Entitled and Discontent
Somewhere at the back of my mind I have always believed that there will come a time where my life will finally be perfect and all that I want it to be. I will have everything I ever wanted and be happy. In the meantime, I will wait till the moment my life becomes fully satisfactory. This attitude of mine is amusing because of the number of times I have heard stories of people that finally got their perfect lives, or the lives that they imagined would be perfect, only to discover that they were still not fully satisfied with their lives. Yet, my mindset persists. It seems I have made the subconscious decision to delay experiencing satisfaction for my current life, while I hold on to the belief that it is an event or award that will create the satisfaction I so desire.
At some points I have briefly wondered what life would feel like for me if I simply enjoyed the moment, without looking forward to an uncertain future with the hope that I will some day be satisfied. I cannot even tell you what form this future satisfaction will take and perhaps that is part of my problem. The truth is, I look at my life now and I find there is everything right with it. I have so much for which I am grateful. However, that habit of discontentment is nested so deeply in me that I struggle to see my life as being good, even as I am aware of all the good that is in it. This dissonance is disconcerting; I find myself experiencing the warped guilt of a person who can see she is doing damage, but continues to do it anyway.
There was a time that I reminded myself that I only have this life, and what a life it would be if it was spent waiting and waiting for that event that would create for me a genuine response of “great!” when asked about my welfare. Why can I not be “great!” now? Why is it that my knee-jerk reaction is to ignore all that is well for me in this moment, in favour of dwelling on all that I “lack”?
And what is it that I think I lack? I cannot even put it into logical words because my lack exists only in my head. When I bring these thoughts under scrutiny they fall apart and dissolve into nothing. Let us take looking for a job, for instance. I have the privilege and security of knowing that there is no way I will be unemployed. Even in a worst case scenario, I know I will have work. Yet, I am not content with that, I still sulk about the fact that I have not yet found my “ideal” job. Why should I be sulking at all? It is such a spoilt, self-indulgent and far from honest attitude, but this is the current reality I have built for myself. Sometimes, I feel guilty when I remember that there are people in this world who are genuinely experiencing a level of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering that I could probably never imagine. But that is not the point, for we all walk different paths in life. I should not need to be reminded of the suffering of another person to appreciate what I have. Furthermore, the guilt is useless where I still have a sense of entitlement regarding the direction in which my life should be going.
Because at the end of the day, that is what this whole thing is- a sense of entitlement. I feel as though I am entitled to this perfect life for which I am waiting. But I am not. I am not entitled to anything and whatever it is that I want, I have to work for it. That is the truth that I need to understand and accept fully, otherwise this sense of entitlement will continue to feed my discontentment.
One truth I have come to realise, is that it is exactly the attitude of discontentment that makes you lose everything you have and everything you stood to gain. Much in the same way that having an attitude of gratitude enables you to recognise and take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you in life. It is that inability to appreciate one’s life for what it is, that makes one roam around like a lost soul looking for elusive perfection when the perfect life is here and now. It is only blocked from view by one’s attitude and the adoption of popular mindsets. What is perfect for me might be disastrous for you, but most of us walk about internalising the societal declarations of perfection, even as these definitions are self-serving and have no relation to us as individuals. We have consumed the message within the troupe's act that life is not great until this and achievement is not here until that and now we are sick to our stomachs with despair and fear that our lives are missing this and that. It is all rubbish.
Still, knowing a fact in theory and applying it in practice are two very different experiences, especially when it comes to habits borne and sustained over a lifetime. So what to do?
I have always suspected that when we pay close attention to, and do not shy away from being honest with ourselves, it helps us behave in ways that are more beneficial to us. We are less reliant on external approval and learn self-mastery. However, no one can force you to be mindful of the destructive thoughts in your head. You have to make the conscious effort to call them out, hold them up to the light and see that they have no basis or place in your mind. You have to choose to make this conscious effort every single moment of every single day. It is not easy, because your presence of mind and intentionality will prevent you from being pliable, controllable and unaware of the innate authority you have over yourself- things that many have and continue to profit from. But the ball is always in your court. You just need to remember that.
I say these things to you as much as I say them to myself, for I still have a long way to go to remove these destructive thought patterns from my head and regain full control of myself, but at least we can do it together.
I am committing to being content with myself and my life as I am right now.
Contentment is not the same as complacency. It is simply the honest awareness and acknowledgement of who you are right now. That means, recognise what you have, for it is from what you have that you give and it is when you give that you get. Think about this carefully, and you will see what I mean.
Have a great weekend.