There’s a fine line between being grateful for what you have, and striving for better
It’s important to strive for better. To not “settle.” But striving for better can be to your detriment.
When you strive for better, you look at what you currently have with a critical eye. You tell yourself, “I can do better.”
When you tell yourself you can do better, by definition, you aren’t grateful. You can’t be grateful, while also looking for better.
Ironically, striving for better can make you worse off.
Striving for better can be a form of “resistance.” It’s a way for your mind to trick you out of the sometimes hard work of appreciating what you have. It’s a way for your mind to keep busy.
One time, I ordered some shoes. When they arrived, they were a slightly different color than I had expected. I thought they were going to be cool gray, but they were warm gray.
I could have striven for better. I could have sent the shoes back, and kept searching for the exact shoes I wanted.
But I didn’t do that. I decided, instead, to appreciate the shoes as they were. To be grateful that I had shoes, and to move on with my life.
I’m not exactly sure what I did with the energy I would have spent replacing those shoes, but I like to think that I used that energy to pursue my creative work. To write one more blog post, or read one more chapter of a book.
And now, years later, I’ve worn those shoes enough that I’m ready to order a new pair. Not only did I stop caring what shade of gray they were, I grew to love those shoes.
There’s a fine line between being grateful for what you have, and striving for better.
On one side of the line, you trade happiness and productive energy for unhappiness and emotional waste. On the other side of the line, you trade a growth mindset for a passive and helpless attitude.
I’m not always sure where that line lies. But I’m always searching for it.
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