The Benefit of Discontent

Bill Abbate
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

Do you have something in your life that causes you to be restless at times? Not in the way of a medical condition, but something or some circumstance in which you feel discontented. It may crop up as an unsettled, uneasy feeling that you should be doing something, but you allow it to pass. Yet it comes back again and again.

Perhaps circumstances are in the way, or you are allowing something to interfere. It could be because you are not giving enough attention to whatever it is, but you know you should, hence the restless feeling.


Are you with me so far? If you are, you are one of many people with this feeling of restlessness and discontent. What you may not realize is an opportunity could lie before you. A chance to do something significant in or with your life. Something in which you can make serious progress if you can increase your sense of urgency.

Before continuing, let's look at the meaning of the word discontent as it perfectly describes what we are discussing.

"Discontent - noun - lack of contentment; dissatisfaction with one's circumstances." Oxford Dictionary

How discontentment can help you

Perhaps an example will help further clarify this relatively normal condition in life. Such a thing happened to me in recent years, and I almost missed the opportunity to make a lifelong dream happen. Let me explain.

For many years I had dreamed of writing and publishing a book. I had a desire in my heart to help others find a better way to live their lives. Perhaps I could save them some time and heartache by passing on some of the wisdom I learned from others through years of study and practice. I had started writing the book nearly 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, life kept getting in the way, and I procrastinated far too often. I even hired a coach to help me get on track a few years ago and made some great strides in getting the book together, but life interfered, derailing my plans once again.

Throughout all of these years, I have had a restlessness, a discontentment that never left. I knew in my innermost being I had to write the book, and I lived with this restlessness too many years. Then it happened. I almost died.

I thought I was bulletproof, with many years of good health and a long life ahead. I was in excellent physical condition, and the last thing on my mind was dying. Since that time, I learned even extremely healthy people could have something called a widowmaker heart attack.

In my typical style of doing things in a big way, I had not one but four massive heart attacks within a few hours! It was touch and go for a while, and I wound up staying in intensive care for 55 days. Thankfully I survived.

That nagging feeling of needing to finish my book came back as I recovered and never left me. I had now come to terms with the fact that I was not bulletproof and could leave this earth at any time. My sense of urgency increased dramatically because of this experience. I finally completed the book with the help of three excellent editors. The book went for sale around the middle of 2019. The lifelong dream of becoming a published author had finally happened!

I am thankful that restlessness and discontent never left me. The book has sold well, but more important to me is the feedback I receive. Each time someone lets me know how the book has impacted them, it means the world to me. That is why I wanted to do it – to help other people in their lives.

Examining your discontent

I recently found the perfect quote for this article from one of the most famous and prolific inventors to have ever lived:

"Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure." Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)

So, I ask you, what do you keep putting off that makes you restless? What is it that gives you this feeling of discontent in your life? If you will only realize how close you are to making progress because of this feeling. You are on the verge of creating something that may change your life and the life of many others!

Yes, it is up to you to prioritize and increase your sense of urgency to make it happen sooner rather than later. Perhaps it will take recognizing your life could end in a sudden accident at any time. As scripture says, no one knows what tomorrow may bring.

Ask yourself these questions about whatever "it" is for you in your life:

  • Will it really matter to me if I never complete it?
  • Will someone in the world miss it if I do not complete it?
  • How will it affect my legacy if it is left unfinished?
  • How could it help others if I can finish it?
  • How will it make me feel to complete it?

What other questions can you ask yourself that may enhance your sense of urgency to get "it" done? Spend some time thinking about it.

Final thoughts

Most of us have something we want to accomplish in life. When that something makes you restless, it is time to make it a priority. That restlessness and discontent come in part from the anxiousness of it not being completed. Allow that discontentedness to work for you.

"If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress." David Rockefeller (1915-2017)

Imagine how you may influence those you care about by completing this important thing in your life. And when you leave this earth, think about the impact on those for whom you have left this gift!

Too many depart from this world leaving far too much undone. Please don't be one of them!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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