“Half of our lives is desire, and the other half is dissatisfaction.” – Carlo Dossi
Over the past 25 years, I have been reflecting on something I refer to as “chronic discontentment.” While this has been part of the human condition since forever, from my personal perspective, it seems to be growing, and I am not immune to it either. In the book of Proverbs, the writer succinctly describes it this way, “Human eyes are never satisfied.” Here are some examples of chronic discontentment that I have heard many times as both a consultant and a pastor:
- “My employees aren’t good enough.”
- “My boss isn’t good enough.”
- “My job isn’t good enough.”
- “My co-workers aren’t good enough.”
- “My salary isn’t good enough.”
- “My spouse isn’t good enough.”
- "My house isn’t good enough.”
- “My church isn’t good enough.”
- “My car isn’t good enough.”
- “My looks aren’t good enough.”
Discontentment is often the result of comparing ourselves to others. At some level, comparison can result in good outcomes. It can motivate us to improve, grow, and change. However, comparing ourselves to others can also produce an insatiable craving for something else. Something better. Something more than what already is. I have noticed that when you are discontent in one area of life, let’s say marriage, it can creep into other areas of life like being unsatisfied with your job or feeling underpaid. In other words, it is easier to blame your employer for your discontentment than your spouse. Is there an antidote for chronic discontentment? Try these three things:
1. Look inside before looking outside.
Our goals are outside of us. They are the result of our internal drive or motive. If you are chronically discontent – in a way that you or others feel may be unhealthy – it is best to start internally with the question “why?” Why am I not satisfied? What is it inside of me that never settles down? Why can’t I enjoy and celebrate what I do have?
2. Get another perspective.
We need wisdom to discern between when discontentment is a benefit and when it is unhealthy. Often, wise counsel from a good friend or professional coach can help us discern the difference including whether it is producing healthy results or damaging results.
3. Find a healthy role model.
Remember that contentment is something that can be learned. While sitting in a prison cell after losing almost everything, the Apostle Paul says he learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Real, lasting learning often requires change in the way we think as well as some experimentation and coaching from good role models.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.