Leading Ideas: The Positive Power of Discontent

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.”
— Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish writer

I hadn’t looked through Pema Chodron’s books in years until I came across them while packing my office for a move this week. She’s a buddhist nun and an internationally renown expert on using tough situations for growth. In When Things Fall Apart she recounts a powerful story of when her husband told her he was cheating on her. At the time she physically attacked him. But years later she grew to realize that he saved her life. As she tells it, the anger she felt transformed her. It forced her to wake up and change.


Something to consider:

Discontent isn’t negative. Rather, it’s a powerful catalyst for positive change. If you’re unhappy, pissed off, or angry, go with it. Use it to your advantage. Use it to get curious about your challenges. Use it to experiment with new opportunities and solutions. Change something.

Something to try:

1. List some things you’re not content with.
2. Pick one you’d most like to change.
3. Be a detective. Start to uncover how the situation got to where it is.
4. Don’t beat yourself up. Accept your past mistakes as important learning points.
5. Do some things differently.

Question: How has discontent helped you change?