Appreciation v.s. Gratitude: Is There a Difference?

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” —Voltaire

Whatever hardship we experience throughout the years, it is important that we have a positive outlook on life. One way to help with this is finding the aspects of our lives that we appreciate despite the bad events that we’ve faced. Appreciation is closely related to gratitude, yet it is distinct from it. 


What Is Appreciation?

Appreciation is an action rooted in gratitude. Some dictionaries define it as a person’s recognition of the positive qualities in something or someone we know. A lot of people make the error of interchanging it with gratitude. However, appreciation is different from gratitude, even though they have a close connection. 

Gratitude is a state or a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation. Meanwhile, appreciation is an action where we see the good qualities. The two are interlinked, as we need to appreciate something before we enter the state of thankfulness for it. On the other hand, appreciation is an action that we do in the present based on the feeling of gratitude that we have for certain aspects of our lives. [1]

To put it simply, gratitude serves as a base for appreciation to grow. Appreciation, however, involves us being more aware of why we are thankful. We will need to reflect upon the good aspects we see before becoming appreciative of it. Either way, we choose to be grateful and to be appreciative, and by choosing one or both, it is possible for us to paint a more positive picture of our future[2].


The Extent of Appreciation

To move towards a more positive outlook in life, appreciation is a concept we can embrace. We should know that the extent of this action can reach far and wide. It involves us both as individuals and as people who are part of society.

As Part Of Society

We are more likely to find ourselves appreciating something when it involves other people. After all, it is easier to see great qualities in others than to ponder upon our own qualities. Our actions connected to expressing our appreciation can be more external as well. We may give compliments and act kindly to others if we want to express our appreciation to society. We can point out what they have done well and even give gifts to show how much we appreciate them.

As Individuals

While easy to spot, appreciation for others is only one side of the story. We should also reflect and appreciate our own positive traits to have a brighter outlook in life. Doing so might be quite difficult for many, as it is a widely spread disease to feel not good enough. Other people, however, can help us notice our positive traits, and they can help give a little push if we are having a hard time finding it[3]. 


The Pitfall Of Appreciation

One bad pitfall involving the appreciation of one’s self and reflecting upon it is comparison. Comparing ourselves to others can badly affect the way we see life. Instead of finding positivity, we can get disheartened and move towards a negative mindset, which can be harmful to our mental health. When we meditate and reflect, it is better to focus on ourselves instead of what other people may have that we don’t.

This pitfall can easily be avoided, and here is a list of what we can do to help us reflect.

1. Find Our Center

If we want to start meditating or reflecting to find out the best traits we have, it may be best to center ourselves first. If we want to, we can dedicate a quiet place that we can redecorate to be comfortable in it. We can put on calming music, add decor that can help us relax, and cozy furniture. Once we’re in a place that’s ideal for self-reflection, what we may think about will likely become clearer in our minds.

2. Recognize What’s Great About Our Bodies

While loving our physical appearance is good, we should also recognize the great aspects of our bodies that we overlook. As we meditate, try to hear our heartbeats, the way our muscles move, and the way our body functions for us to live efficiently as human beings. These are bodily functions we don’t usually notice as we go on with our lives, yet if we think about it, they are there, working like a well-oiled machine to keep us alive and are worth appreciating.

3. Embracing Individuality

Comparing ourselves to others may usually result in a negative mindset, yet this can also turn into something positive. Instead of concentrating on what others have that we don’t, we can focus more on what we have. Appreciating traits that are uniquely ours is a good start to loving ourselves more[3].


Appreciating Ourselves

Finding the good aspects within ourselves which we can appreciate while facing many challenges in life can become difficult. Reflecting upon it can be hard, especially being enmeshed in the negative emotions that bring us down. It may be tough to do, yet practicing to think about what we love in ourselves helps a lot. To get better at it, we can start forming habits by doing these.

1. Writing It Down

When we think about great aspects of our lives that we appreciate, writing them down in a daily journal helps us remember them. Apart from that, writing also serves as an outlet for emotions. It also helps us concentrate to dig deeper and realize more aspects to write about.

2. Living In The Moment

Many people tend to overthink about blunders of the past or uncertainties of the future while failing to live in the present. To see what we can appreciate, we should live in the “now” and let go of our worries about the past and the future for a while.

3. Showing Emotions

Bottling up emotions can be harmful. If we keep them bottled up, negative emotions can enhance upon each other, which weigh us down as time passes and blind us for the good that may come our way. To avoid this, it may be a good idea to show our emotions, whether they are positive or negative, as we live our lives. 

4. Self Care

Taking care of ourselves should be our first priority. However, because of many factors in our lives, such as our jobs or our relationships, we tend to overlook them. Taking some time to unwind and relax, and by doing so, we can clear our minds and reflect effectively[4].

Keeping a positive mindset, especially when we’re facing big challenges along the way, can be extremely challenging. Despite the setbacks we may face, it is still possible to keep staying positive, and a great place to start is by being grateful and appreciating the people that we have and don’t in our lives. The more we can appreciate, the more content we can be.



  1. Gratitude and Appreciation – What’s the Difference?
  2. The Difference Between Gratitude and Appreciation
  3. A Simple Practice to Help You Appreciate How Wonderful You Are
  4. How to Appreciate What You Have Already