How do you frame gratitude in your life? Have you ever thought about how it relates to appreciation? Why is it that grateful people seem to have a much easier time in life?

It seems like a lot of people think that gratitude is something that only happens on special occasions. Like it’s something separate that arises as a result to good things happening.

But really, what if gratitude is a quality of consciousness that’s inseparable from our very being that we can learn to apply as a tool for our success?

So if you just allow yourself to understand that gratitude is actually a skill that can be developed, you’ll hold the key to creating whatever it is that you dream about in life.

I was recently listening to an interview with Dan Sullivan about this very topic and the magic power of language. He is a well-known consultant and author who commands huge respect in certain circles.

He was drilling down into the specific usage and meanings of both gratitude and appreciation, noting that people often use the terms interchangeably. He made some very interesting observations and distinctions between the two.

Appreciate is a verb, something that happens or something you do. Appreciate actually has three different meanings. The first is to simply understand something. To recognize the implications of an action or activity. You appreciate the impact that a new marketing plan is going to have on your bottom line.

Appreciation also signifies a rise in value. Things like fine art, real estate, or rare records are all known to appreciate in value. This aspect has an interesting metaphysical double meaning to it.

And of course, in many ways appreciation is a synonym for gratitude. You can offer your appreciation to someone, or hope that your kids will find some for you.

(Case in point: That’s me and Teresa on the ski lift at Mt. Rosenear Lake Tahoe yesterday. First time on skis in over 30 years for both of us! We rallied our two kids and their two friends for an epic day on the slopes. After all the effort and ordeal, it’s the memorable moments we trust they’ll appreciate in years to come.)

Gratitude however, is a noun. It can be thought of as both a feeling and a skill that you can develop. When you have it, you are infused with a sense of well-being. When it’s lacking, life’s glass is always half empty.

The really interesting thing about gratitude, and why it is such a valuable skill to cultivate, is the way that it displaces other negative feelings and mindsets simply with its presence.

Think about it. When you are intentionally cultivating the feeling of gratitude, it’s nearly impossible to feel fear, shame, or a sense of doubt. It pushes aside negativity, and shines a light on the good things worth growing.

This is where the relationship between the two words gets interesting. When you apply the action of appreciation to the substance of gratitude, you create an environment for positive growth and a natural increase in value.

A quick study of successful people will bear this out. Self-made leaders creating massive value in the world are generally very grateful people. While those who have had fame or fortune bestowed upon them while remaining ungrateful often suffer ignoble falls from grace.

So let yourself think of gratitude like a muscle you can build or a skill you can develop. Like a good yoga, meditation, or fitness regimen, approach it as a practice.  You’ll learn how to shine it into dark corners of fear and doubt on a moments notice, making room for the action of appreciation to work its wonders.

Remember, while gratitude is something that you can learn to inflate within yourself, you have an infinite supply of appreciation to give to others. The keys to contributor culture are in every kind word or good deed you offer, so prime your pump with the power of positivity and be the one who increases the value of yourself and everyone around you wherever you go.

Have yourself an awesome week! Grateful for who you are and appreciating all that you do!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine


This week’s Dance First spotlight is a special shout-out to Bay Area-based singer-songwriter Paige Clem! She’s a long-time luminary in the local music world and is celebrating her debut album release at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael this Friday, March 9th!

Born and raised in Alabama, Paige has been in the Bay Area for the better part of 20 years now and performs frequently with various bands and showcases, but this is her first solo record and many reputable local musicians are coming out to support the event.

A “Jill-of-All-Trades”, Paige is not just an accomplished songwriter and performer, but she also works full-time as the Director of Marketing and Special Programs for High Sierra Music Festival and is raising her 10-year old son, Alex, as a single mother living in the Inner Sunset, SF. She also “moonlights” as a model/actress at a local talent agency (MDT Agency).

Her list of credits and co-appearances is epic, having shared the stage and studio with Dead and Co., Further, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, ALO, Fruition, Anders Osborne, RatDog, Achilles Wheel, Tea Leaf Green, New Monsoon, Moonalice, Tracorum, Front Country, Midnight North, Dead Winter Carpenters, Shook Twins, Doobie Decibel System, Melissa Ethridge, Steve Poltz, The Brother’s Comatose, Joe Craven, James Nash, Mark Karan, Eric McFadden, Scott Pemberton and more.

She is also the creator, curator and host of the popular “Songs About Something: Old, New, Borrowed and Blue Tunes in the Round” — an ongoing monthly songwriters-in-the-round series held at Albany’s Ivy Room — and she can frequently be found performing at various Bay Area showcases.

For those of you in the Bay Area who have yet to experienceTerrapin Crossroads, this is a great reason to make the trip. Founded by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, this venue is a dream destination for live music fans and foodies alike.

On the canal waterfront in San Rafael, Terrapin Crossroadsboasts a state-of-the-art concert auditorium, an indoor lounge stage, multiple dining areas, and a family-friendly outdoor patio venue complete with picnic tables and bocce ball. A living museum to the history of the Grateful Dead and a working home to live music culture, this is the place to chill with friends and enjoy great sounds and farm-to-table cuisine.

We’re delighted to give a big Conscious Dancer shout-out to Paige Clem and highly recommend this show to all of our Bay Area live music fans!

Preview / listen to Firefly here. 

Paige Clem Firefly Album Release feat. James Nash, Joe Craven, Jordan Feinstein, Robin Sylvester, Ben Lauffer + Friends with special guest sets from Nat Keefe and Jeff Berkley
March 9th, 8pm, Grate Room, Terrapin Crossroads, San Rafael.

Paige Clem Website

Terrapin Crossroads Website