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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

A Season of Discontent

In New York City last week, the sidewalks were rampant with people, as usual. But I noticed something different this time. It wasn’t just business as usual. A shroud of disillusionment seemed thick in the air. Many people appeared restless.

I realize you're probably asking, "Who in New York City doesn’t seem restless?"

But this was different.

At a corner Starbucks, I claimed a seat by the window. Enthralled, I continued to watch people. Who knows how many went by me, oblivious to my observation. Suddenly it struck me. In the flowing sea of hundreds of faces – there seemed to be a common thread. It was an absence of contentment; a look of dissatisfaction.



I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those people longed for better circumstances, for something more desirable than their present situation.

Are You Discontent?
What about you – if you were in that pool of people, would I have seen the same look on your face? Take a short inventory to gauge your level of contentment. This quiz doesn’t need a score – your answers easily reveal the truth. Either you are living a satisfied, content life, or you are fighting disillusionment with your current situation.

1. Are you restless, dissatisfied, or disgruntled – with no apparent reason?

2. Are you easily irritated – have you found yourself snapping at loved ones?

3. Do you long for better circumstances – are you stifling a yearning for something more?

4. Do you find yourself rebellious – are you questioning the old way of doing things?

5. Do you feel frustrated, defeated, or discouraged – without a logical explanation?

6. Are you angry that you find yourself complacent with mediocrity?

Many people voice a considerable amount of discontent with their daily lives. Admittedly, I have weathered a season of great dissatisfaction and restlessness – many of them. Yet, sometimes there are valid reasons for discontent in our lives. We could be facing an uphill battle with unemployment, illness, or loneliness. Many events could pull us to a point of disillusionment.

Can Discontent Be Resolved?

While there are varied reasons for discontent in our lives, it doesn’t mean that the season has to be long and dark. Discontent is not always a bad thing. It doesn’t have to crush our spirit.

I am learning not to view discontent in my life as a negative. If handled correctly, it can become the driving force that propels me forward. Your current situation may be miserable, but you don’t have to stay there. There are steps you can take to bring resolution.

1. Understand that discontent often serves as a prerequisite to advancement.
Sometimes we have to go through a season of discomfort to get us out of complacency. A nagging sense of discontent should be respected, not ignored. It can be the vehicle to motivate us to do something different to get out of our current circumstances.

2. Recognize the importance of the journey.
The lessons we learn – persistence, endurance, and character – are taught best in the midst of a difficult journey. It’s an essential, necessary process.

3. Don’t accept the defeat of discontent.
Sometimes anger is a good thing. A passionate righteous anger is a motivating force. If we get to a point of extreme frustration with our circumstances, we will do whatever it takes to get out.

4. Be courageous to overcome fear.
People will often remain in a state of discontent because a fear of change paralyzes them from taking action. Don’t be afraid of the unknown.

5. Remember that forward motion eventually breeds success.
You have to pair action with your complaints. If you have a partner who will bend a sympathetic ear to all you’re going through – that’s a wonderful comfort. But you can’t stop there. You must learn to take positive, forward steps that will bring you out of your current situation.

Discontent: The dictionary speaks of it as an absence of contentment, dissatisfaction – but I view it as a drive, a motivating force, a good thing.

The next time I see throngs of discontented people on a busy sidewalk, I’ll have to remember they’re just a work in progress. Like the rest of us, they are simply on a journey to a better place.

A quick side note - my column will be on hiatus for the month of September, so I look forward to reconnecting with you on October 7, 2006.

Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: A Better You is published every Saturday.



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