Gratitude is the quality of being aware and thankful of the good things we have. Appreciation may be more important, as it is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something besides ourselves.

Appreciation takes gratitude up a notch—because to be appreciative, we are actively looking for what is good, even when it might feel particularly challenging.

Let’s look at the difference: When we want everyone to follow our rules and they’re not, there’s not much to feel grateful about. However, we can appreciate that others have opinions, that they are entitled to them and if we choose to listen, maybe we can learn something from their opinions.

More so, noticing that not everyone follows our rules can make us appreciate those who seem to be connecting more with what we are thinking or feeling. This might ultimately make us feel more grateful and also make the other person feel more appreciated, especially if we told them that we recognized and appreciated them.

While the dictionary says “gratitude” and “appreciation” are nouns, somehow appreciation seems more verb-like and action-oriented. We have to seek things to appreciate and can feel it more if we somehow choose to share our appreciation.

Practicing appreciation helps improve relationships because if we’re paying attention to what we value in others, their behaviors that bug us may become less bothersome. Practicing appreciation also gives us a chance to be more real. We are not only grateful for help from others, for example; we also feel happy that they shared their time and energy or lent an ear to hear us.

Think about those times you felt appreciated. Didn’t they make you feel like you wanted to do even more? While someone might know we’re grateful to have them in our lives, that is kind of more about us than them. But, if we show genuine appreciation, the focus is on the other—and the attention is off us.

I’m @DianGriesel aka @SilverDisobedience