How I Manage Stagnation: Gratitude and Willful Discontentment

In the last seven or so years, I started acknowledging to myself that I was grateful for the life I had. When this thinking first started, I was a 25-year-old grown man living with my parents. I never had a real girlfriend, and I could never get a date. When I wasn't working my part-time job, I was spending all day playing video games. Many would argue that's not a life worth being grateful for, but somewhere along the line I desperately needed to be optimistic about something.

So I became grateful for the things that were going well. I had a job that allowed me to support myself. I spent the majority of my time having fun with friends online. I was not bound to the stresses and limitations of being in a relationship. Outside of the obligation to my job and the limits of my finances, I was a free man. Being grateful shifted my perspective around my life, which soon gave me a boost of confidence because I started to become comfortable with my life.

Being comfortable with my life meant I was no longer feeling down on myself for not being educated or having any modicum of success. I was grounded with who I am, which freed my mind. Instead of being bogged down by thoughts of how mediocre I was, I was liberated to a frame of mind where I could think, "How can I improve my situation?"

Yes, I was grateful for where I was, but that doesn't mean I was content with it. Over the years, I've learned that our discontentment drives us as humans with improving ourselves and the world we live in; as a response, we are driven to improve ourselves and the world we live. I found for myself that this discontentment was a hindrance until I paired it with gratitude. Now that I am grateful for what I have, I can healthily manage my discontentment and begin to improve myself.

In my ongoing quest for self-improvement, I routinely tick off the boxes in my life goals checklist. But things don't end once a box is ticked. I have chosen to be willfully discontent because I still have a lot of room to grow. I have been helped by so many kind people in my life, and I cannot stop until I have multiplied to others the kindness I have received. To me, to be willfully discontent is to honor those who have lifted me.

Thumbnail and header photo by:

unsplash-logoEzra Comeau-Jeffrey