Understanding Chronic Dissatisfaction (CD), and accepting that it’s a common experience, is the first part of transforming it into a force for good in your life. The second part, wisdom for befriending it, is examined in this sixth and final article in the series. To start at the first article in the series, click here.
Through studying yoga, I learned how normal I was to regularly feel dissatisfied in life, in that amorphous, recurring way that I’d come to call CD. In yoga I discovered sophisticated philosophies and rich texts going back centuries, which specifically addressed CD and its corollaries, if by other names. Yoga offered paths to deal with suffering in physical terms, emotional ways, and transcendent terms.
I learned of the concept of Dukkha, which in broadest terms means suffering of all kinds, from emotional dissatisfaction to physical pain, death and all life’s hardships. There is great benefit in recognising the ever-present nature of all kinds of suffering as normal and from that basis, cultivating wisdom and practices to cope with suffering.
Dukkha is neither a thing to be loved nor hated, but a reality to be acknowledged and mindfully accepted as a part of life. That’s a very liberating attitude to suffering, rather than seeing it as paralysing and terrifying. It’s taught that all living creatures must in some way experience and deal with suffering and dissatisfaction – it’s inescapable because we are mortal. We must face challenges, age, and eventually die, as matters of fact. Therefore, there is little point wasting our energy trying to run from the great ‘inevitables’ of life and death. Better that we get our heads around our reality with all its good and lousy parts, and live fully in the precious time we have, with our eyes wide open.
For me, it is intelligent, good self-care to accept suffering and dissatisfaction as realities of life so I am more prepared to face inevitable challenges. That acknowledgement and acceptance of CD is the first part of transforming it into your ally. That perspective takes a great deal of the power out of CD when it starts to rise in you. The second part is enlisting your energies fully in a greater purpose and force within yourself, a force that is the opposite to dukkha.
Love is the cure for dissatisfaction
There is no greater neutraliser for the dissatisfactions of being alive, no greater place to find meaning and purpose in the randomness of everything, than love. Before you put your fingers down your throat, I’m not talking about love in a teddies and hearts, cheesy kind of way. I’m talking about love as a magnetic motivator pulling you forward with such massive invisible power you can throw the weight of your body and soul onto it, knowing it won’t fail you. Love so strong in all areas of your life that your soul knows it’s invincible. Love that ensures we are utterly kind and compassionate in the values behind all our striving. I’m talking about identifying 360 degrees of love that will pull you forward with powerful energy that will feed you constantly.
There are three areas of love to focus on in creating a feeling of wholeness and integration in your world. Once identified – these three great loves of your life form a powerful and ever-evolving compass to always keep you on track and CD in its place. There is no more powerful way to manage CD than to find a sense of deep integration within yourself by having your values and desires – your loves – guiding you. In transforming dissatisfaction from a form of paralysis to the ultimate passion rocket fuel – love is always the answer. We can fall in love with so many people and things but ultimately, there exist only three over-arching great loves of our lives:
Self-compassion, meaning being self-aware, kind and non-violent to yourself in your words and action, including becoming mindful of self-defeating patterns of thoughts, so you can choose a different focus when they visit you;
Mindful relationships – nurturing meaningful connections with other beings (animal, mineral, vegetable or spiritual);
And Flow, also called Peak Experiences, which means discovering and giving yourself to pursuits or work that you love, in which time dissolves and you merge with the object of your attention.
Recognising your three loves, knowing exactly what they are for you, and where you find them, is a key to greater experiences of happiness and wellbeing. It’s also the greatest antidote to CD. Why wouldn’t it be? We want to spend more time doing what we love, being with the beings we love, and feeling good about ourselves. So why not prioritise those desires and let the three core loves guide our direction in life? Guide us in everything?
In short, these three are the compass to guide you in your internal world, and using them to guide your inner choices will organically be reflected in more soul-centred, self-supportive choices in the outer world. The three great loves of our lives – self-compassion, mindful relationships, and flow – are universal – meaning they exist across all the variations of us as unique individuals. Although they are consistent, they take different forms and measures in each of us. Living from them is a map to – joy, fulfilment, sense of purpose and grounding in the world.
Being motivated by the loves means knowing yourself better, activating your deepest strengths and eliminating a lot of confusion and stress about your life’s path. Living from the three loves means knowing that you’re on track because you’re generally living a life of passionate engagement, and dissatisfaction becomes a sometime assistant, rather than a constant foe.