Recently, I’ve been examining subtle uses of language. Clear communication moves us more quickly in the direction we choose. Robert Tennyson Stevens in his book, Conscious Language, has given me pause and encouraged me to take a closer look at how I express myself and how to use language more effectively.

Two sets of words I pondered were expectation vs. anticipation, and gratitude vs. appreciation. A friend recently pointed out that, “Expectation is premeditated disappointment.” Expectation assumes a series of events or happenings. It is a presumption. Often, events or people don’t rise to our expectations. Anticipation, on the other hand, conjures up preparation and suspense for the future. It is an openness to the way events will play out—a hopefulness with a touch of innocence.

Our second pair of words gratitude and appreciation also have subtle differences. Gratitude denotes being thankful yet carries with it, indebtedness and obligation. Appreciation constitutes a valuing, a treasuring and a regard for the efforts of people or events. It is a higher level of awareness and consciousness.

The words we use color our world and impact our lives. As the Knight Templar in Indiana Jones said, “Choose wisely.”