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Positive Discontent

 

Positive and discontent. The words don’t seem to go together. For we all know, too well, those times of discontent. When we are out of sorts and at times grumpy. Where things are just not right. When our worlds are not awful… but neither are they awesome.

So to describe those times of discontent with an adjective of “positive” jolts us. Far better pairings might use the words dark or disconcerting or uncomfortable. But positive? How can that be?

Discontent can be positive when it signals to us that something needs to change. When it causes us to examine our situation in more detail. When it prompts us to envision better options, and especially when it spurs us to action.

Innovation from Positive Discontent

I suspect there would be very little innovation without positive discontent. Our founding fathers used positive discontent to “form a more perfect union”. The drawbacks of horse drawn carriages prompted the invention of the motor car. Discontent with the first handheld cellar phone, which weighed 2.5 pounds, cost $3,995 and enabled a half hour of talk time on a full charge fueled rapid improvements in cell phone design and technology.

Virtually every invention is the human attempt to “make things better”.

The trap in times of discontent is becoming numb. Too often we persevere, suck it up, blame others, or claim hopelessness. This is tolerable for a short time and terrible for a life time.

And so putting the words “positive” and “discontent” can serve us well. It enables us to see discontent as a signal that we need to slow down and examine the cause of the discontent. In that slowing down time, we can explore what is at the root of all this unhappiness. We can envision what is better. We can tap into the creativity that discontent can spark. We can refuse to passively accept that which is not whole and solid and healthy and good.

What if you looked at disconnect as an early warning sign? The canary in the coal mine? The little voice that tells you to wake up and move on, to grow into your potential, to move to a better place? What then?

Might you really see the positive aspects that discontent holds?


Evergreen Leadership is excited to announce we are accepting nominations for the second annual Community Builders Award. The Community Builders Award recognizes and connects emerging leaders (between ages of 25 and 40) across the state of Indiana who are actively working to improve their leadership and the communities they live in.

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