“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” -Epicurus
“Aww, Leanne,” you might be thinking. “Is this another tired message about how less is more, we need to downsize, Americans consume too much, blah, blah, blah? If I wanted that, I would have gone to Miss Minimalist.”
That’s not what this is about at all. Instead, I’m going to ask you to consider how gratitude can help you appreciate your assets and your desires.
1. The point of gratitude is not to want less; it’s to appreciate the things we already have. If you focus on being grateful for what you already possess, it doesn’t mean you won’t want more, but you will be able to appreciate the true worth of those things. If you’re not appreciating what you have, there’s a good chance you won’t appreciate what you want, either. This applies not only to physical possessions, but to relationships, experiences, and career goals.
2. Being happy with what you have does not necessarily mean you have to be satisfied. I recently read an excellent short e-book by Wes Hopper, author of dailygratitude.com, called The Astonishing Power of Gratitude. (You can get it for free by subscribing to his website.) He writes, “Satisfaction implies an acceptance of the status quo. People can be satisfied without being grateful because they have just accepted things the way they are. Happiness, in contrast, implies a state of joy and gratitude for what we have and what we are.”
You might think that the ideal way to live is to be happy and satisfied. However, satisfaction with your life puts a cap on the desire to grow and learn further. You’re stunting your ability to move beyond who you are if you’re always satisfied with your current circumstances. Wes Hopper’s point is that we should strive to be happy and UN-satisfied- that is, grateful for what we have, but hopeful that our lives can get even better.
That sounds like a great way to live!
How is everyone doing with the three steps outlined in Monday’s post?
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. If you want to thank strangers, you have to get out of the house more. (Oops.) I did express appreciation to my fitness club’s manager for the fantastic new group exercise class, and I thanked my flute student’s mom for recommending a new hairstylist. (I guess they’re not strangers. Maybe I need to amend this step to include acquaintances.)
2. It turns out that I usually remember to thank my family automatically. My husband washed my car on Sunday, and when I got in it on Monday, I sent him a text telling him how great it looked. The thing is, I did that the last time he washed my car, too, which means my text had nothing to do with my current gratitude mindfulness. I think it has to do with my parents raising me to say thank you; it really is a part of my everyday consciousness. Thanks, Mom and Dad! (Hey! I did it again!)
3. You have a lot more time to say thank you to God when your son is having a teething attack and needs extra cuddle time. (Aha! Even teething provides something to be thankful for! At least for me, the mom.)
Friday’s post: A work of fiction that taught me everything I needed to know about gratitude, and then some.
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