The Dissatisfaction Cycle

Back in January, I began to theorize about the vicious cycle of dissatisfaction.

The cycle that I (theoretically) observed as it related to wanting things that I couldn’t or shouldn’t have looked like this:

1. See thing, love thing, want thing
2. Connive to obtain thing
3. Anticipate how thing will make life perfect
4. Become inevitably disappointed when thing does not make life perfect
5. Develop self-contempt/buyer’s remorse when thing does not make life perfect.
6. Start seeking new thing to make life perfect. (Rinse repeat)

This cycle is born in the desire to have a perfect life, which is, on its face, a laudable desire. Who doesn’t want a perfect life, right?

Initially, I theorized that the problem is twofold: Firstly, living, as we do, on Earth 1, there is no such thing as a perfect life. Secondly, most of the time we don’t have enough foresight to know what would make our life perfect at any given phase of it, and even then, it will be perfect for only a moment. We really only know what was perfect once it is gone.

Thirdly, and this is a more recent observation, very often when we are about to make a decision, we do not consider the possibility for regret. We (ahem, I) get so caught up in the anticipation of this thing sublimating our happiness, that we (I do mean I) do not even permit ourselves to consider that we might regret it.

For someone whose one true desire is contentment, I have often gotten caught up in the hurricane of wanting stuff and situations that I cannot or should not have, enjoying all the potential for happiness, without considering the potential for regret.

As I get deeper into my Jekyll and Hyde research about dissatisfaction, I want to pay very careful attention to the point at which “wallowing” becomes a choice. When I get to that point, I need to find a way to ask myself about the potential for regret.

I came across this quote from Elizabeth Elliot a few years ago, and I find it to be particularly relevant to this topic:

Spiritual strongholds begin with a thought. One thought becomes a consideration. A consideration develops into an attitude, which leads then to action. Action repeated becomes a habit, and a habit establishes a “power base for the enemy,” that is, a stronghold.

Elizabeth Elliot

Whatever is keeping me from being content with my life is a stronghold. Strongholds start with a thought. Wallowing is what Elizabeth Elliot calls “a consideration”, and is just a series of thoughts strung together about how much better my life could be if I just had x, y or z.

I need to get out of this cycle.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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