The Difference Between Gratitude and Appreciation

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Gratitude and appreciation are both choices -- and choosing to show both can bring positivity into your life. But gratitude and appreciation, although related, are two different things: The first is being thankful for something or someone, and the second is seeing the good qualities in something or someone.

Showing Gratitude

People who are grateful choose to be thankful -- they are able to see and appreciate the good in their lives. Gratitude requires appreciation, but that isn't always easy. Sure, it's easy to be thankful when things are going your way -- a "thank you" to your boss for an unexpected bonus or to your husband when he brings home flowers is almost automatic. But choosing to be grateful during hard times can be more difficult. Still, according to Robert Emmons, author and professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, people who choose to show gratitude -- even in times of trial -- report increased feelings of happiness. People who are grateful for another person's kind gesture also tend to return the kindness.

Showing Appreciation

Appreciation means you notice and admire the beauty or goodness of something. This can be as simple as a sunrise. The second step is to be thankful. This is gratefulness. Sometimes, gratefulness does not follow appreciation. You can appreciate the skill it took to create a giant sculpture, but you might not be grateful if it blocks the view you used to have of the water. Learning to see and appreciate the beauty around you can help you cultivate gratitude, which in turn can lead to greater happiness.