What’s the difference between gratitude and appreciation?

This week I thought that we’d continue our ‘What’s the difference?’ series. Last week we looked at the difference between self-love and selfishness. For this week, we’re going to be asking ourselves, what’s the difference between gratitude and appreciation? Does it even matter? Let’s discuss. 

gratitude and appreciation

What is appreciation?

There are so many ways to define appreciation. The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something’. Merriam-Webster explains it as ‘recognition of aesthetic values‘. The Macmillan dictionary call it ‘an understanding of a situation’ 

However, I look at appreciating someone/something as seeing, and understanding not just their good, but also their negative qualities. Let’s say I have a friend X, who I deeply appreciate. Friend X is loyal, caring, and hardworking, all positive qualities that I admire. However, he/she is always late, falls asleep everywhere and is messy, all negative qualities that I’m not a fan of.  

I cannot say that I truly appreciate friend X if I only see him as the sum of his positive qualities. Let’s be honest, if we took away all the negative qualities that I mentioned earlier, then friend X would be a completely different person.

So, appreciation is being aware and accepting of both sides of friend X, as that’s what makes them who they are. 

Why is appreciation necessary? 

I believe that it is appreciation is necessary because it creates awareness about the little details that are often taken for granted. We often don’t realise it, but as humans we all have our little habits that are often blind to us. Some bounce their knees when anxious. Others chew their nails. These little quirks are what make humans special. 

The other day, I was with a close friend of mine when I noticed that they hummed to themselves whenever they were eating. It was the most random observation but when I revealed that detail to them, it made them feel ‘seen’, as I was truly present and appreciative of the moment that I had with them. How often do you take a second to appreciate all the little things about the people closest to you? 

Useful articles that you might want to take a look at:
Why Appreciation Matters So Much

The Importance of Appreciating Others

Now that we’ve covered appreciation, let’s take a look at the deeper concept that is gratitude.

gratitude and appreciation

What the difference between appreciation and gratitude? 

I think what sets gratitude apart from appreciation is the fact that gratitude considers the impact someone or something has on your life. It makes you connected on a spiritual level.  

Let’s return to friend X. As I mentioned earlier, I appreciate him/her for not only their good but also their bad qualities as that is what makes their unique personality. But how does having friend X in my life affect me? 

I am grateful to have them in my life because of the impact they have on who I am now and who I am becoming. Once again, I’m not just focusing on the ‘positive’ impact. I truly believe that we should be grateful for the negative experiences we have.

Now I know that sounds crazy to hear but hear me out. These experiences teach us so much about ourselves and have the potential to inspire so much personal growth. I have had people in my life who treated me poorly, but because of that experience, I learnt how to maintain proper boundaries in my interpersonal relationships. Without those people, I would not be the person I am today, and for that I am thankful.


What do you think? Is there a difference between appreciation and gratitude? When was the last time you appreciated something in your life, and then expressed gratitude for it? Let me know in the comments below, I’m curious! 

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