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When you feel guilty for wanting more than you have

wanting more

When was the last time you had the thought, “I know I should be grateful for everything I have … so why do I still feel so unsatisfied?”

I’ve been hearing that question more and more over the past few years, especially since we’ve all been so inundated with information about the power of gratitude. Every personal-growth guru out there is preaching that the way to happiness is through gratitude for what you already have, and for good reason.

I’ve certainly kept my fair share of gratitude journals over the years, and I try (and mostly succeed) to focus more on what I’m thankful for than on what I wish would change.

Believe me, I’m as big of a proponent of gratitude as anyone — it really can transform your outlook on life. And most of us, particularly those of us living in first-world countries with ample food, water, shelter, safety, freedom, etc., have a lot to be grateful for.

But there’s a shadow side that can sometimes come with gratitude that most people aren’t talking about or even aware of.

WHEN GRATITUDE GOES BAD

Feeling like you “should” be grateful for everything in your life, especially when you consider how many people in the world have far less than you do, can cause you to neglect and feel guilty for your desires.

When you’re aware of how much you have going for you — your health, great friends, supportive family, decent job, a roof over your head — wanting something more or better can make you feel selfish and greedy.

I can’t tell you the number of clients who have told me, “I feel bad for not loving my job. There are a lot of great parts about it, and I know some people would kill for this job, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I feel guilty for wanting more than this.”

This guilt over wanting more than you have and trying to shame yourself into feeling grateful for things that don’t really light you up … well, I believe it’s created an epidemic of toleration (which Rachel wrote about last week).

Genuine gratitude is one of the most powerful forces out there, but it was never intended to shame you into settling for a career or life that’s “good enough.”

YOU CAN’T GET SICK ENOUGH TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE GET WELL

Most of us act like there is a finite amount of success, happiness, health, and wealth in the world.

I know, at least for me, when I’m considering everything I’m grateful for, I can’t help but compare my life to people who have far less than I do — people who are homeless, suffering from life-threatening illnesses, living in warzones, and going hungry.

When I think of everything I have compared to those people, I feel like, “Who am I to want more?? I already have WAY more than my fair share.”

The guilt makes me want to shut up, be grateful, and never ask for anything ever again. It even makes me wish I could give some of my happiness and health and success away to those who need it more than me.

But it doesn’t work like that, and in fact, that’s completely backward logic because these are not finite resources.

There’s not a pool of all of the available happiness or health in the world that all of us have to share. You can’t take “more than your fair share” because there’s an infinite amount that will never run out.

You being unhappy doesn’t help anyone else get happy. You being sick doesn’t help anyone else get well. You not pursuing your dream job doesn’t help anyone else find career satisfaction. You being poor doesn’t help anyone else have enough money.

IN FACT, THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE

The more you have, the more you have to give.

When you quit your job to pursue a career that lights you up, you open up a spot for someone who considers your current position their dream job.

When you’re happy and fulfilled, you radiate that out and naturally bring positivity to others who need a boost.

When you become successful, you gain the experience to mentor others along their own path to success.

When you’re healthy, you have the energy and vitality to help heal others.

When you’re prosperous, you can use your money and resources to give back to your community and support charities you believe in.

So by asking for more than you currently have, you’re not being selfish or greedy — you’re increasing your own quality of life so you can help others do the same.

GRATITUDE + DESIRE

Feeling grateful and having desires are not opposites. You can be grateful for what you have AND want more.

In fact, one without the other is pretty unhelpful. Gratitude without desire can lead to guilt and stagnation, and desire without gratitude can lead to chronic unhappiness. You need both.

So how can you find a balance between the two?

Feel gratitude for as much as you can be genuinely, truly thankful for. If you find yourself forcing gratitude about something when you don’t really feel it, that’s OK — it just means there’s a desire hidden under there that deserves your attention. Respect that and allow yourself to fully feel your desire so you can act on it.

 Being grateful doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want more. Gratitude + desire is the key to happiness.

Now tell me, have you felt guilty for not being “grateful enough” and for wanting more than you have? What do you think about this new perspective on gratitude? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts and personal experiences — I’d love to hear them!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:

IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

How to get over your first-world guilt

Why I love jealousy (and you should, too)

Everything I stopped feeling guilty for in 2016

Lessons on happiness from our favorite cashier

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)


LET US HELP YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR PASSION

If you’re ready to acknowledge your desires (or figure out what they are in the first place!) and you’d like to spend 4 weeks getting unstuck, figuring out your passion, and getting clear on your direction … then we hope you’ll consider joining us for the next round of our online program, The Passion Plan Virtual Experience.

Enrollment opens Tuesday, January 31st (two weeks from today!), and we’re only running this program twice this year. We won’t do it again until the last quarter of 2017.

If you’re curious to find out more, then join our VIP list. You’ll be one of the people who gets alerted when enrollment is open, and you’ll get a discounted early bird price.

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The danger of living a life that’s OK, but not great

OK

The following is a trick question:

Would you rather feel miserable, or would you rather feel neutral?

I get it. No one really wakes up in the morning wanting to feel miserable. If you had your choice between feeling misery — you know, the existential angst and the “I can’t do this for one more day” kind of stuff — and feeling indifferent, we all know which one of those sensations sucks less. Feeling neutral about your circumstances may not be fun, but it’s not awful.

And honestly … that’s exactly the danger of feeling neutral.

Like it or not, misery is motivating. If you feel like crap, you’re more likely to have a fire lit under you. You have nothing left to lose (since you can’t really feel worse), so you’re more willing to take risks and make changes and do something.

