When Gratitude Isn't Enough, and What To Do About It

There is a difference between Gratitude and Satisfaction.  One year, my "word" for the year was "gratitude".  And it was great.  It was useful.  This year, my word has changed to "satisfaction".  Both are useful, but let me explain what I see as the difference.

They say when you are in struggle, or when you want to feel more joy in your life, or have had a tough road and you need to keep moving forward, to think of GRATITUDE.  To live in the moment, paying attention to each and every thing you have to be grateful for.  One idea is to create a gratitude journal or use a gratitude app, so that you can record the things you have to be thankful for.  This way you can look back on this anytime you want, and it forces you to pay attention and shift the law of attraction to what you're wanting to see more of:  the things you are grateful for.  

Noticing gratitude, being aware of all of the things in your life you have to be thankful for is a wonderful new habit to be trained into.  It is an excellent place to start:  to pause and notice everything around you.  

This year, however, I'm moving into the step that, for me, moves beyond gratitude:  satisfaction.  

This doesn't mean egotistical, selfish pleasing.  Let me explain what I discovered during my gratitude awareness intention and how it's changing me for the now.

I had heard gratitude was the way to ease out of depression, anxiety, and regain balance in a sense of living in the present.  It is, and it does help.  But when you're in a truly dark place of feeling like life is hard, you have struggles, and you have hurts and forgivenesses yet to heal and be had, "gratitude" can have an opposite effect.  When I was in this very dark place, it did help to focus on the things I was grateful for, because I knew there were a lot of them.  Here's the problem:  I didn't FEEL grateful.    I WAS grateful.  I KNEW there were things I was grateful for.  But what was also real was that I was SAD.  And HURT.  And ANGRY.  And didn't know what to do.  There was much I had to learn how to deal with in my new life and find happiness again, or ALLOW myself to be happy.  Being aware of my gratefulness was a great first step.  I have lists of all the things I was grateful for that surprised me when I thought that perhaps I truly didn't enjoy ANYTHING anymore.   But when I didn't FEEL grateful, and knew I was feeling all of these other un-dealt with emotions, all this did was make me feel GUILTY that I couldn't be more happy.  Noticing everything I should be grateful for, and all the good in my life, but it not changing how I FELT just made me feel like an awful person.  What was so wrong with me that I couldn't feel that gratitude in the long lasting way that brought happiness around again?  It can be a hopeless place to be.

Not to mention what if you really DON'T feel grateful?  When I was in the wheelchair, for example, or once our infant Solomon was born early and sleeping, I didn't WANT to see the silver lining.  Even though people would say "yes, but you still have other healthy children", or "at least you're still alive".  It was almost a pandering condescension rather than the well-meaning sentiments I knew they intended.  But there is something about acknowledging the fact that you just, maybe, in that moment, DON'T feel grateful.  

Enter "satisfaction":

Satisfaction is the FEELING of the gratitude.  It is the contented peace and ENJOYMENT that comes from acknowledging the things you are grateful for.  Training yourself to notice your gratitude is a NOTICING and and AWARENESS and sets the stage for one to see anew, rather than see the things that were causing discontent previously.  But NOTICING is different from FEELING.

Even if you train yourself to recognize how gratitude FEELS, it still does not translate into what it means in your life.  Take it a step further:  once you can FEEL gratitude, it means what in your life?  Feeling grateful gives you Satisfaction and isn't that what you were searching for?  When you think of it, why are you reaching towards ANY good feeling emotion?  If you follow the white rabbit, is it because you are looking for peace?  happiness?  joy?  contentedness?  For me, the FEELING of satisfaction is all of these.  It is a peace and gratitude, a quiet contentedness of the ENJOYMENT of how all of these gratitudes I notice FEEL in my life.  

So this year, I'm open to feeling my satisfactions.  To not only acknowledge and notice ALL that is in my life "good" and "bad", but that when I DO feel gratitude and thankfulness, to notice how it feels in my body;  to notice the contentedness, the peace, and the enjoyment....which is all what I was searching for in the first place.  

If you don't feel gratitude, it's almost a guilty punishing you can feel towards yourself.  When you don't feel "satisfied", it's not a statement about YOU, in fact, it's an opportunity to give you ACTION.  What can you do to increase satisfaction?  

Then you can set goals.  Not goals like you've heard to do like new year's resolutions.  When your life feels dull, confusing, boring, stressful even challenging, you can give yourself a goal, which is going to make you feel like you are moving forward SOMEHOW.  

Find something you enjoy, that does bring satisfaction, and vow to do more of it.  For example, if you like to read, develop a reading challenge for yourself to read a number of books in a given time frame.  

If sewing brings you satisfaction, create a challenge to sew everyday for a half an hour.  Or sew a new pattern each month.  Or buy 12 new patterns at the store, challenging yourself to do at least one of each before the year is up.  

Create a countdown chain, a crossoff chart, or a list, so that when you finish it, you can acknowledge the satisfaction you feel in completion and celebrate it through seeing it tangibly.  Take time to FEEL how "satisfied" feels.  

Even if you are a stay at home mom feeling bored with monotony, or the challenges in raising kids, you can always come up with a way to move yourself forward.  For example:  if you feel like you haven't had time to get through cleaning and organizing your house.  Come up with a challenge to complete it.  It will give you focus and something to pay attention to, which will make you have a plan for your day.  Draw a map of your house.  Take a day for each room.  The challenge is to clean and organize each room on the day that you marked it. Then color it in on your map. You will have something to look forward to when you wake up each morning by knowing what your day is about, and the feeling of satisfaction once it's completed.  

Feeling a lack of 'satisfaction' just means that you haven't had a plan for your own happiness and have not created a life in which your satisfaction is paramount. 

Feeling 'satisfaction' means you have an acknowledgement of the gratitude you feel through the sense of peace and contentedness you feel.  When it comes down to it, it's not about our circumstances, our situations, or what we own.  It's about how we FEEL, and I think we all want to feel happy and joyful.  Satisfaction is the feeling you have while enjoying the things you have created in your life.   Feeling 'satisfaction' is the manifestion that happens when you have decided to value your happiness and have made a plan to spend your time in it. 

 

I would LOVE to hear the challenges you have created for yourself.  

This year, I wrote down all the musicians I want to see in concert and where they are playing.  

I also created a book challenge for myself, to read 48 books by the time the year is over, using only what was recommended to me, whether I thought I would like the book or not.  

 

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1 comment

  • My challenge for 2019 is to do 20 minutes of sign language everyday and finish the online course

    Joy Eggert

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