I Love My Life: Guard Against the Yeast of Discontentment

“Content make poor men rich; discontent make rich men poor.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

If it were not for discontent and the ill effects it has on so many this blog would not exist.  I started writing this blog to help myself and others counteract the effects of discontent in us and in others.  Even when we are in a happy spot, if we are tethered to another who is discontent and has allowed the yeast of discontent to spread in their lives we can be affected.  We need to guard ourselves or break free.  Today let’s explore the 5 primary sources of discontent and look at how we can guard against its spread.

Covetousness and Envy.  To be covetousness is to be wrongly desirous of others advantages, success, possessions, etc.  When we covet what others have we focus on them and fail to take the appropriate actions that enhance our own lives.  The antidote to covetousness and envy is to be happy for the blessings to others.  Perhaps easier said than done, but the first step is to simply say “I am happy for you” and assign a positive emotion to that statement.  Over time your emotions will precede your statement.  Another way to give this a try is to use those who have the blessings you would like to also receive as a role model.  Learn from them, learn their lessons of success, follow their warnings of paths to avoid, ask them to mentor you.

Selfishness.  To be selfish is to be devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.  There are times when I feel I am falling into the “poor me pit”.  You know that pit where selfishness gives off a sweet fragrance of comfort, but you know it will not sooth your pain.  The antidote to selfishness is positive interaction with others where we share, volunteer, and/or give AND a bit of soothing self-care.  On the days when work and perhaps others drained me I typically find myself purchasing flowers or a gift for the office or home and scheduling a massage or bubble bath time for myself.  Giving to others and recharging me in a positive way is my antidote to selfishness.

Perfectionism.   To be a perfectionist is to demand a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy of flawlessness and reject anything less from yourself or others.  The irony of perfectionism is that the definition of perfect is uniquely defined by each individual.  The beauty of life resides in our diversity.  Our diversity lies in our ability to be uniquely individual and allow the same in others.  The antidote to perfectionism is to acknowledge that our own standards, attitudes and philosophies (although may be similar with others) are uniquely ours, we can also accept that others have their own set of standards, attitudes and philosophies that are uniquely theirs.  We each have our own set of “flaws”; this is what makes us human, what makes us similar, but different from others and what can give us a good laugh at ourselves sometimes.  It is only when we can drop the perfectionist attitude that we allow ourselves and others to simply be as we were created…human.

Intolerance.  To be intolerant is to not allow or respect beliefs, opinions, usages, manners, etc., different from one’s own.  Intolerance is an act of separation.  In the end intolerance has an isolating effect on the individual.  And although occasional retreats from the rest of the world can recharge the spirit and increase our appreciation, a lifestyle of intolerance will create a retreat of no return as those who once loved you choose to free themselves of the negativity.  The antidote of intolerance is to forgive and let be.  Allow people their opinions and insights.  We each have a perspective on our experiences which forms how we interpret other events in life.  As a result when two individuals go through the same experience they can immerge with completely different interpretations of the experience.  Allow the difference, forgive them if they offend, and let them be.

Critical Attitudes.  To be critical is to be inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily.  When one lives with critical attitudes they build a protective wall between who a person wants to be and who they fear they really are.  The irony I have found in critical attitudes is that they are a reflection of what the individual does not like about themselves as it is reflect back to them from another’s life.  What one typically judges harshest is one’s own flaw in others.  The critical attitude simply masks one’s own discontent.  The antidote of critical attitudes is to look into that reflection and explore what is causing the emotional response.  When we can get honest about the source of our emotions we can make the changes in our own lives that allow us to release the critical attitudes that falsely protect us.  Then we can focus on the bigger and better picture of life.

Today’s Simple Smile Igniter is to guard you by being the yeast of contentment.  Know that the discontent of us and others has an antidote.  There are always other options and other ways of doing things that foster life satisfaction.  Focus on the antidotes and watch contentment grow.

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