Is our drive to make changes in our lives purely down to a lack of gratitude?
Is it the case that the grass is always greener on the other side?
I think perhaps not. I think it is probably human nature to strive for more, and we should not suppress those urges.
Having said that, it is certainly true that we can drastically alter our quality of life simply by how we choose to look at it.
My theory is that we could look at the problem of balancing appreciation and growth by looking at how they relate to the long and the short term.
I have certain dissatisfactions with my life, and I am making changes to address them.
However this is a long-term process. These changes are not going to take effect tomorrow, and I should not wait for them to take effect to be happy.
And I think this is where appreciation comes in. This is where we need to do some mental re-shifting to see the good in our current situation.
Because, it is often the case that there is a lot of good in our life. We're just not always very good at seeing it.
The good stuff requires no action. I don't need to do anything about the fact I have a healthy body, a loving family and a roof over my head, and actually, work that is already reasonably fulfilling. It is the bad stuff that requires action, and that could be why we tend to focus on it more.
An example might help to make my point: Here's an excerpt from my notepad from last week.
"A few hours ago I walking home feeling sorry for myself. It is Friday night and I am spending it alone, whilst my flatmate is out with his girlfriend doing what many people do and enjoying his weekend.
It is a substantial dissatisfaction for me that this isn't a rare occurrence, and that I lead a relatively solitary existence. It is one of the primary reasons that I am looking to make some changes in my life. And I am working on these changes. That is my long-term, growth-focussed strategy at work.
But that strategy is not going to save me now. I am here alone, and lamenting that fact is going to get me nowhere.
So, right now, I need the short-term, appreciation strategy. This is where I need to focus on what I do have, and what is going well. Apart from anything else, isn't it fantastic that I can afford to be sat here in this nice flat, at a table with a note pad, a pen and a glass of wine. That I have the time to sit here and write and express myself? "
And all of a sudden, I was really pleased that I was spending the night alone. I had time and space to myself to create and to experience a state of flow. The appreciation card had worked wonders. (Admittedly the wine might have helped...)
And so, to answer my original question, I think that, put crudely, ambition and growth works for us for the long-term, appreciation helps us in the now.
Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this readers. What do you reckon?