What are You Grateful for?
Happiness eludes the determined seeker. We constant identify what is missing and go in pursuit. Driven by an underlying premise that our suffering is caused by lack, we go about trying to fill the hole. Our next purchase, promotion or relationship will solve our discontent. Recognizing absent conditions in our lives is essential for new achievements. The poverty in notable areas of our life needs attention. We notice lack and work to fill it. These achievements often bring temporary joys but not sustained happiness.
Our minds appear programmed to grow—always reaching for more. This contributes to the sense of lack. If we were satisfied in all aspects of our lives, progress would halt. We must balance striving (and exploring) with acceptance and appreciation. We must live with cravings for more without blindly serving some of the senseless demands. For most, we already possess sufficient for our needs. We have shelter over our heads, food to eat and reliable transportation to get us where we need to go; yet we continue to be driven by lack, we want more. If our happiness depends on achieving lasting satisfaction from stuff, positions and grand affections, we get stuck in an unfulfilling cycle—we always want more.
One week, I heard the same friend say, “I would do anything not to have credit card debt,” and, “I am learning to use this new iPad. I needed it for personal business that I can’t do on the work computers.” The desire for zero balance credit cards is admirable but with this friend the desire is disconnected from action. She doesn’t desire to live within her means—she desires zero balances. The sense of lack drives her purchases not the desire for financial stability. The emptiness can’t be filled with an iPad, a car, or a house.
Many motivational whacks pester our self-disciplines with outrageous claims of a benevolent universe anxious to bestow unlimited abundance to those who simply ask. This misleading message distracts from the peace of sufficiency. With the “secret” finally out—just ask and it will be given—we would expect an unusually large influx of new wealth, joyful achievers living in abundance, about to benefit from the new proposed tax cuts. But this has not been the case. Either the world is full of skeptics, like me, or the secret is bunk. A few years following the publishing of the best selling book The Secret, the world was shocked with came recession, many believers lost their houses, retirements and employment.
There is a hungry market scavenging for morsels of hope to fill their sense of lack.
Several years ago, a news report exposed a professional basketball player’s greed, demanding more than the offered five-million dollar single season contract. He complained the offer was ridiculous, “he had a family to feed.” Whether the offer was fair market value or not is debatable but the angry rebuttal illustrates the difficulty with feeling satisfied. There is always more. At what point are we satisfied? Satisfaction doesn’t magically accompany more. Most, compared to our meager salaries, would jump at a five-million dollar offer. But once obtained, we want more. We lift our sights higher noticing the other wonderful things that are missing—the things we don’t have.
True satisfaction doesn’t come from “having” but in “being;” a new being living with acceptance—an attitude that changes our relationship with want and drive; a being that feels abundance, quenching the constant thirst for more.
What are you grateful for?
"Water effortlessly flows through previously dug canals. Our minds naturally wander down the same paths of the past."
Driven by lack, in our capitalistic society, we chase for more at a frenzied pace. The underlying urge to accumulate infects and shapes our society. Missing out grates on our moods and destroys the happiness we hoped we would find. When the idealistic life fails to materialize, we cheat. We cheat at work, we cheat in relationships and we cheat in finances. Like Enron and Worldcom, foundations built on falsehoods eventually crumble, hurting innocent people with the devastating collapse. Instead of solving discontent, we deepen the problems.
The answer is exchanging gratitude for the greed, gratefully acknowledging the blessings of our lives.
Changing habitual thoughts (and feelings) is not easy. Water effortlessly flows through previously dug canals. Our minds naturally wander down the same paths of the past. Changing the flow requires a new attentive approach to redirect. Where the mind wanders, emotions follow. Marketing companies capitalize on the predicted emotions of lack, planting seeds of want, promising refreshing fulfillment. Marketers cunningly convince that their product will make our lives better, supplying faulty gadgets promised to satisfy lack.
We will be fooled no more. We will combat these false claims with healthy practices.
A practice with great success is to purposely acknowledge blessings. Gratitude creates a sense of abundance. A gratitude journal brings attention to surrounding goodness that we already possess. Some meditate, focusing on blessing, while others offer gratitude prayers. All these practices change attitudes and loosen the grip of lack. If we don’t mindfully recognizing what we have, we will be nagged by what we lack. Step back and be grateful.