Imagine if all of us agreed with the idea that we should be grateful for what we have and not ask for more, full stop. When we complain about our job, we are asked to be thankful we at least have one while others are desperately seeking employment. When we dream of having a nicer car, we are reminded that many have to resort to unreliable public transportation. When we have a disagreement in our marriage, someone will quickly bring up single people craving meaningful partnerships like ours.
While I do believe that gratitude is essential and is a habit that should be practiced daily, I don’t see any shame in wanting more.
Think about it this way: the more we desire, the more we give. If I desire a better job, I will leave mine for someone who wants it more, and I will add more value in a higher position. If I desire a better car, I will sell my used one to someone who needs it. If I desire more harmony in my marriage, I will find ways to create it and maintain it. If I were to say “thank you for everything I have, I don’t need more”, I am limiting myself and possibly depriving others from improving their lives as well.
If humanity did not desire more, we would still be living in caves, showing gratitude for the stones we used as pillows. If Steve Jobs didn’t crave more, we wouldn’t have all the gadgets that we love to hate. The idea that seeking more is greedy is a fallacy and creates unnecessary inner conflict and guilt for the “seeker”. We can only give what we have, right? So the more we have, the more we can give. It’s quite simple, really.
I have often returned home from holidays and said to a friend or a colleague that I’d like to travel again, only to be met with judgmental looks and comments, implying that I am not thankful, or that I am straight out greedy. But why? Does my traveling deny someone else from traveling too? It’s almost as ridiculous as saying that we shouldn’t sit outside in the sun today so someone else can enjoy its warmth.
Why are we made to blindly follow this “scarcity” attitude, so worried that there’s isn’t enough to go around of whatever it is we are enjoying? It is just not true.
We are limiting ourselves with thoughts of shortage and lack, when the truth is there is plenty to go around.
The effect of wanting more is beneficial for everyone and it’s the natural cycle of life: when we want more, we create more and what we create can be enjoyed by others and not just ourselves. If my neighbor wants to plant more trees, I will enjoy the greenery too. If inventors are never satisfied with their latest inventions, then we can all expect more innovations to keep pouring in. When we think about it holistically, we would be smart to not only desire more, but to also hope that everyone around us does too, so that we can all benefit from our collective desires.
There is so much beauty in the world, and yes some of it is materialistic. I personally enjoy “experiences” more than “things” and would prefer to go on a nice trip than to get a nice watch, but if a nice watch is what you want, then find a way to get it! Wanting more does not mean you’re not grateful. Desire is not the opposite of gratitude.
We do not exist in this world to barely live. We are not only here to work “hard”, study “hard”, live “hard”. There is so much out there to enjoy, so let’s enjoy it, all of it, guilt-free.
So instead of only saying “thank you for everything I have, I am truly grateful”, we should also add “I am open for more and will continue to seek more”.