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Balancing Contentment with Inspirational Discontentment

Balancing Contentment with Inspirational Discontentment

One of the seventeen principles of success in the book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone is that of “inspirational discontentment.” The idea is that a person needs to be just discontented enough with his or her income or standard of living that it inspires them to greater success. At first glance there is a lot of logic in this statement, and probably most self-improvement comes about ultimately because a person isn’t happy with the status quo.

However, the greatest self-improvement book of all time, the Bible, makes the statement that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” We probably won’t arrive at a consensus as to what constitutes “godliness,” but think about the rest of what this statement says. Contentment is valuable! A person who has contentment has something that equals great gain, or wealth.

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Everyone has heard stories of multi-millionaires who were never satisfied regardless of how wealthy they became. They always had their heart set on the next dollar. The very essence of a joyous life eludes people like this. Discontentment inspires them to work hard and achieve wealth, but there is a very real possibility they will never advance far on the fundamental quest we all have for happiness.

Every individual needs to answer this question for themselves. With what aspects of my life am I discontented? How can this feeling inspire me to improve in these areas? And how can I taste the joy of living right now, in spite of the imperfections or even needs in my life?

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The popular radio personality, Dr. Laura (Schlessinger) wrote a book called Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess up Their Lives. One of the stupid things she writes about is “stupid ambition.” Ambition in and of itself is a good thing – a very valuable thing, in fact. But it becomes stupid when pursuing ambitious dreams takes up so much time that the more satisfying things of home, family, and relationship are crowded out. Sometimes self-help writers push the idea of saving some time out for oneself, but Dr. Laura says that the busy career oriented schedule is already dedicated to oneself! What about the spouse and the children? The time spent building relationships will ultimately contribute just as much to the overall quality of life.

Here are some suggestions for living now while pursuing lofty goals. First, schedule in some time each week for a date with your special sweetheart. Make it a priority. You don’t want to succeed in business but miss out on life. If you have children, you can schedule an evening or afternoon to play games and spend time with them. Start this habit now. Don’t wait until you meet your next financial or career goal.

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And, yes, there is a place for self-time. It can include your daily time of spiritual reflection or prayer, exercise, or other things you do to be good to yourself. The thing to remember is that it is possible to let yourself be content in some areas of life, while pursuing a greater level of skill or performance in other areas. One thing that helps a person develop contentment is the old-fashioned attitude of gratitude. Take the time to count your blessings often. Then let discontentment inspire you in areas where growth is needed.

A very tangible example of this principle from my own life is in the area of neatness. It is possible for me to enjoy my family while little by little building habits that help me keep things neater. I don’t have to sacrifice people for personal growth!

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Barbara Wood

References:
Complete Audio Holy Bible: King James Version (1st Timothy 6:6)
Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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