by Leo Babauta
Almost every kind of problem we have has discontent with ourselves (and our lives) as its root.
I’ll repeat that for emphasis: All of our problems stem from discontent.
Let’s take a look at a variety of examples:
- Addicted to food:
Food gives you temporary happiness, you seek happiness from external sources because you aren’t happy with yourself. The pleasure from food is temporary, making you a bit depressed that you ate so much junk, making you unhappier, causing you to seek comfort from the food.
- Addicted to cigarettes, drugs, pills, alcohol:
Same reason as food addiction, same cycle.
- Addicted to the Internet, video games, porn:
- Debt and clutter:
You buy things as a source of external happiness (see above), and are afraid of what will happen if you let go of those things. This is a lack of confidence that you’ll be OK with nothing but yourself.
- Afraid to meet people:
You are afraid of how other people might judge you because you are not confident about who you are, because you are unhappy with who you are.
- Afraid to start your own business:
You are afraid you’ll fail because you don’t have confidence in yourself, because you are unhappy with who you are.
- Unhappy with your body:
You want your body to meet some ideal, and of course it doesn’t. You can’t accept that your body is perfect just as it is (though of course improving your health is always good), and that people will love you for who you are, no matter how your body looks.
- Fail at creating new habits:
You don’t really believe you can stick to the habits because you have failed so often before so you don’t give it your full effort. You don’t trust yourself, and so you think you’re not a reliable, disciplined, good person.
- Jealous, insecure about boyfriend/girlfriend, check their Facebook page to see who they’re flirting with:
You don’t really believe your significant other will want to stay with you, and believe they’ll abandon you, because you don’t think you’re good enough.
- Jealous about what other people are doing on Facebook/Instagram, worried that you’re missing out:
You think everyone else is having more fun than you, because you are unhappy with what you’re doing right now -it’s not good enough; but at the heart it’s because you think you’re not awesome enough.
- Procrastinate/distracted by Internet:
You get the urge to do something easier, more comfortable, rather than stick with something tough, uncomfortable; you don’t want to do the uncomfortable because it’s hard and you think you’ll fail; you don’t trust yourself to stick to something that’s hard.
You have an ideal outcome that you really want to happen, and the anxiety comes from the fear that the outcome won’t happen. Holding onto this ideal outcome happens because you don’t think you’ll be OK if other unexpected outcomes happen; because you don’t have confidence in yourself.
You have an ideal outcome you really want to happen, and you are angry when someone else prevents that from happening. Holding onto this ideal outcome happens because you don’t think you’ll be OK if other unexpected outcomes happen, because you don’t have confidence in yourself.
I could go on, with another 20 examples, but you can see how many of these problems are really the same problem in different forms, and in the end there are a few key ideas that are repeated in many of the problems.
The key problems associated with discontent:
- An ideal/fantasy we are holding onto.
- Unhappiness with who we are.
- Lack of trust/confidence in ourselves.
- Seeking happiness externally.
Think about which of the above (and other) problems you might have. Can you see the root of discontent with yourself (and your life) in each problem?