Should you be happy with what you’ve got?

“Be happy with what you’ve got.”

Does this mean you shouldn’t aim for more in life and stay in your lane? Does it mean you should lie down and let everyone walk all over you? Should you accept things the way they are, never striving for change and improvement?

The answer is no.

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Appreciation and ambition are two different feelings. They’re not correlated, connected or joined. The confusion develops when we believe they are.

Ambition comes easily to us. It’s in our DNA to always want more. It serves a survival function. The early homo sapiens who were less motivated to search for additional food would perish during hard times. 

The survivors – our ancestors – were those who kept looking for more.

Unfortunately, the world has changed. This genetic urge for more evolved around food gathering. In a world where food is mostly abundant, what “more” actually is has changed.

Survival has fallen out of favour, and that is beautiful. We can now bring in a third variable – appreciation. Without the fear of death and starvation, our ability to make time for appreciation is simpler than ever.

Appreciation actually increases ambition. You go to work to make a living and contribute to society. Appreciation is about seeing everything you have in your job. A stable income, good hours, purposeful work, a great environment, good colleges, enjoyable tasks, and maybe even free coffee.

Appreciation is about returning to this moment and seeing what you have right now. When you do this, you not only find greater pleasure and purpose in what you appreciate but that you also want more. Appreciation only stokes the fire of ambition. Appreciation lets you see the deeper value of your ambitions.

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Ambition without appreciation leaves you with little ambition. All you know is that you want more, which you’re programmed to do. What you don’t know is why your want more. This is the paradox. Appreciation doesn’t weaken ambition; it reinforces it. It allows you to see the greater value of your goals, helping you make greater sacrifices to reach these ambitions.

Ambition without appreciation is a life lost. When you’re always looking up at the clouds, you miss the sunny blue sky below. Be ambitious, be courageous, be anything you want to be, and achieve anything you want to achieve. But first, be here, and that begins with Gratitude and Appreciation.

Don’t get to the end of the rainbow only to discover an empty pot, not realising you had collected all the gold along the way.

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Published in Philosophy, Self Improvement
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