Does Progress Require Discontent?

I love quotes, inspiration, self discovery and personal development. It's somewhat of a passion of mine. Therefore, many times you hear from me here or elsewhere, these are the topics I am usually exploring or contemplating. Label them hobbies, if you will, because I believe that sharpening the tool of your own skill set is central to how you achieve anything of significance and live the life you desire. I came across a quote today that really spoke to me in several ways that I wanted to explore with you:

"Discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I'll show you a failure." - Thomas Edison

This thought really stopped me in my tracks. Thomas Edison, a man that most of us would agree left a legacy and significant impact, might be onto something here with this bold and controversial declaration. 

As I reflect personally on this, I realize I usually am driven by continual improvement and a sense of discontent with where I am and where I want to be. However there are times in which my inner voice tells me I am too demanding on myself. Perhaps this conflict arises from some external forces at work causing me to believe I put too much pressure on myself to push forward, on to the next objective or to immediately become the next best version of myself. The dominant self talk in my head constantly encourages me to seek to reinvent my skills, to improve my knowledge, further my expertise. Sometimes it seems there are two voices fighting for my attention - one saying "keep climbing, no matter the price" and another saying "slow down, the pain isn't worth it!" I know which voice is dominant for me and can't say for certain it's the right approach, but Thomas Edison's quote has me considering.

The feeling of discontent, which is a dominant driving force in my life, causes a constant sense of tension physically within my body. At times it makes me feel like I've got weights bearing down on me. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel stressed, rushed or even confused at times. I have become somewhat familiar with these feelings, but I do observe nonetheless how being discontent makes me feel. I frequently listen to the alternative voice telling me I could be better off abandoning this line of thinking. Maybe the alternative, satisfaction, is a more enjoyable life. 

Like many of you, I have audacious goals. Mostly, they serve as an inspiration for my daily actions. Occasionally, they serve as a reminder that I have a very, very long way to go. The tension continues. Good and bad. Hero and villain. Discontent and satisfaction. I recently heard the suggestion for people like us to live with a sense of "blissful dissatisfaction," which resonated with me tremendously. Maybe the thought is, we can be discontent and satisfied with the growth, the progress and the process all at the same time? Perhaps that's the secret sauce. Let's keep traveling along the path together and find the answers to these questions. 

Let me hear from you in the comments. Which camp are you in - discontent or satisfaction?

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