Unsatisfied ≠ Ungrateful

A Clarification for Friends and Acquaintances


Bidding adieu to another holiday season, I was struck recently by a series of conversations I had with friends and family, both young and old. They all centered on the usual exchanges of how everyone was doing and what their plans for the future might be. When it came my turn to sound off on my current status and hopes and dreams for the future, the upshot was remarkably the same — “You should be more grateful for what you have.”

Now aside from the fact that every single discussion centered on the general well-being of my family (wife and two kids), and I prefaced each answer with my thankfulness for their health and happiness, I answered as honestly as possible with regard to the hoping/dreaming bit.

“…at least you don’t have to deal with traffic.”

While I expected this candor to be met with the usual well-wishing and encouragement, the most common refrains went something like, “…at least you don’t have to deal with traffic,” or “…at least you’ve got a good marriage”, or “…at least you have a job.” At this point, I’d like to pause and advocate 100% for daily meditation on those people and circumstances you’re thankful for. In my case, I do this as part of my morning routine and can say confidently that it is a major reason for my success in the areas of life continually referenced by those close friends and relations above. With that said, I’m still left wondering why some of the greatest people I know seemed so put off when I told them that I was unsatisfied with my current station. Don’t we all continually strive to achieve our goals? Isn’t that what so many dogmatic inspirational posters plastered across the waiting rooms and classrooms of our youth told us to do? It’s the journey, not the destination, right?

All jokes and memes notwithstanding, I think the answer is wholeheartedly yes. Never be satisfied so much to the point that treading water seems like a nice place to end up. I’m all for continual reflection on the gifts our lives provide, but not at the expense of ambition and aspirations. Remaining curious and open to all avenues should be celebrated. “What if?” is a powerful motivator.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also crowns the kings.

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