But when life is “just OK” … there’s practically zero motivation. And without any sort of big incentive to change, you can find yourself stuck in a no man’s land — where life isn’t getting worse, but it’s not getting any better either — for years.

Whereas misery … most people can’t tolerate misery for months, let alone years. Which means people tend to rebound after hitting rock bottom. But if you never hit it, you can’t rebound. You just sort of float above it, indefinitely.

HOW MANY OF THESE BOXES DO YOU CHECK?

You can be pretty sure you’re stuck in neutral in some area of your life if:

  • When people ask about your job (or anything else), you say: “I mean, it’s fine. I don’t hate it.”
  • You have a hard time actually feeling things. There are no high-highs, and no low-lows. You just sort of … exist.
  • You feel like you live mostly on autopilot.
  • You’ve found yourself saying, “Well, there’s nothing wrong …” (But nothing is right, either.)
  • You’re doing a good job of surviving, but you don’t feel like you’re thriving.
  • You have a long list of things you’re tolerating and very few things you love.
  • You find yourself rationalizing and justifying why you tolerate certain things.
  • You don’t feel like rocking the boat or taking a risk because you’re afraid things could get worse.
  • You can’t remember the last time you felt consistently energized, inspired, or motivated.

I like to think of indifference as a pebble in your shoe.

Because it seems like it’s no big deal, you don’t do anything about it. But when you leave it in there, eventually your gait changes to accommodate the pebble.

After a while, you forget about the rock. Until one day you wake up with terrible back and hip problems, and you can’t figure out why you’re suffering.

The longer you tolerate something, the more harmful it becomes.

SO … WHY DO WE TOLERATE THINGS THEN?

Our human instincts make it very easy to tolerate, settle, and never rock the boat.

We all have the “lizard brain” — the part of our programming that hasn’t evolved in the past 10,000+ years. And the lizard brain is only concerned with keeping you alive.

It doesn’t care about your joy, your self-actualization, or your purpose in life. It doesn’t even know those things exist.

All it cares about is making sure you don’t die, and to its credit, it does its job really well.

The more you take risks, rock the boat, and refuse to settle, the less “safe” your lizard brain thinks you are. It feels nice and comfortable to settle into a life of neutrality and indifference because it’s far less likely that you’ll ever get hurt, be ostracized, or die some sort of painful death in that space.

It’s hard to do the opposite of what your deepest instincts tell you to do. Which is why so many of us never grow, change, or evolve.

It’s safe to live an “autopilot” kind of life. And if that’s the life you choose, you’ll do an excellent job of surviving … but you’ll never know what it means to thrive.

SHORT-TERM PAIN VS. LONG-TERM GAIN

In my experience, getting out of a state of indifference has a lot to do with focusing on the long-term more than the short-term.

Long-term, I don’t know anyone who wants to be on their deathbed thinking, “I mean, my life was just OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.”

Personally, that thought terrifies me. Because if that’s how I end up, it will only have been my own fault. It will mean that I settled, that I tolerated way too much for way too long. And I could have done something about it, but out of fear or laziness or whatever… I never did. No thank you!

But most people aren’t thinking that way. They’re thinking about the short-term pain, not the long-term gain.

Short-term, it feels unnecessarily risky to leave a job that’s OK, but not great.

Short-term, it doesn’t make logical sense to invest half of your savings into a trip around the world.

Short-term, there’s no point in rocking the boat in your relationship, when nothing is really bad.

HERE’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO

If you’d rather thrive than survive, experience joy rather than neutrality, actively love your life instead of tolerate it, and feel motivated instead of uninspired, there’s one big shift you must make:

You must fear having a mediocre life more than you fear making change.

If this is something you can get behind, then go ahead and make that list of things you’re just tolerating. It could be as small as “that pile of bills I haven’t sorted through” or as huge as “everything about my job.”

Then I want you to pick one (preferably the one that feels the easiest to change), and do something about it.

Schedule 30 minutes on your calendar to sort through your bills. Crunch the numbers to find out how much it would really cost to take that trip around the world. Spend 20 minutes Googling “marriage counseling” and make an inquiry with someone who sounds like a good fit.

It only takes a tiny bit of effort to get momentum going. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can rise above toleration, it’s easier to find energy for the things that seem more challenging.

IF YOU NEED ACCOUNTABILITY, WE’RE HERE FOR YOU

One of the reasons we end up in a zone of indifference, even if we don’t like that we’re there, is because it’s hard to motivate yourself to make changes without any outside support or accountability.

Or maybe your problem is that you don’t know what you’d rather be doing, so can’t make any progress until you figure it out. You’re in a catch-22, so you do nothing.

Either way, it’s a lot easier and faster to get unstuck when someone’s helping you do it (and expecting you to follow through).

So, if 2017 is the year you’d like to thrive instead of just survive, and you’d like some expert guidance and accountability to make sure it happens for you, then we hope you’ll consider joining us for the next round of our online program, The Passion Plan Virtual Experience.

Enrollment opens Tuesday, January 31st, and we’re only running this program twice this year. We won’t do it again until the last quarter of 2017.

If you’d like to spend 4 weeks getting unstuck, figuring out your passion, and getting clear on your direction, then join our VIP list. You’ll be one of the people who gets alerted when enrollment is open, and you’ll get a discounted early bird price.

So … what about you? I want to hear what you’re tolerating, and what you’re going to do about it, in the comments!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Rachel reading this week’s blog:

IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

What to do when you don’t feel inspired

How to break free from doing what’s “logical” & do what you want, instead

Do you actually hate your job? Or are you experiencing burnout? How to tell the difference.

What it really means to “waste your life”

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

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