Most of us spend a lot more time trying to deal with discontentment than is obvious at first glance. Depending on how the day breaks for us, we may find ourselves feeling discontent about our life whenever we:
Compare our present level of health and energy to those better days when we felt a stronger wind at our back
Take that almost daily inventory of our personal possessions or lack of them
Find ourselves unable to change or otherwise control someone near to us
Start reliving our uneventful past, or imagine an equally unpromising future
Measure ourselves against others and, through comparison, conclude that they have more reason to be content than we do
The sole purpose of this list is to help us recognize how much grief we have come to take for granted, as though being perpetually negative is somehow natural. This insight brings us to an important and somewhat startling discovery: Discontentment always makes perfect sense to the discontented!
By the light of our impersonal study we can see two bright new truths: much of our time is spent identifying the so-called cause of our discontented condition, and the rest of our time is taken up trying to change our unwanted situation into what we imagine 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 the facts are that these dreams of a better time to come do not originate with our True Self. They are the incessant creation of one's unconscious thought nature, that ever-seeking, never-quite-satisfied self whose endless aspirations we all know too well!
This level of self knows only the kind of comfort that it can imagine into being. For instance, who among us hasn't found themselves conjuring up some imagined pleasure when faced with the pain of some contradiction in life that seems greater than our ability to deal with? And this imagined contentment is fine, if we believe an imaginary umbrella has the power to keep us dry in a downpour! To become conscious of this unconscious dynamic effectively cancels its authority over us. We don't have to live from any such self that is always seeking to exchange what we are in the moment for its more idealized conception of what it imagines can complete us. Key to this finding is that this would-be contented nature is inseparable from the discontentment that it breeds as it drags us through its comparison of what is to what should be.
Here's something even more surprising about this level of our discontented self: this nature is not just driven along by its unhappiness 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 as long as its sense of being discontented is allowed to remain. The life span of this discontented nature is the length of time it takes to hand you over to its opposite: the projected pleasure that awaits you when you arrive at your imagined destination. But, as we know to be true, we no sooner arrive at this chosen port of pleasure than we become aware again of what is not right with where we now are. You can see now how the cycle of discontentment starts all over again!
Awakening to see this cycle of discontent for what it is not only empowers us to cancel it, but it also brings to an end the strain of living under the unseen contradiction in our consciousness: the hope that one's discontentment can be resolved by the very nature that creates and sustains it. Clearly a whole new order of solution is required.
First, we must be willing to see the futility of our struggle to acquire more of those things in life that have already proven themselves powerless to please us. In concert with this effort comes the inner work of deliberately detaching ourselves from the familiar sense of self that promises us comfort even as it continues to sow the seeds of our discontent.
In spite of how daunting such an effort may seem at first, we can succeed with our wish to let go because we are beginning to act from the power that our own awakening grants us. Nothing is greater; no force can frustrate such a light as it dawns within. Here is why this holds true: We are starting to see through the source of discontentment. We now understand how the thought-self habitually perceives what its conditioned natures sees as not right about our lives, and then compares this negative image to what it further imagines ought to be taking place. And presto, we are in pain of some sort! These are the opposites at work within us. This is what has been working on us, dragging us into ever-deeper stages of discontentment with life.
But we can declare, "Enough is enough." The divided nature that embodies these opposites is not our True Self; it is but a shadow, a single aspect of our own original contented character. We can learn to call upon a new I within that understands the futility of continuing to vest ourselves in the "hope of things seen." Rather than giving ourselves over to these malcontent feelings with their empty promises of a better tomorrow, we can let them go instead and gain possession of ourselves in the Now.
Our new intention to consciously detach ourselves from this discontented nature and the objects of its life is not an act of denial or resistance to whatever we may be feeling in the moment. This shift in the sense of "I" is a deliberate re-placement of our attention. Instead of trying to escape this discontented sense of self, we bring it -- along with its troubles and plans for freedom -- into the new and higher awareness of our True Nature. By daring to bring what would displease us about our life into the light of our new self-understanding, that light itself sees to it that we emerge victorious.
The knowledge you need to start letting go of this discontented self is in your hands. Use these truths to help take yourself beyond that unhappiness that comes with living from a nature that only knows about an imagined contentment to come. Start right now by knowing that the contentment your heart longs for already dwells in you and only waits for you to prepare a place for it by your remembrance of its peace.