How Appreciation Can Transform Your Life-Goals
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"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
- Oprah Winfrey
We live in a society that conditions us to always want more. Advertisements encourage us to be dissatisfied with our looks, our possessions and our lifestyles. Celebrity culture has made us value fame and fortune, sometimes disproportionately, and exposure of their seemingly-glamorous lives can make us want to emulate them. Some people will go to any lengths to have the kind of lifestyle their idols appear to live.
It's not just wealth and fame that we envy. Romantic movies or even pornography can make us become dissatisfied with our romantic partner as we compare them to an unrealistic ideal.
Relationships with our family can be strained when they don't match up with our expectations. We can quickly become dissatisfied with our work lives, the size of our homes and what vacations we can afford. Wanting more can sometimes help us to do better, but it can also poison what we actually do have, making us believe it's just not good enough.
Now, don't get me wrong. It is good to be aspirational. Having goals and improving our lives is one of the main things that will transform our lives. But, the key question is whether our goals are serving our true fulfillment.
Do our goals come from a place of dissatisfaction...
...or from appreciation?
These goals will look very different, and will yield different results.
Goals from a place of dissatisfaction are SPECULATIVE. They are based on things we have seen others have, rather than what we have experienced ourselves. We have no way of knowing whether these things will be truly satisfying for us; we are playing a hunch. And quite often, a hunch is wrong! Many people have chased fame and fortune and managed to get to the top, yet found their feelings of unhappiness didn't go away like they thought they would.
On the other hand, goals that come from a place of appreciation are much more reliable. When we build dreams from what we know actually works for us and truly satisfies us, we can have confidence that achieving these goals will bring some degree of fulfillment and satisfaction into our lives.
This difference comes from the fact that when we watch our neighbors or the celebrities on TV, they can make us feel dissatisfaction, but they cannot make us feel deep fulfillment. Dissatisfaction is usually not personal, it is general. It comes from us comparing ourselves to the world within the scope of our society and what it promotes as important. But fulfillment comes from a much deeper place. What makes us feel true satisfaction is personal to us. When we focus on appreciation, our goals become more personalized to us, rather than generalized goals inspired by society convincing us we need more.
So how do we make sure our goals are from appreciation rather than dissatisfaction?
Put your goals on hold for a while. These could be relationship, career or even self-development goals.
This doesn't mean you should stop working towards them or dramatically change your life. It means that to stop dreaming or thinking about them as much as you can will change your perspective on them. For a set period of time, say a week, try to focus on the theme of appreciation. Minimize the amount of thought, energy and expression you give to dissatisfaction, and instead channel it into gratefulness. Being in this space should improve our feelings of wellbeing and have a powerfully positive impact on our relationships, although it will take a bit of practice to redirect our thoughts and feelings.
Once gratitude and appreciation come more easily to us, any goals we might have set out of dissatisfaction will look less and less important. We can discard these, as they have not originated within us, but been imposed from outside, and therefore will not bring us real satisfaction. There will likely be many goals that still remain relevant, though, and now we can strive towards these in confidence that we will not be disappointed when we reach them. Our personal growth and self-development will now be much more powerful because our goals will be personalized around what really touches us on the deepest level. Appreciation will bring the birth of new powerful dreams and goals into our lives.
- Iman Mohiki