The Power of Discontent

By Anita Sheehan-Nutz

On January 27, 2022
I don’t know about you, but I experience plenty of discontent in my life:  Relationships not working out the way I’d like it; ups and downs in my professional life; minor health booboos that I wish were not there; occasionally a sense of boredom and questions around my life purpose. Now, even though I am […]

I don’t know about you, but I experience plenty of discontent in my life:  Relationships not working out the way I’d like it; ups and downs in my professional life; minor health booboos that I wish were not there; occasionally a sense of boredom and questions around my life purpose. Now, even though I am a Positive Intelligence Coach, I am not advocating (even to myself) to just think positively and see the gift in every situation.  Actually, hold it, yes, I do want to focus on the latter.  Because discontent can be a great motivator to bring about change in our lives and thus can be a fabulous gift.  It invites us to make choices: to either wallow in self-pity and get ourselves into a downward spiral, a pity-me mode.  We also have the choice to reflect on how we can turn the situation around.  At any given moment.  Easier said than done, you say, and you are right.  However, there are some tips and tricks which you may have mostly heard of, but which bear repeating. Here goes:

  1. Practicing gratitude

I am sure you have heard this from many different sources, ad nauseum perhaps.  I certainly have.  Yet, how often do I really stand still by this sage piece of advice?  I recently was reminded of it, and what a difference it made!  Throughout the day I noticed the little things that make my life pleasant:  the sun streaming in through my living room windows (I live in Belgium, and believe me, this is truly something to be thankful for 😊), the warmth of the delicious soup that a friend brought by; and speaking of friends, I have a handful of loyal and loving ones in my circle.  I could not imagine life without them, yet, how often do I truly appreciate them, even if only in my thoughts?  The list goes on and on . . . I am sure you can find plenty of small or large pleasures throughout the day that you may take much for granted but which you could appreciate more fully.  Check it out and see how a gratitude day (and then another and another . . .) make you feel.

  1. Knowing what’s most important to you

Another type of reflection that we often get out of touch with.  As we meander through the day, the weeks, the months, we are often catapulted from one demand (often imposed purely by ourselves) to another. There are periods that feel like we are being lived instead of being in charge of what we really want and need.  It often starts with a lack of clarity around what is most important to us.  We may have promised ourselves to spend a quiet evening with ourselves or family, cocooning, and wham! a phone call comes in inviting us to an “irresistible” outing. Now, if this is something that is truly irresistible to you because you would enjoy that activity more than staying at home, by all means go for it.  However, if you hear that tiny little voice in your head or that small gnaw in your stomach the moment you get that invitation, it may be good to remember what YOU want rather than what you think is expected of you. This applies to many different scenarios, at work, in relationships, even with yourself (you know you will feel terrible if you eat that monster cookie, but you override that thought). My recommendation therefore is to sit down and make a list of all that is most important to you in your life.  Chances are that the list is endless and that maybe some of them might even be contradictory.  To whittle it down, you could take a highlighter and go over the list again, selecting your 10 top ones. If you really want to have fun, here is an online assessment that is likely to blow your mind in how it describes your values and even your personality: Give it a try!

  1. Imagine yourself at the end of your life

Let’s say you are in a real funk and just want to curl up on your couch and hide.  Go ahead and do it! And while you are at it, I suggest you use that precious time to project yourself forward to the end of your life, sitting in a rocking chair, healthy of mind and body, and looking back on that thing called your life. As vividly as possible, reflect on all that was important to you in your life (ideally, you would have done the previous exercise already) and how you were able to live it.  What did you experience?  What did you see, hear, smell, feel?  Who was there with you?  Where did you live?  How did you live?  What made your heart sing? The more you can get in touch with what you have experienced and what you have felt in that ideal life of yours, the more it will create the desire to move toward it. You might want to get off that couch now and start a vision board, using old magazines and snip out the images that really speak to you, that represents those pictures and feelings that you would like to have experienced. I did such a vision board once with a friend of mine on New Year’s Eve a few years ago.  I still have it.  I have added a few items and covered up one or two that were no longer relevant.  But I do connect with it on a regular basis and what do you know, my feeling of discontent transforms into a feeling of possibility. Inspired?  See what happens if you do the above consistently and let me know.  If you feel you’d like not only a guiding hand in doing all of the above and then some but also in the company of other women who seek greater contentment and joy in their lives, check out my Spiral Up! Program.  It is a 12-week journey based on a variety of sciences and the goodwill and wisdom of your other group members. And if you bring a friend, there will be a special discount waiting for you and her. Contact me at for a chat and further information.

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