Breaking The Cycle of Chronic Dissatisfaction
- Do you find yourself constantly chasing one goal after the other?
- Is it difficult for you to savor happy moments and rest in them?
- Do you immediately worry about the next problem once the previous one is solved?
- Are you constantly worried about something or the other?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, chances are, you are chronically dissatisfied. Something gnaws at you much of the time.
Living with chronic dissatisfaction is often burdensome. In many ways, it saps your capacity to enjoy life.
How does chronic dissatisfaction come about though? To understand why we are chronically dissatisfied, it is necessary to understand our way of life. I say ‘our’ because most of us live this way.
Our Usual Way Of Life
Most of us live our lives staying busy, finding one entertainment after another, distracting ourselves, ruminating often about our unsolved or seemingly unsolvable problems. We constantly plan to do better and forever wish to achieve more. We lament lost moments of glory, struggle with temptations we cannot give into or fantasize about the future. In other words, we live our lives in a state of ‘dukkha’.
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What Is "Dukkha"?
“Dukkha” is loosely translated in English as suffering. Gautama Buddha said that the sheer way we live, forever wanting and needing more, wanting to avoid pain as far as possible, not accepting what life has brought to us and staying so attached to our belongings, ideas, opinions and relationships, is itself suffering.
He said that when we have happy moments, we cling to them and fear that they will pass away; when we have difficult moments, we struggle to resolve them. And the moments in between, we spend in day dreaming, fantasizing, planning or simply staying restless and bored. Such a stressful way to live! So much suffering!
Chronic dissatisfaction is a reality of the human life. You are conditioned to want more, to need more, and to stay dissatisfied; because that is the only way you will keep striving to survive.
Often you are afraid of slowing down or doing nothing because you fear that the moment you stop entertaining and distracting yourself, your mind will bring up all the feelings of dissatisfaction and the related difficult emotions you are trying to avoid.
Despite appearances, all human beings struggle with some dissatisfaction or another. It could be about their jobs or health or relationships or finances or even about aging.
That is perhaps why even you are here, reading this, searching for something that will make your life more satisfying.
Working Through Chronic Dissatisfaction: The Innate Potential For Joy
The picture looks gloomy at first, but it is not all bleak.
Just like the innate conditioned demon of chronic dissatisfaction there is also a tremendous innate potential for joy. In fact at the deepest level, at the core, there is just joy which is often covered up by fears, struggles and dissatisfaction, so we can’t sense it. This is the joy of simply just being!
Often, we are unable to feel this joy. We are caught up in trying to fix one thing after the other. It is ironical that our very methods of dealing with unpleasant feelings perpetuate it. We try to fight unpleasant thoughts away, we try not to feel unpleasant feelings. But this only increases the suffering and the burden. There is no respite from the cycle of constantly having to think, solve, fix, be in one state, and not be in another. Sounds burdensome!
Mindfulness is the art and practice of dealing with this demon of chronic dissatisfaction, so that we can uncover the inner joy of being. When we practice mindfulness we do not fight with our dissatisfaction, instead we peacefully observe it. We slowly change our relationship with our dissatisfaction and try to know it better, thus changing our habitual reactions to it.
Hence mindfulness is a gentle practice of greater self-knowledge and self awareness, as a way to address our suffering and know our joy.
While this is the larger goal, our practice needs to begin with small steps.
About the Author
This article was written by the team of Psychologists and Mindfulness Trainers at Inner Space.