Prompted: The Contradictory Pursuit of Complete Contentment
Using opposing mindsets to keep ourselves centered
I hope you’re enjoying the end of your weekend and the thoughts/prompts shared below will help you enter a new week with a fresh perspective.
Today we’ll dive into the balance between striving and gratitude and how both play a part in the pursuit of becoming a bit better each day.
As always, thanks for reading!
The Contradictory Pursuit of Complete Contentment
Even though perfection is impossible, we never stop chasing it.
For those of us looking to become a bit better each day, there is a constant battle between enjoying the moment and delaying gratification for the future. There is plenty of advice on both sides of these extremes to justify leaning completely one way or the other.
Hustle and grind culture is telling us to just do it. Work harder, sleep less, think bigger, and don’t stop until you reach your goals.
At the same time, cultural movements like quiet quitting and an increasing focus on mental health are telling us that pulling back is okay, we need to slow down to take care of ourselves, and wherever we are right now is good enough.
Although these messages sound contradictory to one another, combining them is a powerful approach to the pursuit of complete contentment. At the extreme of hard work is burnout and the extreme of acceptance is stagnation. Athletes take a polarized approach to training (combining low-intensity and high-intensity efforts to improve overall performance), and we should take a polarized approach to our pursuit of becoming a bit better each day.
Striving for constant improvement is the first half of the equation. If we’re not searching for new ideas, better strategies, and working hard to improve then we won’t make any forward progress. When we’re constantly moving toward perfection and making sacrifices to get there, we will inevitably become a better version of ourselves.
But perfection is impossible. Despite all the progress we make and goals we achieve, we’ll never reach a point where were completely satisfied with everything in our life. Instead, we adjust to our new baseline and continue pushing forward.
This is why we need a polarized approach. In addition to our constant pursuit of more and better, we need to work to appreciate where we are right now and feel content with our current circumstances. If we’re not happy and grateful today, it’s unlikely that will change in the future regardless of how much “better” we get. Learning to appreciate what we have and where we are in our lives is an important baseline. This allows us to enjoy today even while we plan for tomorrow.
There’s no finish line in life, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to run the best race we can as long as we work to soak in our surroundings and appreciate the opportunity to make it as far as we have each day.
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What are you in pursuit of to achieve complete contentment?
In what ways are you experiencing contentment, gratitude, and happiness in your life right now?
How do these two extremes fit into your life moving forward?
Discipline Equals Freedom - Jocko Willink
A no-BS guide to becoming better.
Radical Acceptance - Tara Brauch
A powerful guide to trusting our innate goodness and developing compassion.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.