel gratitude and to take it a step further. “Recognizing that there are those less fortunate than them helps build empathy, gratitude, and appreciation…” for what we have.
|How Can We Teach Gratitude Early in Life?||This author also aims to offer support and suggestions to model and teach gratitude to children and the benefits that permeate throughout the child’s life.|
Stuck in the “At Least I Have it Better…” approach? Check out the Buddhist meditation of Tonglen : ) And see below for Altucher’s article and the steps he suggests to practice gratitude.
|The Sick Truth About Gratitude Porn||This article dares to discuss the possibility of gratitude becoming an excuse and leading to complacency in life.||Have a read and ponder…|
Additional Resources on ‘Gratitude and Others – Outside of Yourself and the Power of Appreciation’
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” —John F. Kennedy
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” —Henri Frederic Amiel
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” —William Arthur Ward
“You bring out the best in yourself by looking for the best in others.” —Gene Bedley
“(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman” Aretha Franklin
“Thank you for Loving Me” Bon Jovi
“Thank You for Being a Friend” Andrew Gold – He even talks about sending him a card!
“Thank You” Meghan Trainor
“Thank You” Dido!
“You Raise Me Up” Josh Groban
“Kind and Generous” Natalie Merchant
You get the picture….