the flip side

Before we move any further in this series, we need to define what contentedness isn't: discontent. And I have a feeling that discontent will play a large role in our exploration of contented living. If we are ever to live a contented life, we must understand the alternative. The more I try to define content the more I find myself trying to nail down discontent; one is essential to the other.

So if contented means happy and satisfied, discontent must mean unhappy and dissatisfied. When I think about what it feels like to be discontent, I feel unsettled and out of place.

All of us have had periods of discontent in our lives. Perhaps some of those stints are unavoidable (an idea I plan to examine later in the month), and likely some of that discontent is ultimately needless. Discussing discontent in the wake of content may make us feel uncomfortable sometimes, because really what we're doing is inspecting our own souls for vulnerability. And that's never easy.

I'm sure if given a few moments, every one of us can identify at least one person we know who is discontent. So what characterizes discontent, anyway? The discontented people I know feel powerless to some extent, resentful to another. They think that one-upping those around them will compensate for their self-perceived shortcomings, and they fall victim to comparison.

So what does this mean about the one who lives a contented life?

This post is part of a 31-day series on contented living. You can find the other posts here.

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