How to Live Dissatisfied


Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly. 

A few weeks ago, I heard this talk about living happily. And it really grabbed my attention.

Instead of focusing on inspiring, positive pieces of advice, the speaker zeroed in on five steps to living a dissatisfied life — i.e. how to F up your own happiness.

This was really powerful for me (and reverse psychology in its best form). In a society filled with Instagram-filtered and Kardashian depictions of real life, let’s step away from the self help books and positivity and get right down to where we’re messing it up. 

I liked it a lot, and so I’ve adapted it a bit to share here with you. (More on the origin at the bottom of this post.) 

1.  Master the art of being ungrateful

You have the right to resent the world for where you are. Because it’s never your fault — the world is against you. Life — especially yours — is not fair. Let your life be defined by the bumps in the road, because nothing good ever happens to you.

The antidote: living like that only makes you crabby and unhappy. Instead, try starting each day with a “thank you” and a gracious heart — set aside a few minutes when you wake up each morning to identify one thing you’re thankful for. Doing so will start your day on a good note and better prepare you to handle those bumps in the road.

2. Compare what you have to people who have more than you.

I wish I had that job. I wish I made that money, so I could buy those clothes and that car and that apartment. I wish my spouse/fiance/boyfriend did that. I wish I was skinnier, prettier and more stylish. It’s so unfair that she gets all of that, and I get this. 

The antidote: Don’t lose sight of the other end of this — for every person that has more than you, there is also going to be someone who has it worse than you. So much can go wrong life — I mean truly wrong. Perspective is key to focusing on what you have and staying positive about where you’re going. Understand what you can change and what you can’t.

3. Convince yourself that you’re always dealt the worst hand.

It always happens to me. ME! Always. No one else ever experiences what I go through. No matter what I do, I get screwed over, and none of it is my fault. Nothing good ever comes my way — ever.

The antidote: Self pity is a lonely, sad tunnel. Once you fall in, it’s really hard to climb back out. There are two things worth doing with this one: 1) identify the event that made you feel this way and re-trace your steps. Is there something you could’ve done differently to affect the outcome? A lesson you can learn here? Chances are, there is. That guy who dumped you was probably a dick you shouldn’t have gone out with in the first place. And that crappy performance review you got at work actually probably has some truth to it. Taking responsibility can help you improve future outcomes — it may be time for a change.

And 2) force yourself to make a list of the good things associated with this event. So your relationship with that guy ended, but maybe it forced you to explore new neighborhoods in your city. Or pushed you to the breaking point on setting your standards higher for next time. And maybe your performance review sucked, but honestly — you make good money at that job. And you’ve met some great friends. So now you know how to fix it.

Being a glass-half-full kind of person takes works, but it can seriously be life-changing.

4. Constantly pursue temporary possessions.

If only I could afford that gorgeous summer dress or that one more pair of shoes. Or that purse — OMG, that purse. Or that trip! I’ll never be able to go back to Europe. I can’t be who I want to be because I don’t have enough money.

The antidote: We all do this — convince ourselves that just one more thing will make us feel like a million bucks. Except keeping up with the Joneses never made anyone feel satisfied. Instead, focus on the experiences and relationships that’ll really gratify you — not the things.

5. Develop an attitude of entitlement.

I deserve that promotion, because I’m almost 30 years old and everyone else has gotten one. I deserve to make more money because that’s the kind of lifestyle I need. He needs to be perfect, because well, I’m perfect. My friends should do what I want to do on a Saturday night because I always have the best plans. My family should always be there for me whenever I need them because my life moments are always the most important.

Sounds ridiculous when you put it that way, right?

The antidote: This is something I see more with Millennials than any other generation. We all think everyone owes us something. When instead, we have to work at them — whether it’s that promotion at work, friendship, relationship, etc. Being you is just tablestakes — you have to work for the things you want and need.

So there you have it — five ways to live dissatisfied, and the antidotes to turning it around. Food for thought — all easier said than done, of course. Which one do you struggle with most?

Note: “How to Live Dissatisfied” was first heard during a sermon at my church a few weeks back. I realize not everyone is a Christian, and so am putting this background here — at the bottom — to avoid turning anyone off from what I think is an awesome message above. Want more details? You can always reach me here.

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