By Seline Shenoy
Being grateful is one of the most effective ways to create an abundant and joyful state of mind. By simply acknowledging our blessings, we can instantly cure unpleasant feelings of dissatisfaction.
It should come as no surprise then that research has found links between gratitude and increased optimism, decreased depression, and fewer physical ailments.
Gratitude is an essential ingredient to a good quality of life. Gratitude is a practice that can help us, but only if it’s complemented with strong self-awareness and honesty about our life situation.
But could being too grateful deflate our desire for progress? Is it possible to feel guilty for wanting more, just because we see it as a sign of ungratefulness?
The answer to these questions is an undoubted yes! I’ve noticed this tendency in my own life, and in the lives of friends and family.
For example, a close friend of mine found a job at a Fortune 500 immediately after we graduated college. She was thrilled about the offer and felt extremely lucky to secure a position at this prestigious firm, just as any wide-eyed graduate would.
During her first few months on the job, I'd touch base with her to see how she was getting along. She confessed that her work was menial and that her boss was making her work very long hours — but that she still felt grateful for the opportunity.
I knew that she was not being truthful, as I could hear pain in her voice.
The next time I saw my friend in person, I hardly recognized her. She had gained a lot of weight, developed bags under her eyes, and was a shadow of what she used to be. She looked tired, worn out, and had lost that signature sparkle.
I didn’t hold back from expressing my concerns. I urged her to consider finding another job so that she could establish a healthier work-life balance. Fortunately, she eventually found a job at a company that offered great opportunities for career growth but also allowed her to have a life outside the office.
This story illustrates one of the more common ways that people can misuse gratitude to hide from the truth and avoid making the changes that they know they need to make.
Gratitude is a practice that can help us, but only if it’s complemented with strong self-awareness and honesty about our life situation.
The key to avoiding complacency is maintaining a balance between gratefulness and ambition. It’s to create just the right amount of tension to feel driven — but not so much that you feel weary and deprived.
Here are some ideas on how to find, and stay in, this sweet spot:
1. Establish a gratitude ritual.
Remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for by writing in a gratitude journal, praying or giving thanks aloud, or training our mind to see the silver lining in any kind of situation.
2. Set challenging goals and remind yourself of them on a daily basis.
Goal setting is a must if you want to achieve success in any area of life. Goals are what make dreams more tangible and attainable. Try writing your goals down in a notepad on a daily basis to reinforce their importance.
3. Acknowledge your progress and milestones.
This is what will keep us motivated to stay on course. Most people want the “whole enchilada” as soon as possible, but sometimes our goals take time to unfold. During this process, it’s important to reward ourselves for the progress and small successes we achieve along the way.
4. Balance your life with relaxation and play.
While attempting to achieve your goals, it’s important to have a balanced life by making time in your schedule for relaxation and play. Without this, there’s a high chance you’ll burn out and crash (just like my friend).
5. Show some self-compassion.
As you follow the path your dreams, you’ll inevitably face challenges and make mistakes along the way. Accept that this is a necessary part of your learning curve — don’t beat yourself up for it!
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