How Gratitude Helps You Strive

Reaching Goals

As I woke up this morning, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of well-being. Gratitude for all the things in life that make me lucky: a healthy family, a good home, plenty to eat, happy pets and work I enjoy.

Perhaps ironically, these are the same factors that put me squarely in the middle of a surge of people made less happy, or at least more anxious, by the fact that they have unfulfilled dreams.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, people are straining and striving to achieve creative goals in heretofore unheard-of numbers. More and more, in fact, are deciding to go after our dreams and passions, to respond to the inner urges that drive us and the inner voices that tell us: We can be more.

See, when we’re hungry and just trying to feed our families, or running away from bad guys, or trying to figure out whether the next hurricane will take our home, we don’t have much time to “reach our potential.” But modern life has helped to ameliorate many of these issues, especially here in America.

According to Daniel H. Pink’s A Whole New Mind

  • Two-thirds of Americans now own the homes they live in
  • There are more cars than licensed drivers on American roads, which means on average if you can drive, you have your own car
  • Storage units are booming …
  • … and so is the amount of stuff we throw away

In other words, most of us now live in moderate comfort and have plenty of stuff. Our kids eat, we are more or less employed and we have soft beds. Not everyone, of course, but many people no longer have to worry about these things. Freeing the mind up for more creative endeavors.

Which is a good thing in principle, but can often lead to fulfillment anxiety, when we start asking questions about our life’s meaning, its purpose, whether we’re living it right.

This can be stressful, but why let it? Stress moves us in the wrong direction. It makes us eat maple bars and watch reruns instead of updating our blogs or starting that baking business. So I’ve made a decision. Next time I feel freaked out about not building Rome in a day, I will remind myself how lucky I am to have these fears.

They are, after all, a blessing.

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