How Learning To Balance Gratitude and Contentedness Saved My Life

This can’t be life is what I would always tell myself when I was working at my day job in my job in my early twenties. This was around the time when I had just graduated from college. I finished an internship at a major media conglomerate in South Florida when the economy was beginning its climb out of the Great Recession. I was promised a lot of things while at the internship competing with 12 other interns. I was the one selected for a spot on the morning show which was the most listened to (non syndicated) morning show in South Florida at the time.

But again the economy was still recovering and media was changing so the company was budget-strapped at that point. Or so I was told. I kept working the RELATIVELY well paying and stable yet dead end job in which I’d held since my junior year in college I received a hefty promotion upon graduation even though it was completely unrelated to my major.

Was I settling?

Possibly.

I was more concerned about not moving back in with my mother (which I ended up doing later anyway).. The job allowed me to remain in South Florida at a time where people were and still continue to struggle to find employment. I was able to start a marketing business as well as a music blog during the height of the blog era in music. The job allowed me to follow my dreams so it was “good enough”.

The good news is that I was content. I could work this job from 9–5 (ish) and go on to do what I had to do on nights and weekends to keep working towards my then ambiguous goals of working in media in some form.

The bad news was that I was content. I was just taking the situation for what it was. I wasn’t exactly grateful for my situation even though grateful is exactly what I should have been. Being content kept me stagnant for the most part. I didn’t have any kind of fire under my ass. Gratitude would’ve made me better at managing the bad along with the good. During the bad times I would’ve remained more positive than I did because deep down I was grateful for the good aspects of my lifestyle at that point.

When you’re content, you’re merely satisfied with the positive aspects of the situation that you are in. You’re not necessarily thankful for them, rather you are just accepting of things. When the negatives come up you find yourself engulfed in it and unable to remember the positive aspect about your situation because you aren’t truly appreciative of where you stand in the first place.

That’s exactly where I was. I had my days where I didn’t want to get out of bed because I felt stuck for one reason or another. When things got stressful and tense at my 9–5 (and they did often) it would get the best of me. I would find myself bitching and complaining because my sense of stability and contentedness were rudely interrupted.

I wasn’t a man on a mission. I was coasting and on cruise control. When that boat of satisfaction got rocked and I had to steer I wasn’t a happy captain.

What I should’ve been was thankful that I had a boat that was still sailing towards a destination. That way I would’ve known that a wave or two can’t throw me off and I would be in much better mindset to steer the ship effectively and keep my eyes on the destination.

When you’re content you just set sail indefinitely, unclear of your true destination. You may even sail right past your intended destination. Or you jump ship when the seas get a little choppy and your smoothe voyage is interrupted.

Being content will leave you in the same spot for a long time, because as long as things are going fine you’re fine. You won’t even know when it’s time to level up and make a move. And when you are forced to make a move, you may not even want to. You are content. You don’t take the good with the bad, you take the good AND the bad and react to both adversely.

When you’re grateful, you appreciate what you have while being careful to never settle. You appreciate the tools that you are given while understanding that they’re are tools you do not yet possess. This allows you to set your sights on a destination and move towards it. When bad things come your way you are able to navigate them without letting it get the best of you too much. Because you’re thankful. You’re present. You appreciate the things and the people around you all the while knowing you deserve better. You know when it’s time to trade in the old boat for a new one.