It is no stretch of the imagination to say that many days most people wrestle with some form of discontentment about their lot in life. Add to this an equal if not greater amount of time spent searching for the solution they think will “cure” this confliction, and it might surprise us how pervasive runs this human pastime of trying to dodge these feelings of being discontent.
Let’s look at a short list of suspects most commonly believed to be the stealers of our comfort. This will prove itself a helpful study. Serious students of the Higher Life should spend time observing their own discontented states because only the Light of conscious awareness can effectively change the unconscious cause of these unwanted patterns.
Keep in mind during this review that the usual sorts of discontentment we experience in life, the various unwelcome visitors that conflict the mind while they sour the heart, are like a string of bees lining up to enter a hive one at a time. They cannot enter any other way. This knowledge will prove valuable for us to know as we learn about these stinging states.
But one should also know that it is possible for one’s soul to be so habitually hardened by consistent resentment toward life – for what he sees as its continual denial of his happiness – that this same soul can become permanently displeased – chronically negative to the point of complete corruption. This destructive state leads to the soul’s deconstruction.
Before we dive into our list of what are easily recognized as being common sources of daily discontentment, there is one last insight worth our consideration: Discontentment always makes perfect sense to the discontented! And again, later on in our study we will see exactly why this dark dynamic holds true – and us with it – in its web of deceit!
Depending on the day that breaks for us, we can experience any or all of these ten discontented conditions. Number one on our list strikes us when we first open our eyelids in the morning! Who wants to get out of a warm bed and face a cold world? The rest of this list is presented in no particular order, and is intended only to help illustrate the opening point of this study.
We often feel discontent over: (2.)Our assessment of our health or our level of available energy. (3) Our inescapable responsibility to provide for ourselves or significant others. (4) Our physical appearance (being buff enough!).
Other areas where we often feel discontent include: (5) Our relationship with those at home or at work, and how others treat us there. (6) Our own habitual behaviors beyond our strength to stop. (7) Our possessions, or lack of them. (8) Our inability to change or otherwise control someone near to us. (9) Our uneventful past or unpromising future. (10) Our relationship with our God.
Apart from its detail, the overall purpose of this list is to help us see that much of our time we are engrossed in a struggle to identify the cause of our own discontented condition, followed by our subsequent efforts to change what is unwanted by us into what we believe will better suit our pleasure.
Of course this description puts a kind of “positive spin” on what amounts to one’s never-ending whirl of wishes. But these hopes and dreams (of a more contented time to come) do not really belong to what we might think of as being our true Self. They are the incessant creation of one’s own thought nature – that ever-seeking, never-quite-satisfied self we all know too well!
This level of “self” knows only the kind of comfort that it imagines into being. And this, its imagined creation, is a construct created from the content of its own past experience. Knowledge of this psychological fact helps to free us from its influence over us. Here is one of the reasons why truth sets us free: This insight grants us the initial awareness of an unseen contradiction in the workings of our own consciousness. Can you see it yet? If this thought nature of ours, the “self” from which we presently live, possessed the contentment it imagines into being, then it would not have to spend all of its time conjuring up all of the comforting ideas it endlessly creates!
A closer look at this idea reveals there dwells a “self” within us that is always seeking to exchange what we are in the moment for its more idealized conception of what it imagines will make us happier. This malcontent nature is inseparable from the discontentment that it breeds as it drags us through its comparison of what “is” to its own imagined idealized state yet to be realized.
The truth is, this self is not just driven along by its discontent but, in fact, has no independent existence apart from it. It requires that something always be “wrong” in order for it to set things “right.” In other words, the contentment this self seeks only exists for as long as does its sense of being discontent. And there is still more for us to see. The life span of this discontented nature is the length of time it takes to hand you over to its opposite: the imagined pleasure that awaits you when you arrive at your imagined destination. But, as we know it to be true, we no sooner arrive at this chosen port of pleasure than appears again what is “not right” with where we are and the cycle of discontentment starts again!
Once we awaken enough to see this cycle of discontentment for what it is, then we stand a chance of canceling it and the strain of living with what has always been an impossible contradiction in our consciousness: the vain hope that our discontentment can be answered by the very nature that creates and sustains it. Clearly a whole new order of solution is required. Finding it begins with asking a simple question: Who in his or her right mind believes – even for a moment – that the path to one’s lasting contentment would be paved by continually thinking about everything seen as missing from one’s life? Such a path may promise pleasure to come, but its steps are spiked with discontentment. This finding proves our solution:
We have been the unwitting servants of a thought nature whose appetite is unappeasable because its life is fueled by opposites that cannot cancel each other anymore than picking up a sword can kill the fear in us that creates those whom we hate. This false self spends our life seeking relief from its own painful misperception of reality.
The clearer grows our understanding of our present condition, the more certain we become about what must be done: We must terminate our unconscious agreement with this unenlightened nature and, in doing so, consciously let go of our all-too-familiar sense of self that has been lent to us for our service to this false nature. How is this to be done?
Here is the True Solution to this pressing sense of discontentment and the self responsible for it: We must cease struggling to acquire more of those things in life that have already proven themselves powerless to please us. Instead we must do the inner work of deliberately detaching ourselves from this familiar sense of self that promises us comfort even as it continues to sow the seeds of our discontent.
Let me stress here that the work of letting go of one’s self in these moments can only be as successful as one’s insight into these truths now revealed. Here is why this must be so: We have learned that our principal source of discontented feelings is born in us when our thought self sees what “is not” happening in our lives as opposed to what it imagines “ought to be” taking place.
What we must see is that it is not we who create this constant comparison that is the root of our discontentment. This comparison process is the root of our thought nature that only knows what something is by knowing what it is not. The opposites at work – only they have been at work on us, dragging us into ever-deeper stages of feeling discontented with our life.
Enough is enough. We can and must learn to call upon a New “I” within us that understands the futility of continuing to vest ourselves in the “hope of things seen.” So that now, instead of perpetually giving ourselves over to these discontented feelings with their promise of a better tomorrow, we are going to give these states away in order to gain possession of ourselves in the Now.
Which brings us to these last important notes: This act of conscious detachment is not an act of denial or resistance to the discontentment we may be feeling. It is a re-placing of our attention upon the Truth we know – a conscious shift of our sense of self away from what troubles it onto our new awareness that this self, along with its troubles and plans for freedom, is a lie.
Lastly, take this one thought with you into your battle to detach yourself from the discontented self: As difficult as it may be to grasp for now, consider the following insight to be true and then set out to prove it to yourself. Our God, the Creator of all things, whatever name you give to this Living Light, Himself created this seemingly unanswerable discontentment in us.
Why would Goodness Itself give us such a mysterious gift, one so hard to grasp? Because only through our trials with being discontent could we ever come to see that there is only one True Source of Perfect Contentment: our life in God’s. To this Perfect Plan add one last idea: Only as each of us awakens to our actual condition in life, dominated as we are to one degree or another by a discontented self, can we ever hope to use our free will to give up our willfully discontented self in favor of a New and True Allegiance with what is Peace and Contentment Itself.
The initial knowledge you need to proceed and succeed with severing yourself from the discontented self is in your hands. Use these Truths you have learned to lead a whole new kind of life free from the lashing of a self that only lives for a contentment to come. You can do better than let bitterness over what you don’t have become your god. Make the change right now! Remember your intention to detach yourself from any sense of self otherwise derived from its discontented considerations of life. Know that the contentment your heart longs for already dwells in you and only awaits your remembrance of Its Peace.
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and is a regular expert contributor to Beliefnet and the Huffington Post. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful newsletter emailed to your desktop once each week.
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