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Be Grateful for What You Have While Striving For All that you Could Have

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who compare themselves to a better version of themselves and those who feel that they’ve conquered the world when they successfully tie their shoelaces every morning.

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( Stuart from MADTV ) 

The world we live in is all about perception. You can tell a lot about a person from the way they perceive themselves in relation to the world around them. This is where the difference between low self esteem and confidence comes in. A confident person has a realistic perception of where they stand in relation to the rest of the world. A person with low self esteem, however, has a false sense of this relationship.  The way we view ourselves controls the way we react to life’s obstacles.

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When something goes wrong and someone tells me that “it could be worse,” I feel as if they are insulting my emotional intelligence. “It could be worse,” is a phrase used by psychologists when treating depression during cognitive therapy. Cognitive Therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression. I know this from research and personal experience with acquaintances that live with depression.  For someone who lives with depression, the response to a roadblock is always, “It could be worse.” And who can blame them? This is what they were taught. It is the easiest form of reminding someone that they should be grateful. Gratitude is the first step towards happiness.  However, there is a reason why it is the first step and not the only step.

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Once you have the knowledge to enable yourself to feel gratitude, the next step towards happiness is in the striving. Part of the human condition is constant striving. When we have no goals, we have no life.  Buddhist monks who work towards contentment are constantly striving towards a deeper level of that perception. The reason they don’t strive for happiness is because it takes them away from contentment. We also should not confuse striving for our dreams with striving for happiness. When we strive for our dreams, we automatically become happy. However, striving for happiness often causes dissatisfaction.

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In the striving is a risk. The risk of failing always lies ahead. A documentary on Japanese suicide determined that the main causes of suicide were pressure and the inability to pursue dreams. Wouldn’t you rather take the chance in knowing that it could be better and see it for yourself?

The knowledge that things could always be worse only serves those who have difficulty with gratitude.  If you are grateful for all that you have, you do not need to be told that things could always be worse. When you are completing a project that fails, it is because you already have the basic necessities in life. In order for me to even begin a non life-threatening objective, my basic needs have to be met. I am grateful for all that I have, however I live my life looking up, never looking down. The only reason you should be looking at your poor neighbor’s bowl is to see if they have enough food in it so that you may give from your own. One must never look at someone who is worse of for the purpose of comparison or self-gratification. This is not gratefulness. It is false empathy.

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(Luis CK)

Being grateful should not require you to see those struggling to survive without physically assisting them. Be grateful for what you have while striving for all that you could have. In yoga there are many poses where an inhale indicates a bend at the knees, while an exhale asks us to reach our hearts toward the ceiling. The grounding and reaching occur at the same time.

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In life, perception is everything. Perceiving the world for what it is will get you far. The trick is to remain grateful while constantly reaching for all that you can grasp. The secret to happiness is to never be satisfied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 Comments

  1. alexkx3

    It’s amazing how often we forget how lucky we are. I was on a plane and a guy was complaining that his seat didn’t go back far enough. I said to him (in my reserved British mind) that you’re flying through the air at 600 miles an hour, covering distances that used take years in hours, whilst drinking wine and watching movies. Even the most powerful people of only 100 years ago couldn’t even dream of that, and yet you’re not satisfied.

  2. I am totally in agreement with all you have said. But you managed to put these complex thoughts in such an eloquent prose. How wonderful!
    By serendipity I just wrote a blog about gratefulness and how the perception of it changes my daily life: http://wp.me/p1HqqC-gg

  3. Great post and yes! you should never use your gratitude for what you have as an excuse to feel better than others. Rather realise that with all the gifts and good fortune you have, you can make other peoples lives better by passing on your gift of love and compassion! Which is exactly what your post did!

    • Thank you for your beautiful words! I think a lot of people like to believe that they are good people to feel superior which defeats the purpose. Its great to have others understand where I am coming from.

  4. Pingback: Best Blogs 13 June 2014 | ChristopherinHR

    • Thank you for sharing Christoper! It means a lot to me to have people understand and connect with my writing and sharing it to those they care about.

  5. yajeeb

    Looks like i’ve made the correct choice in coming across to wordpress. This is wonderfully well written piece. Keep up that PMA.

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