Hello again! You are freaking amazing—seriously! Do you show appreciation for yourself?

When is the last time you acknowledged your efforts? A lot of times we hear appreciation lumped together with last week’s topicgratitude.

“Gratitude and appreciation.”

In fact, these definitions of gratitude and appreciation even include one another in their statements:

Gratitude: “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Appreciation: “A feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.”

They are often treated as a single concept, but I think they are very different.

They can go hand-in-hand, but the practices require completely different intentions, and I think one is harder than the other.

When it comes to a daily practice of gratitude and/or appreciation, I think we miss out on a lot of personal growth if we treat them as one.

In the last Brain Food I discussed developing a gratitude practice. In a nutshell, can you spend a few minutes each day acknowledging a few things you are grateful for—big or small? Can you recognize something you’re thankful for in your life?

These things can be big or small—there’s no right or wrong.

I gave examples last week, like my dog, coffee, someone on my work team, the cool weather, my job, my privileges, my sisters, or my yoga mat. 

So what is an appreciation practice?

We tend to express appreciation for other people, but we often neglect to appreciate ourselves—this is what an appreciation practice is about for me!

Different people approach it in different ways, but my appreciation practice involves expressing something I admire about myself, or something I am proud of that I did that day.

Note: this is hard!

The first few times, this did not come easy.

Try it right now: What’s something you appreciate about yourself? What have you done today that you’re proud of, or even admire?

It can make us feel insecure to choose something, but over time the practice actually promotes confidence and self-worth.

It isn’t about being full of yourself—it’s about recognizing the positive choices and efforts you make. It isn’t about acknowledging success or achievements, but about acknowledging growth.

I have a “gratitude and appreciation” practice that I do every day, either morning or night. It only takes 2-3 minutes a day, but over time it can make a HUGE difference in how you think about yourself.

For my gratitude practice, I simply write down 3 things I’m grateful for—things (or people) that are beyond myself, like the examples above, or from last week’s email.

Same goes for my appreciation practice, but with this portion, I write down 3 things that I appreciate about MYSELF. Here are a few examples pulled from my personal journal over the past few months—

Today, I appreciate:

  • That I meditated.
  • That I did a task that I’ve been putting off for weeks.
  • That I drank enough water.
  • That I slept for a full 8 hours.
  • That I flossed.
  • That I played with my dog in the yard.
  • That I only checked my email twice.
  • That I cooked dinner instead of ordering out.
  • That I relaxed instead of worked on Saturday.
  • That I went to the fitness class even though I was dreading it.
  • My awareness.
  • My perspective.
  • My morning routine.
  • My yoga practice.
  • My personal growth.
  • My self-compassion.
  • That I did this appreciation practice!

My appreciation practice will of course look different than yours—you have to decide what you appreciate about yourself! Over time, it will get easier.

There are still days when I struggle to find something I appreciate about myself—but those are the days I think I need the practice the most.

Similar with gratitude, things I appreciate about myself sometimes repeat—that’s totally okay!

To be my most authentic self, there are a lot of things I want to do over and over—but those things can be hard. Showing myself some appreciation for doing them only encourages me to continue doing those things!

Overall, gratitude is a practice that will promote positive thinking and happiness, but appreciation is truly a practice of self-love. Both are important, so I’m not telling you to choose one.

If you’ve been practicing “gratitude and appreciation,” but treating them as a “gratitude” only practice, consider trying to acknowledge yourself and how great you are a little bit more!

“Change your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” 
-Tony Robbins

What do you appreciate about yourself? Write down a few things today (and every day!) and share it with me or someone else! Sharing with someone else can be a challenge, but it encourages you to find even more confidence in those things you appreciate!

Sending light and love your way,