I am enjoying a third go-around with Dr. Srikumar Rao’s course on Creativity & Personal Mastery. A couple years ago, I took the online course. Last year, Alisa and I — and several friends — took the in-person course. Now, I am in a year-long journey through the concepts and practices with CPM alumni.

If this post’s topic, “Appreciation and Gratitude,” intrigues you, I encourage you to rearrange your life to take CPM: https://theraoinstitute.com/services/individual-training/ .


A small group video conversation about the differences and similarities between the words appreciation and gratitude has sparked continuing thought. Our conversation included…

There’s a specific quality to appreciation: one appreciates a specific, identifiable object (even though that object can be conceptual). An example: I appreciate my classmates’ insights. On the other hand, gratitude seems to be more of a mindset.

I looked up both words and find this:

  • appreciation — recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
  • gratitude — the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

The last phrase — “…and to return kindness” — was an insight a classmate taught me. Gratitude operates as both a receiving and a giving.


The rabbi once took us to visit with imprisoned people. On the way home, Or Mars (who brings us The Jewish Meditation Project of Columbus) said, “Did some seem like they might be unjustly imprisoned? Some certainly seemed like they very well deserve and need to be imprisoned. The test of our compassion isn’t whether we feel pain for the wrongfully imprisoned. The test of our compassion is whether we feel pain for someone who did terrible things and deserves to be in prison.”

I write this here and now because I don’t think that this moment of my life is a test of my ability to experience gratitude. My life is at its highest point. I appreciate my current life; gratitude is naturally my default emotional domain. If there were a Complaint Window, I wouldn’t have anything to report.

A classmate said, “Perhaps this is because the CPM study of gratitude and appreciation is working.” That makes me laugh, because I think she might be right. Before CPM, I always snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Like good health (easily taken for granted), rather than illness (very present with causes and symptoms), gratitude just sits quietly, happily.

We also talked about whether excess gratitude can be stored for a later deficit. Right now, I am more grateful than I can appreciate. Might I be able to put a little of that under-appreciated gratitude in the bank, saved for a rainy day?

We talked about tangible possessions, and how they bring us joy, because they retain our fond memories. Can abstract gratitude be similarly put on a shelf?

I end up here: Gratitude is not “use it or lose it.” It is “use it to grow it.” It’s like getting good soil for the garden, a bed for current and future flowers. And sharing it with others does not diminish it for me. Quite the opposite.


During the past two years, my default emotional domain has changed from frenetic busyness to gratitude. My creative output has increased. If this appeals to you, take CPM.