The Act of Appreciation
Written by: Jessie Nolasco-Sandino, LMSW
As we step into the Holiday season – a season marked by warmth, giving, and the promise of a new year – let us reflect on the profound value of appreciation. Similar to mattering, the theme last month, the act of appreciating and feeling appreciated illuminates the core values that define who we are. Each carefully chosen gift becomes our connection with others, reflecting the spirit of appreciation that defines this festive time. Whether it’s a gesture of love toward friends and family, meaning behind our spiritual practices, or a grateful acknowledgment of life’s blessings, the act of showing appreciation becomes a universal language as the year draws to a close.
Recognizing the distinction between appreciation and gratitude is helpful. Gratitude is primarily an emotional response that can stem from appreciation or other sources. On the other hand, appreciation is more of a cognitive process that involves intentionally acknowledging the worth of a person or thing. While these terms may appear closely related, they have significant differences worth noting, particularly when delving into the concept of appreciation. Put in wonderful words by Sarah Kristenson in the article sourced below, “gratitude is the soil that appreciation is sown into and grows out of.” If we do not have the mindset of gratitude then our appreciation may fall flat when giving out the feedback.
Here are some essential aspects to consider regarding appreciation:
1. APPRECIATION IS SOMETHING THAT YOU EXTEND TO OTHERS
Appreciation is usually given to someone for something they did. I may show appreciation for services provided by a business or I may show appreciation for a friend who gives a gift. It can also be shown through the act of positive feedback in the workplace. All these ways of showing appreciation are easy things to do for one another and make such a difference for those who receive it, much like a thoughtful gift!
2. APPRECIATION BENEFITS RELATIONSHIPS
Showing or giving appreciation can be thought of as food for the soul. When we show or tell others that their actions are appreciated, it can give them a good feeling that helps them get through the day. Again, showing appreciation through words or writing, is a simple act but very often has far reaching benefits for those who receive it.
3. THERE IS NO GENUINE APPRECIATION WITHOUT GRATITUDE
We first must recognize what we are grateful for then we can show appreciation for it. For example, someone who has graduated college for the first time in their family might show appreciation by thanking specific people for what they did to help them get through college. However, none of that appreciation would mean anything when shared if they were not at least grateful for the things that created the environment that allowed them to succeed.
Remember, gratitude is a feeling and appreciation is a cognitive act.
The simple act of showing gratitude for the people, moments, and privileges we have becomes a poignant acknowledgement of the power of appreciation for what we have and hold dear to us. As we exchange gifts and express our appreciation during this time, let it serve as a beacon of awareness, prompting us to cherish the peace and joy we enjoy and to extend our compassion to those enduring the harsh realities of life. In the spirit of the season, let us not only appreciate what surrounds us but also strive to contribute to a world where the blessings of peace, love, and abundance are enjoyed by others. This December, let appreciation be a celebration of giving and receiving appreciation for our blessings, family and friends.