Would you embrace the label of “malcontent”? Maybe you would be prefer “rebel” or “disrupter” or “contrarian”? I prefer malcontent because of the definition (you can read the entire definition for yourself by clicking here). “One who is in active opposition to an established order” resonates with me because it defines my stance for better or worse. For years I have actively sought “peace” in my life. I thought I wanted to be “content” but what I have recently realized is the dissonance I was feeling was the subconscious effort to “fit in” and be what I thought I was supposed to be. I was trying to extinguish my natural inclination of being discontent with the status quo and just be normal…by generally accepted societal standards.
What I have come to realize is simply this…that is not who I am and now I am at peace. As Popeye was fond of saying, “I yam what I yam”. The real value in malcontentedness (I just made this word up by the way) is that by its nature it seeks out other malcontents and other types of malcontentedness. There is no right or wrong way to be a malcontent! There is even research that indicates the seeking out new people and ideas is the foundation of learning and growth. Amazingly enough, it has been proven in several studies that people learn better in heterogeneous groups and there is also research that indicates heterogeneous networks are stronger than homogeneous ones. What this means is “different” is a good thing. We need different…we need change…we need less sameness.
We are, however, challenged by our very nature. Humans seek homeostasis because it enables us to conserve energy (both mentally and physically). It is all too easy to settle in and switch on auto-pilot. We also have to be wary of success because that is yet another trap we can fall into. We begin to think we know more than we do and end up with an overdeveloped sense of control. Remember what John Wooded said, “Success is never final…”
Would you identify yourself as a malcontent? Why? Why not? I believe we should all be who we are and that means if you are a malcontent, then revel in your malcontentedness just as someone who is content should embrace contentedness. There are also degrees of malcontentedness so sometimes malcontents are difficult to spot…one might even say subversive. Just remember that what might be normal for you might be outrageous for your neighbor. I think the best gift we can gift people is the permission to be who they are. Understanding that do have a basic social contract so there are some norms we should abide by if we expect to be welcome by people as a whole. That said, there is plenty of grey area to be exploited as the social contract can (and should be) broadly interpreted.
The easiest way to determine if you are a malcontent is to ask yourself why you do certain things and then evaluate the repercussions if you choose a different course of action. These are all very personal decisions and must rest solely with the individual and there can be no judgement. Each person determines their path with their own compass.
I think it is an old Native American saying that goes something like this…”The longest journey you will ever take is the one from your head to your heart”. We all travel the same road but some might be invigorated by heading south of the neck more frequently.