Two sides to gratitude

I have continued my practice of adding one thing each day for which I am proud of myself to my daily gratitude journal. I am amazed not only at what this small practice has done for my confidence and outlook on life, but also at how it has enhanced my overall feeling of gratitude in general.

It did not seem intuitively obvious to me that recognizing myself for things that I have done well should have any impact on my gratitude. In fact, I commented on this last week in a bit of puzzlement and surmised that it stemmed simply from feeling a sense of gratitude to myself for having done something well.

I still suppose that’s true, as far it goes. But when I discovered the following quote in a book I was reading this week, something more really clicked into place.

“There are two sides to gratitude: the first is appreciation, where you’re valuing something that has happened, and the second is attribution, where you’re recognizing the role of someone or something else in bringing it about. Even when you’re grateful to yourself, it is likely that others played a role in your development of the skill, strength, or quality you used. Gratitude is a social emotion. It points our warmth and goodwill out toward others.” ~Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone in Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

Even when I am grateful to myself, this translates automatically into gratitude to others when their assistance in helping me reach the place where I could do the thing for which I was feeling proud of myself. It is gratitude to myself, AND it is gratitude to others at the same time! No wonder the feelings are so similar.

I was also struck by the idea of the two sides of gratitude that the authors mention. I flow through both steps automatically without even realizing it.

I appreciate the gift of pumpkin cider from a friend earlier this week (it’s quite good, by the way!) and attribute the gift to his kindness and generosity.

I see the amazing colors of the leaves outside this time of year with great appreciation, and I attribute that to the people who took the time to plant the trees and to God for creating trees that manifest such a rich bounty of color each year.

I appreciate hearing about some exciting books today at lunch from a friend and attribute that to her generous spirit in taking the time to share what she knows might be of interest to me on my journey.

I appreciate my commitment to changing a lifelong pattern of oversleeping by getting up extra early every morning to have time to write before work and attribute that to the fact that my coach had confidence in my ability to do it and was willing to hold me accountable to it.

It’s always about appreciation and attribution, isn’t it?

“Gratitude is a social emotion.” Yes, I appreciate the truth of that comment and attribute it to the wisdom of authors who have looked even more deeply into this topic than I have.

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6 thoughts on “Two sides to gratitude

    • Thank you so much! I am very fortunate to have life circumstances that allow me to write every day. It’s the most wonderful form of self-care I can imagine for me.

    • The share button is supposed to let people share to Facebook, Twitter, and several other places. Does it not work for you? Or is it just not prominent enough?

      • Oh, I see the share button now! I added the Facebook and Twitter widgets, which are more prominent, or I am just blind and labeled things are easier for me to see 😉

      • Good to know that it works! I’ll have to look into adding other widgets to see if I can make them more prominent and obvious. Thanks so much for asking!

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