States of Contentment

Bill Abbate
Photo by Eleanor on Unsplash

Do you see contentment as good and discontentment as bad? Contentment is often linked to happiness, while discontentment is often associated with unhappiness. Can there be any other way to view them? Absolutely!

What is good is sometimes bad and what is bad is sometimes good. At times a thing can be bad and good at the same time. You can view many things in life through this lens. For example, work can be good at times and bad at other times. Then there are times it can be good and bad simultaneously.

Let’s take on another view of contentment and discontentment. Instead of saying contentment is good and discontentment is bad, let’s find the upside and downside of each term. This gives us four states of contentment to examine. Let’s look at them in the following order:

  • Good contentment
  • Bad contentment
  • Bad lack of contentment (bad discontentment)
  • Good lack of contentment (good discontentment)


How contented are you with life? Being content can take you to your happy place. It is a wonderful thing to be content, isn’t it? While being content can bring you happiness, this happiness is often fleeting. Enjoy it while you can, as the happiness will disappear soon enough. Contentment can also lead to joy, a deeper, longer-lasting effect on our lives. To learn more about happiness and joy, check out this article: How to Embrace Happiness and Joy in Your Life.

Yes, being content is a wonderful thing; however, there is a dark side to being content. When you become too content, it can lull you into sleep or into ignoring reality. There is such a thing as unhealthy contentment. This type of contentment can lead you to become less ambitious, pulling away from healthy practices and activities. It can lead you to a lack of action, or inaction, among other negative effects.

God did not create us to remain in a permanent state of contentment in every area of life. To do so leads to atrophy, and as we all know, atrophy leads to death.

“Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.” Zig Ziglar


We are all well aware of the negative forms of discontentment in life. Many things can affect our happiness, such as struggling at work, in a relationship, trying to find a job, among other issues. While none of these things are good, discontentment can create good out of them.

Discontentment can help us when we use it to seek a better job or have a change of heart and attitude about our current job. Discontentment can help us in a bad relationship to begin working on it to make it better. It may also lead us to end the relationship.

Anytime discontentment spurs us to action, it can be good for us.

Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.” Eugene V. Debs

Discontentment can lead to solving a problem, working harder, curiosity, learning, achievement, a new job, love between two people, success, and hundreds of other things in life.

It is difficult to imagine the harm we can do to ourselves when we are too content. We are fortunate for the good that discontentment brings into life. We constantly innovate, create, and advance in so many ways because of not being satisfied with the status quo. Imagine where civilization would be without discontentment! Not a pretty thought, is it?

I am thankful for my earlier discontentment with who I was. It has led me on a lifelong quest to learn, grow, and improve myself. I doubt I will ever be content with who I am as I know there is always plenty of room for improvement!

None of us would enjoy the benefits of who we are today and who we will be tomorrow were it not for our discontentment!

I hope I am never so content that it affects me in a negative sense and that I am always at least a little discontented so I can keep moving forward in life.

“There are two kinds of discontent in this world; the discontent that works, and the discontent that wrings its hands. The first gets what it wants, and the second loses what it has. There’s no cure for the first but success; and there’s no cure at all for the second.” Gordon Graham

Final words

Why not embrace all four states of good and bad contentment and discontentment? This way, you will enhance your chance at living a better and more fulfilling life.

In summary, you can:

  • Use good contentment to enhance your joy.
  • Use bad contentment to remind you of what to avoid.
  • Use good discontentment to invigorate and inspire you toward growth.
  • Use bad discontentment to spur your life toward the good.

I urge you to do some self-examination and find ways to improve your life using the four states of contentment. To get the most out of what you have just read, find someone with which you can share this article. Work with one another to better understand the four states in each of your lives.

Wisdom occurs when you put knowledge to use. Use wisdom to create the life change that can result from this new understanding!

Comments / 6

Published by

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

Richmond, VA

More from Bill Abbate

Comments / 0