This is something I feel is very important for each of us and I’m going to get a bit personal about it because I have seen what it can do to lives, including my own at times.
My long-time girlfriend and I recently mutually ended a relationship that we experienced together for five years. During that relationship I had gone through moments where I wondered, “Is this it? Is this what a long-term relationship should feel like?” I was twenty two years old when the relationship began, so I was still learning what being in a long-term relationship really meant.
Not knowing what something should truly feel like, especially since everyone is different (and in the end it only comes down to your own true feelings about something), I allowed my mind to play at various points over the five years. Sometimes I would feel like I wanted more, that maybe I wasn’t getting enough out of the relationship and so it wasn’t right for me. I thought maybe there wasn’t enough excitement or things to do or to talk about, and I wondered, should there be more? I reflected on these questions and remained open to how I felt. But of course at times that feeling of discontentment would still creep in.
On the flip side, from my perspective, my partner had challenges in the relationship as well. At times she would experience similar thoughts as myself, but also she felt like not enough was happening in life for it to be enjoyable or fun; that more needed to happen and needed to be happening often or else things would be boring. I think this is actually something many of us go through in life and it can be the reason why we’re always searching for external stimulation.
To be clear, it isn’t that we should be doing nothing; a look at my own life would make it clear that I do not feel this way at all, but I believe we shouldn’t have such a hard time finding peace and joy within ourselves that we cannot be content when faced with stillness, solitude, or routine.
Struggles With Discontentment
How many times have you heard people look at others and say, “I wish I was like that” or “I wish I had that, was doing that or could have that”? Behind many of these statements is a feeling that makes it clear that the person is not content with their current life and situation. You might be asking, what is so bad about that? I’ll explain the never-ending challenge with this mindset.
For the purposes of this piece I want to clearly define contentment. I’m not saying we should settle or not strive for something we dream of or love to do, but I believe we should ultimately find peace within ourselves as we go or we will forever be searching for excitement or stimulation outside ourselves. If we don’t find this internal satisfaction, our minds and egos will always be searching for more, and things we have or experience will never be enough.
Instead of going through an experience fully, taking it in and enjoying it from a place of peace, we will instead go through that experience to fill a void. Although we may not recognize it, that’s often a big part of why we get caught up in wanting to do things that everyone else is doing. You could say our entire consumer culture, including the “American dream,” is based on preying on the discontentment people feel inside.
Again, I believe in doing things, experiencing life, having adventures and trying new things, but I believe we will experience a lot more peace and joy from these experiences, and our regular, day-lives, when we are able to do them from a place of contentment within ourselves as opposed to doing them because we are not content with our current lives.
I say ‘unlearning’ because I believe deep down, beneath all the stories and struggles we each have within us, we are already at peace — are content and are experiencing joy. These feelings and states of being are simply covered up by all of our ego desires and belief systems of what we must do to experience these states.
I’ve learned over the years of exploring myself that the only thing I can control about life is how I feel about it. I’m not talking about emotions here, more so feelings. I, and we, are not a victim to our emotions and the belief systems which throughout the course of our lives. We have a choice about what we want to believe is ‘us,’ and the more we recognize that, the more power we have to find happiness in our lives.
As we become aware of how this all plays out within ourselves, we have a chance to unlearn these emotions and states of being that are stuck in discontentment. When we unlearn it, we reveal the peace that is already there. To me, this is the simplest way to experience peace as opposed to artificially trying to create it in other ways. Simply remove the source of the issue.
What To Take From This
- Much of the discontentment we feel comes from comparing our lives and situations to those of other people.
- Feeling like you want to change your life or do something you are passionate about isn’t the same as not being content. Discontentment is only the state of mind you are in when looking at your current situation.
- Make it a habit to become aware of your discontentment and work to remove the stories that cover up the natural contentment we already have within us.
- If we do not take the time to move beyond the stories of discontentment, we will forever be stuck in the perpetual chase for more. We will never attain true happiness.
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