In the personal growth world, we talk a lot about gratitude. I write about gratitude often myself. But too much gratitude can be too much of a good thing. Being too grateful can keep you from your dreams.
When you are down on your luck or at an in-between place in your life, it’s a good time to count your blessings and be grateful. When you are feeling blue or feeling like others have more, that’s a great time to remember how much you have. Gratitude can get you through some tough times. It can also help straighten out your priorities.
Gratitude is important for happiness in our daily lives. It can remind you that it’s not the material things in this world that create happiness. It’s the way we live our lives, the way we appreciate our family, friends, health, and environment. The way we love.
But you can’t get into the mindset of always feeling grateful and settling for less. Too much gratitude can hold you back — if you let it. In order to be an achiever, you need to be a little restless and lacking to really go for it.
Life coaching is about helping people achieve their dreams. It’s about removing obstacles that hold you back. And sometimes too much gratitude can keep you in the same place for too long.
This next statement may seem controversial.
I was raised as a Catholic, and I’ve always had a problem with the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. The eight Beatitudes are lovely. They were meant to be a gentler guide than the hard-and-fast Ten Commandments of the old testament. But I found when I was growing up that some people misinterpreted them to mean that you should be poor, that you shouldn’t speak up, or that you don’t deserve to have more. Wanting anything more was “putting on airs.” You should be happy with what you’ve got and be grateful. Full stop.
But there’s more to it than your personal happiness.
Too much gratitude can be dangerous.
Our economy is severely unbalanced. There are underemployed people working in big-box stores that make such a low wage they can barely feed their families without assistance. When I talk to them they are grateful to have any kind of job. But that doesn’t make it right. I’m sure these superstores are super grateful that there are so many people they can exploit and get to work for peanuts.
Too much gratitude, too much of an acceptance of the status quo, can stop people from fighting for their rights. It can put a screeching halt to social change.
It’s dangerous because you can start to think that you’re not worth it. You can start to accept that austerity policies that lead to cuts in social programs, pensions and healthcare are a good thing.
Real change only happens when people are restless and in need.
Gratitude is a blessing up to a point.
You should be able to feel happy with whatever you’ve got, no matter where you are in life. But that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to achieve more, as long as you don’t let the pursuit of your dreams make you unhappy.
So practice gratitude. Be happy in your life and appreciate that you have a roof over your head, clean water and food on the table. But don’t rest on your gratitude. There’s always more. You deserve more. And it’s not a sin to go for it.