Appreciation vs. Progress

The Dilemma:

A tough balance to strike exists between appreciating your present circumstances and seeking to advance them. On the one hand, it is important to appreciate what we have. Anyone can find countless aspects of their life to be thankful for and being thankful for what we have is a fundamental component of happiness. However, on the other hand, one should also continually seek progress and avoid stagnation. Contentedness is the enemy of progress, but discontentedness may be the enemy of happiness. When does the seeker of progress stop? When is it enough?


One possible answer is rooted in the appreciation of oneself. Perhaps it is appreciative of our unique human potentials to seek self-actualization. This approach is less about balancing the two and allowing appreciation and progress to work hand in hand. However, this approach doesn’t necessarily lead to any practical answers. It is probably best to examine this question using more tangible examples.

Example 1: A Job

One has a job that they no longer feel they are growing from or enjoying. Should one seek a new job or simply try harder to appreciate and improve at the job they have?

Example 2: A Relationship

A relationship is no longer working out. Should one discard the relationship and seek to forge a new one or try to remedy and better appreciate the existing one?

Example 3: A Computer

One has a computer but a new, shinier computer has just been released. Should one discard their existing computer or simply appreciate the fact that they already have one?

These examples are far too vague to be useful; however, they demonstrate the difficulty of the dilemma. In some cases, we are not appreciating ourselves and working towards self-actualization if we do not break free from the things that are truly holding us back. But the question emerges of where exactly we draw the line.


One of the central tenets of Buddhism is that desire fades. Willing the world to be any different than it is leads to suffering and therefore should be avoided. In this case, appreciation would likely be placed above progress in terms of importance.

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