The Case Against Gratitude

I'm allll about gratitude.

Practicing gratitude as a habit has been a game-changer for me.

I even posted on Valentine's Day encouraging people to share their gratitude for work. #CareerCoachNerdAlert 🤓

But there's a dark side to gratitude that no one seems to talk about: when gratitude tips into settling.

It's a fascinating phenomenon. Of course we should recognize our privilege. There are people that don't have access to clean drinking water, let alone a hefty paycheck and good benefits. It's good to feel extreme thanks, especially if it's for a job that others would love to have.

The problem is when that rush of gratitude threatens to keep us stuck:

  • "I have so much already. Maybe a good paycheck is enough."

  • "Maybe it's not realistic to expect my job to make me happy."

  • "My fallback isn't the worst thing in the world."

  • "They call it 'work' for a reason."

Denying yourself what you truly want by telling yourself to be thankful for what you have isn't gratitude. It's settling.

It's closing yourself off to the idea that there's something better for you. And there's likely a story you're telling yourself that it's not okay or "realistic" to want more.

How much inspired action are you likely to take from that place?

Settling is desiring more but stopping before you get it. Guilt and unworthiness take the lead. It's actually the opposite of gratitude: abundance and possibility give way to scarcity and the status quo.

I know because I settled for much of my career. I ignored those inklings that there was something better for years. I perfected the dance between, "I can't take this anymore" one week to, "It hasn't been so bad lately" the next.

Real gratitude leads you to create more in your career: More purpose, more fulfillment, and yes, more happiness. And it's just not true that you to give up the things you're already grateful for to create them.

So what are you telling yourself about wanting more? What are you assuming you'll have to give up to get it?

Once you give yourself space to want more, you'll start to see the options you couldn't before. You'll begin to see how creating more for yourself benefits the very people you care about most. You'll find ways to make the impact you want without sacrificing the stability and security you need.

Raising the bar for your life will help you step across the threshold--from a job you tolerate to a career you love.

So, yes, practice gratitude. Marinate in your thanks for what you already have. 

But look for those areas where gratitude is tipping over into settling…where that voice whispers, "Why can't you just stick it out for a few more years?" 

Comment below and let us know what came up for you.


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Author Bio: 

Before becoming a coach, Caroline worked in management consulting and financial services. She's made it her mission to help people grow, contribute, and get wherever they want to go.

Caroline wants women to recognize how much power they truly have to define their careers. The life and career you want really is possible once you have the roadmap. Take the first step by downloading her free guide.

She’s also a tennis fanatic, aspiring Minimalist, FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early) enthusiast, and Aloha Spirit seeker 🤙. She loves to share stories from her unconventional life and career focused on freedom, creativity, fun, health, family, and community. If she can do it, you can, too.