Op-Ed
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Op-Ed

Thanks begets thanks

The moment we become are fulfilled, we subconsciously realize things could be worse.

Photo by Danist Soh on Unsplash

As creatures of habit and routine, humans fall very easily into the idea that setting certain conditions will result in the same outcome, but this external world has so many variables that conflict with that idea. Some will chase desires like a hamster on a wheel, constantly running after what is already theirs: happiness. We treat it like its a place to return to as opposed to a mindset to inhabit. We look for it outside of ourselves rather than manifesting it from within. Sometimes we even do things that we know will upset us because we hope to repeat a situation or encounter that will make us happy again only to be met with disappointment.

However, I think its important that we use the desires as short term destinations to keep us motivated. We just can’t get stuck at that buoy, afraid to let go in order to begin swimming again. Once we’ve savored moment, we should be willing to let it go, while still remaining grateful it occurred. The ability we have to appreciate is completely dependent on how present we were when experiencing the joy of satisfaction. Which takes me back to how important it is that we have the reference point of pain to feel gratitude.

That hamster wheel analogy is a description of our mindset. Allowing our racing thoughts to pilot this vessel of the body means we don’t just miss out on the moment, we allow scarcity and lack to be our driving force. In the buoy analogy, its like swimming halfway out into the abyss and allowing the fear of not finding another force us to return to where we were. This is what addiction looks like. We’ve chosen a state we like to be in and will even abandon long term goals in order to feel good again.

I wonder if delaying gratification is less of a way to deprive ourselves, and more of a way to remain in a perpetual state of limbo. When we don’t know what will happen, we can still have hope. It requires we stay engaged and conscious, meaning we can’t just set our sights on a goal and turn on the autopilot function. When we stay open to all possibilities, we can use our imagination to navigate the ship instead of using a boring instruction manual. The moment a decision is made, we lose the ability to create a different result in our mind.

Still, sometimes those decisions need to be made and action needs to be taken. Its important when we do ultimately make a decision that we’ve taken a considerable amount of time to evaluate whether the move actually brings us joy, or if we see it as a means to an end goal. Thinking within this framework means we have to have no expectations, and instead must feel our way through all the static of wants. Our overall well-being should be our North Star, which can certainly be accompanied by things we’ve long desired. Its just a subtle mind shift that replaces the desire with actions that lead us to even greater prosperity.

I suspect this is why its so helpful to be grateful in every moment. When gratitude becomes the standard operating procedure, there isn’t much that can bring us down. I would even argue that being thankful is greater than being fulfilled. We can stay suspended in appreciation for all that we have which will lead us to even more of that good stuff.

Originally written in Collection Journaling at The Stoa

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