“Discontent is somenthing that follows ambition like a shadow”, said Henry H. Haskins several decades ago. And the truth is that he wasn’t wrong. In today’s society, we are exceptional witnesses of this phenomenon, which manifests itself as never before. In fact, personal and work dissatisfaction has practically become a chronic disease. Why?
A society that generates chronic dissatisfied
A part of the responsibility for the high dissatisfaction quotas that we have reached lies with society. In fact, every day the newspapers and news bombard us with news of the teenager who became a millionaire thanks to a mobile application, the artist who became a star through his YouTube channel or the young soccer player who has been hired by an important team and now has a millionaire contract. However, along with this news, headlines that highlight the ravages of the crisis, unemployment and injustices also appear.
Thus, we live in an era in which, in theory, everything is possible. However, in practice, only a small minority can achieve those dreams. That great contrast, between almost infinite possibilities and an anonymous reality, can generate a deep feeling of dissatisfaction. When the person compares his results with those of the others and does not feel proud of what he has achieved, he often feels dissatisfied.
Obviously, chronic dissatisfaction is not only a social phenomenon but also a personal one. In fact, there are people that we could classify as “permanent dissatisfied”. These people are not able to rejoice over what they have accomplished and keep thinking about the path they still have ahead, they focus on what they don’t have, rather than what they have, and that’s why nothing satisfies them.
It is curious because its ultimate goal is satisfaction but, at the same time, it becomes an elusive chimera that is increasingly farther away. That is why these people set increasingly ambitious goals, hoping that when they reach them, they can finally feel satisfied.
However, what happens is that these people do not seek their personal satisfaction but the approval and appreciation of the others. Chronic dissatisfaction really lays its foundation in deep insecurity. In this way, these people spend a large part of their life feeling envious, bitter and experiencing a feeling of incapacity. They believe that life is unfair and minimize their achievements and are even convinced that they have failed, even if it is not.
The two faces of dissatisfaction
Dissatisfaction is one of the driving forces of behavior. In fact, Oscar Wilde said that “discontent is the first step in the progress of man.”
Dissatisfaction is a sign, it indicates that something is not working well, that we are following wrong references and wrong patterns, or that we are involved in a dysfunctional relationship. In any case, it warns us that we must change something, in order to achieve a state of greater fulfillment.
From this perspective, dissatisfaction is not negative, quite the contrary, it encourages us to change and improve. It drives us to activate our resources to redirect our steps.
However, chronic dissatisfaction is negative since it brings us into a state of permanent displeasure, prevents us from focusing and living fully in the present because we feel that we are not integrated, we are not satisfied with our being, we do not fully accept our identity.
Chronic dissatisfaction implies a fracture between our ideal “ego” and the person we are. Obviously, if we fail to accept ourselves, we will not be happy either.
How to get rid of the state of chronic dissatisfaction?
1. Distinguish the desire from the need. Our society not only drives us to consumerism but also aims to make us believe that satisfaction and happiness come from our possessions. In this way, we have a deadly trap that forces us to run continuously behind things we don’t need. Therefore, the next time you feel dissatisfied, just ask yourself if you are really in need or just experiencing a desire.
2. Look back. From time to time, it is convenient to look back to remember how far we have traveled. Sometimes, when we are too focused on the goal, we forget how much we have achieved and how many sacrifices we have made to get to the point where we are. Remember that sometimes it is not so important what you have achieved but the person you have become along that path, the effort you have made. You may have more reasons to feel satisfied than you imagine.
3. Look around you. It is true that each person is unique and that comparing with the others does not make much sense but the chronic dissatisfied have a limited view of reality because they always compare their achievements with those of the others. This restricted perspective leads them to feel inferior and dissatisfied since, before their eyes, there will always be someone more successful. Therefore, it is also convenient to look in another direction. So we can realize how lucky we have been and feel grateful for what we have.
4. Focus your efforts. A Latin saying says: Lepores duo qui insequitur, is neutrum capit (Who pursues two hares, does not hunt any). Often the dissatisfied chronicles are involved in a series of overly ambitious projects that steal their forces and energy, condemning them in advance to failure. However, so many objectives usually indicate that the person does not know for sure, what he wants from life and has not discovered what really satisfies him. Therefore, an essential step to get away from perennial dissatisfaction is knowing each other, knowing what makes us really happy and focusing on it.
5. Embrace the essential. We are blinded by the amount of possibilities, as well as the endless objects and activities, so we always want more. We have developed a kind of “nervous hunger” that we fail to satisfy. Therefore, from time to time it is important to return to the essential, to embrace tranquility and moments of absolute relaxation. To achieve a more satisfying life it is important to learn to detect the superficial and focus only on the essential.