Maybe it’s just me, but whenever gratitude was discussed in my house, it always implied I should be grateful to “God.” Or maybe my parents. The point is, gratitude is great, but it’s often presented in an imbalanced way. You should supplicate yourself to your superior because they saw fit to bestow a blessing upon you.
Not only that, there’s generally judgement implied. “I’m so grateful to have this meal because I know people out there are starving.” It’s almost like you can’t be grateful for something with out affirming that the alternative is bad.
I know this doesn’t have to be how gratitude works, but I also know that this is some of the baggage that gratitude brings up for me, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
I’m pretty sure that in his book A New Earth, Ekhart Tolle says, “If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.”
I would suggest that appreciation might be a sub-class of enjoyment.
“If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.”Ekhart Tolle – A New Earth
You see, the benefit to appreciation is that it already accepts that everything is temporary; the glass is already broken as the buddhist would say.
For me, gratitude always came the fear that I would lose that which I was so grateful for. With appreciation, I don’t have that fear – I know that I might lose it, and I know that’s ok, because one can find joy and beauty in nearly any situation.
For example, a rose is so beautiful. You don’t have to pick it, you don’t have to own it, and you don’t need it to live forever in order to appreciate it. It is what it is and you are what you are and you can appreciate it for all its beauty.
You can be grateful for the rose, but if you’ve been raised religiously, then you’re going to try to place that gratitude on someone or something. Grateful to God for the magic of plant life. Grateful to the gardener for planting it and pruning it. Grateful to the sun. Whatever. That’s not bad. It’s ok to be grateful toward those who had a role in bringing beauty to the earth, but if you’re read to develop a sense of selfulness, then try finding the genuine appreciation that lives inside you. Appreciate the rose for what it is; and appreciate yourself for what exists within you that sees beauty in the rose.
You are not a beggar. You are not subservient to all around you. You are part of all around you. If you can learn the art of a appreciation, then you can learn to enjoy things without requiring attachment or future securities.
As time has gone on, I’ve found that acceptance and appreciation are key to knowing how to enjoy and perpetuate freedom.