November is National Gratitude Month. No doubt, you’ve read some article espousing the benefits of a regular gratitude practice. I believe, and there is plenty of research to back this up, that when done meaningfully and consistently, practicing gratitude is transformative.
But we should also practice appreciation. Which I think is different than gratitude and speaks to the heart of what it means to be a generous artist.
Appreciation means respecting your craft. Reading and learning about those who came before you as well as those presently doing the kind of work you want to do.
If you’re a theatre artist for example, that might mean reading tons of plays by a wide variety of playwrights. Different time periods. Different genres. Even ones you might not necessarily care for. If nothing else, just to learn and cultivate your taste. It might mean reading other books on the craft of acting, directing, writing, theatre history, etc…Seeing as many plays as you can (even if just streaming right now). Watching and studying great films and television shows. Leave no stone unturned in your search.
Appreciation also means respecting your audience. Appreciating how busy they are, just how little time they have, and how difficult and expensive it is for them to leave their house. That appreciation might be the motivation for you to find and manifest your passion project and do it with excellence. Or if you’re doing something right now, having appreciation motivates you to work a little bit harder, practice more, go a little bit deeper, ask more questions, etc… Whatever you can do to make the work the best it possibly can be. For those who generously gave their time and money to see your art.
So yes, keep practicing gratitude throughout this month and thereafter. But also add appreciation. You’ll become a better, more complete artist and human being.