Self Improvement

Why (and How) You Should Choose Gratefulness Over Greed

posted on August 21, 2018 | by Abby Wolfe

Why (and How) You Should Choose Gratefulness Over Greed

A few weeks ago, I tuned into one of my regular podcasts, “The Lady Gang,” hosted by three smart and sassy females living in Los Angeles. Listening to other people talk soothes me; it helps me escape from my work and get out of my head. And the witty, random banter of this particular podcast often makes me laugh out loud. (Yes, even in public.)

At the start of every episode, each woman runs through the high and low parts of their week. It was during this portion of episode 152 that one of the hosts—Becca Tobin, an actress—said something that hit home.

“I realized that all these years of comparing myself and competing with all these other actresses has completely depleted my ability to have joy,” Tobin shared. “The greediness that I have for wanting all of it has totally clouded my vision and taken away any gratitude I could ever feel. I’ve robbed myself of all of these great moments [in life] because I want more, more, more.”

The concept of gratitude isn’t new to me. As most of us probably know, practicing it can actually, scientifically, make us happier. What I didn’t think about before this episode, though, was the role that greed plays. With those few sentences Tobin said, I recognized just how greedy I’ve been lately.

Three months ago, I moved into a new apartment. It’s almost twice the size of my old one. And yet, all I can think about is how I’d love some outdoor space and an in-unit washer and dryer. Not the fact that I now have my own office and another bed to host guests. Or, you know, that I’m lucky to have a home at all.

How to Choose Gratefulness

Here’s the thing: It’s okay to want things. It’s okay to have goals and dreams and to strive to achieve them. But there’s a line you want to avoid crossing. The one where you start focusing on what you don’t have far too often. The one where jealousy and fear of not being enough take over. Once that line’s crossed, your happiness is threatened. You’re no longer motivated by seeking out things that bring you joy. Instead, you’re motivated by a desire to have what others have, to be better than others are, to have more, more, more.

That desire doesn’t just steal your joy. It steals your satisfaction, your wonder, your pride. It takes away almost every good feeling you could ever feel because nothing is ever enough. And it is absolutely, downright soul-sucking.

But I’m not going to simply advise you to write down a list of three things you’re grateful for every day (That does help, though!). What I am going to tell you to do is to check yourself—consistently.

When you find yourself chasing after something, ask why. Do you find the process of attaining it enjoyable? Will achieving it truly make you happy? Why? Or, are you just trying to check off another box?

If the answer is the latter—if you can’t find a better reason than “just because”—you need step back and take a good look at what you do have. About what you have accomplished. About the people in your life who lift you up.

Find your happiness in that. And as Tobin says, “Choose gratitude, not greed.”