How Gratitude Creates Dissatisfaction (and that’s a good thing)

Gratitude encourages contentment.  Generally contentment is a good thing.

But there’s a potential downfall of going all in on gratitude: You can mistake its emphasis on contentment with settling for the status quo and not improving yourself and your situation.

But in my humble opinion, you can be full of gratitude, fully content, yet very dissatisfied.

These things can coexist. And that is a good thing.

How Gratitude Encourages Healthy Dissatisfaction and Personal Improvement….

You can have gratitude for your marriage and be content with and fully in love with your spouse, but also be dissatisfied with some of the ways your handle yourself as a husband or wife.

You can be grateful for your children but also be dissatisfied with your current skill level as a parent.

You can be grateful for what you have – your home, your full refrigerator and pantry, maybe a few extras –  but also be dissatisfied with your current financial situation.

As a matter of fact, being thankful for your marriage, kids, and so forth should orient your focus on those things and make you want to grow in those areas because those areas are important to you.

Do you see how that works?

  1. Gratitude clarifies priorities.
  2. Priorities embody what’s important.
  3. And we normally want to continue to improve on, grow, and get better at the things that are important. 

How Being Ungrateful Hinders Improvement…

Being ungrateful and discontent, on the other hand, causes us to yearn for things that aren’t ours or even despise the things we currently have.

Ungratefulness blames and wallows in regret and compares our stuff to others’ stuff and takes no responsibility for improving our own situations.

That’s why gratitude is so helpful. Gratitude shifts our focus to what we can do and what God can do in us, through us, and for us. It makes us content yet willing to solve problems and seek God’s help to improve.

The Perfect Time for Focusing on Improvement

Since this is the end of the year, it’s the perfect time to start considering areas of improvement.

In the free, short ebook Achieve What Matters in 2017 (click here to get your own free copy), marketing and personal improvement trainer and author Ray Edwards references a question he asks himself at the end of the year: “What do I most want to be thankful for one year from now?”

That’s a powerful way to use this practice of gratitude.

Be clear on what’s important and consider what would make you even more grateful in those areas this time next year. A powerful exercise if you do it.

Use that question and the clarifying practice of gratitude to start planning your new year now.

Be grateful. Be content. But be dissatisfied. Use deep appreciation for what you have in your life as a jumping off point for growth and improvement.


One way to start next year well is to consider what other successful folks do to set up their new year for growth.  

Michael Hyatt, one of my virtual mentors (a fellow I’ve never met but who’s taught me a lot about living a prioritized, focused life over the last 7 years), has put together a free ebook called “Achieve What Matters in 2017”.  

This free ebook offers 8 separate practices that are common to high achievers.

Click on this link and download it.

Perhaps you can glean a little wisdom and grab some ideas that can help you start 2017 well. The ebook will only be available for a few days.

He surveyed the likes of Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, and other high achievers, asking them what they do at the end of the year to set themselves up for even better things in the upcoming 12 months.

Encouraging quotes, unique perspectives, and tried and true practices are weave throughout this short, easily digestible ebook.

(Note that this ebook is part of a promotion for one of Mr. Hyatt’s paid programs.  I am an affiliate of this program so any future purchase of the program might result in a commission to me.  Please note that this website costs money to maintain and I do so out of my own funds, but I will promote people and products I use and/or trust if the product dovetails with the purposes and themes of this website.)

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