There are a plethora of wonderful articles, blogs, books, videos, and research papers to be found on the net addressing the subject of gratitude. While many of these cover similar ideas, they are a wonderful contribution to teaching children well. But is it enough to teach children about gratitude? More importantly, what is gratitude anyway?
Here we will consider two aspects of this story. Firstly, we will consider gratitude as a definition in everyday terms and how this relates to the concept of appreciation. Secondly, we will look at what are the most important aspects of teaching children well about gratitude.
When it comes to using words like ‘appreciation’ and ‘gratitude’, there is some confusion, and a difference of opinion is evident. It makes no difference what word is used to describe the essence of what we are referring to here, but we need to be on the same page when it comes to understanding “the essence” of what we are talking about. Creating tension over the semantics is nothing but an ego story. Bottom line, whatever works for you.
The most common word used in and outside of the research is gratitude. But again, it really depends on what resonates with you and you may want to simply say “thank you!” as your go-to-word. When people think about gratitude it conjures up images of ‘thankfulness’, ‘gratitude journals’, ‘blessings’, and ‘just be grateful for what you have because there are a lot of people out there who don’t have anything’. In some way’s gratitude seems a little like hard work. The reason for this statement is it occurs to me that gratitude is often a contradiction.
In her book, “Thank and Grow Rich” Pam Grout defines what she calls gratitude as “shameless gratitude, ferocious gratitude, in-your-face gratitude”. Within M.A.G.I.C.™ The Practice, this is what is exactly what is meant by the word appreciation. It is more than gratitude. As Pam says in her book, this isn’t any “namby-pamby, sun-shine-and-lollipops crap”. For Pam, this is a way of life, a way of living out each day where we forget thinking and start thanking – Everything. This is what she refers to in her book as “the extreme sport of gratitude” and by doing so provides us the reader with an insight into the depth, the wisdom, and the unconditional love that is the universal energy force – the potential of energy existing all around and within.
Mindfulness and appreciation (rather than gratitude) celebrate the present moment no matter what the circumstances. Appreciation within the M.A.G.I.C.™ practice is a state of celebration for all that the individual has and all they don’t have, with an inner knowing that all is as it should be for his or her highest good and expansion. Here, appreciation is akin to abundance, acceptance, recognizing the opportunity of a gift in every circumstance. It is not focusing on the “good” or “bad” but recognizing the opportunity to accept without conditions, and to love without attachment.
This is an important point because it highlights that the practice of appreciation has no connection with “the problem” or “the lack”. Unlike the practice of gratitude that most people promote, which continues to recognize the problem by holding on to a small facet of that problem. Most of all, appreciation acknowledges all circumstances as neither negative nor positive. As Darryl Anka says, “Circumstances don’t matter, only the state of being matters.” In other words, we create our reality with our thoughts and emotional state – the state of our being. If we focus on the circumstances then we will resonate with these circumstances. Appreciation allows us to see the circumstances and take it up a vibrational step.
Appreciation holds a distinct vibration which is different from the gratitude most people talk about. While appreciation may include an aspect of gratitude, gratitude does not always include an aspect of appreciation. Appreciation feels complete, it is accepted without judgment, while gratitude tends to be half-hearted retaining some degree of judgment and attachment.
Appreciation focuses on the feeling which comes from the heart while gratitude focuses on the thought which comes from the ego or the mind. The heart is a feeling instrument always looking to guide us where we need to go for our highest good and expansion. The mind on the other hand is a cognitive processing unit (CPU or Ego) programmed with thousands of fictional stories stored by the inner mind. The combination of the head and inner mind is the ego’s make up. While the ego has a valuable role to play in survival, it has no valuable part to play in higher-level decision making. The trick is to listen to our hearts and accept that our head is desperate.
Appreciation is an internal process of acceptance while gratitude focuses on the outside or external world. Appreciation acknowledges the worth of the rain when it comes and values it when it goes, “I appreciate the rain because it does so much good and I like it when it has gone because I can go outside.” Gratitude on the other hand says, “The rain is nice, but I am grateful it has gone, it stops me doing so much.” Appreciation is “thanks for the experience” while gratitude is “thanks, but no thanks.”
This is the act of recognizing the gift, the opportunity, the blessing, the situation without judgment, to feel a ‘thank you!’ coming on. We may not have any idea what is good about a situation, experience, event, yet we can accept it without judgment and without attachment. Again, circumstances don’t matter only the state of our being matters.
Appreciation is acceptance with the mind, felt like joy in the heart, expressed in the cells as feedback for the mind. Appreciation is complete in itself. Appreciation aligns the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects as one unit – you. This concept gathers momentum when we realize how it is impossible to feel appreciation and to feel anxious, depressed, angry at the same time. It is a way of thinking and a way of feeling!
Appreciation does not happen in the mind. It ‘happens’ in every one of the trillions of cells making up the body. Remember every one of those trillion cells is like a miniature you, except there are upwards of 50 trillion little you, looking back at you in the mirror. So, appreciation happens in the cells of the body and it happens through the heart. This is because the heart is the part of the physical body that interprets emotions, feelings which take place in the cells and between the cells and provides this information to the brain.
When we look at any aspect of our life, no matter we judge it to be “good” or “bad”, if we can come to a place of appreciation the conditions will change in our favor. Guaranteed! Train yourself to practice appreciation just for one week and see how your life changes.