The laws of attraction dictate that gratitude is a crucial factor. We often use words like appreciation, recognition, and thankfulness interchangeably. But do they all essentially mean the same? Or maybe they are varying degrees of the same thing?

Confusing gratitude with other similar feelings threatens the entire program with failure. Could it be that gratitude and appreciation are two sides of the same coin? And what is the definition of gratefulness?

Let’s explore the true meaning of these words.

Dictionary definition

The accepted dictionary definition of gratitude is that it’s the quality of being thankful. And further, that gratitude is a readiness to display appreciation for and return kindness.

Appreciation, meanwhile, is defined as recognizing and enjoying the good qualities of a person or object.

Thankfulness is defined as being conscious of a benefit and expressing thanks.

Recognition, on the other hand, is characterized as acclaim or appreciation for service, ability, or achievement.

Can they be interchanged?

When you look closely at these definitions, you can see overlaps in meaning. We can see, for instance, that one feeling can lead to another. It starts with thankfulness, which then leads to gratitude. Feeling grateful, in turn, transforms into appreciation and, from there, into recognition.

In a broad sense, then, these terms are mostly interchangeable. They are very close in meaning and grades of the same thing. But to be more precise, it’s a good idea to always use the right word for the right occasion.

Gratitude versus Appreciation

Gratitude is usually characterized to mean that feeling of thanks for someone or something.

On the other hand, appreciation recognizes the good qualities to be found in someone or something.

Gratitude is a feeling, while appreciation is related to an action flowing from that feeling. When we drill down a little deeper, we can understand the distinction between the two better. However, gratitude does not necessarily always result in us acting to show appreciation.

Gratitude changes into appreciation when we are living in the moment. By that, we mean being more in tune with the present and having more thoughtful awareness.

Appreciation arises when we proactively consider what lies behind our feelings of gratitude about something or someone. It’s possible to display being grateful without being openly appreciative.

An analogy at this point may help us grasp the difference separating gratitude and appreciation.

When you have a roof over your head, you feel grateful for that fact. But when you weigh up what lies behind this feeling, you are moving toward appreciation. The roof over your head is more than shelter. It’s convenient, comfortable, and possesses an individual beauty. When you start recognizing these values, it means you are appreciative.

Another appreciation definition is your recognition of quality, significance, value, or magnitude. When we appreciate something, we know it has made us feel happier, more loved, brighter, and more inspired.

Comprehending thankfulness

According to dictionaries, the definition of being grateful is feeling thankful. Does this, then, imply there’s no difference? Does it mean the two are identical?

Returning to the dictionary, thankfulness is pinned down as acknowledging that you have received benefits of some sort from another person.

Put simply; there are many ways to express gratitude. For example, becoming a volunteer with a local organization, donating to a charity, or unexpected acts of kindness, such as buying a meal for a needy person or helping out a stranger with no expectations of obtaining anything in return.

Conversely, there’s only one way to show thankfulness, and that’s by saying ‘thank you.’ This is not to imply that a mere ‘thank you’ is in any way a lesser form of gratitude. Undoubtedly, thankfulness is a good gesture. But often, we get into the habit of saying ‘thank you’ without being sincere. It becomes an automatic reaction.

Being thankful is good, but being grateful is even better. Gratefulness is undoubtedly the secret to an inspiring and fulfilling life. Being grateful helps remind yourself that your life is blessed and privileged. It also prompts you to be both kind and respectful to the people around you and your surroundings.

The importance of being grateful

Practicing gratefulness is the path to having a happy and content life.

Gratefulness is about always focusing on the positive instead of mulling over the negatives. Being grateful is neither expensive nor time-consuming. But the benefits you derive are vast.

Gratefulness is the road to being a happier, kinder, and healthier person. It steers us away from being self-obsessed and envious and toward having more self-esteem, being more relaxed, and more optimistic.

Gratefulness is what’s behind us becoming more trusting, more friendly, and more appreciative. A little gratefulness will also improve our relationships and help us make new friends. And that in itself will have a significant and direct influence on our health, both physical and mental.

But it isn’t easy

Nothing in life that’s good ever comes easy. And neither does anything worthwhile. The gain always involves some pain.

The benefits of gratefulness stack higher than the Himalayas, so it will be no surprise if you wish to start being more grateful. However, you can only get to the summit by tackling the foothills first. It’s going to be tough going overcoming negative behavior like selfishness.

Many people like to take credit when the going is great. But when things aren’t going quite so well, they are keen to shift the blame onto anyone but themselves. That is a prime example of being selfish. We have to strive to give credit for our success to others and take the blame even when, in our opinion, we are not directly to blame.

So, no, it isn’t easy. But the benefits vastly outweigh the downsides. It will undeniably be worthwhile bringing more gratefulness into your life.

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