The difference between dissatisfaction and hunger
Are you perfectly content with your life?
I hope not.
I hope you are driven by a divine discontentment. But I also hope that your discontentment leads to growth rather than grumbling, progress rather than protesting.
I once wrote that you should always be dissatisfied. But the truth is that I used the wrong word. There’s a profound difference, I’ve learned, between mere dissatisfaction and deep hunger.
There’s no shortage of dissatisfied people in America. Unemployment, underemployment, investment losses, political scandal, the disappearance of the middle class and the widening gap between rich and poor, the erosion of trust in institutions have all taken their toll.
Far fewer, unfortunately, are the people who are truly hungry.
The foundation of dissatisfaction is entitlement. The foundation of hunger is hope.
Dissatisfied is being ticked off at the world because you deserve a better life, and you blame everyone but yourself for your miserable life.
Hungry is being grateful for what you have, while also striving for something better. It’s being humble without being subservient. It’s taking absolute responsibility for your life and your circumstances, trusting in the timeless American value that anyone who works hard can make it.
Dissatisfied people look for handouts; hungry people look for opportunities. Dissatisfaction complains; hunger works. Dissatisfied people seek shortcuts; hungry people pay the price.
Dissatisfied is the entitled American whining about losing his job as he’s stretched out on the sofa collecting unemployment checks. Hungry is the hopeful immigrant hustling to make a buck as he’s stretched thin across three menial jobs.
I recently heard a speech from a man who, when he decided to take his business to Mexico, was told by many people, “Why in the world would you do that? Those people down there only earn about $700 a month. They don’t have any money to give you.”
He responded, “Yes, but the difference is this: In America, when I ask people if they want to make more money they say, ‘Do I have to do anything for it?’ In Mexico they say one word: ‘Si.'”
Dissatisfaction is discouraged, disheartened, despondent, despairing. Hunger is eager, enthusiastic, optimistic, determined.
Ironically, dissatisfaction is just a twisted and pathetic form of satisfaction; it’s complaining about your life without earning the right to do so by doing something about it. As I recently wrote, if you’re not willing to do something about what bothers you, it must not bother you all that much.
Dissatisfaction has settled for the status quo, but isn’t happy about it. Hunger is driven and ambitious, and finds joy and meaning in the struggle.
An even further irony is that dissatisfied people are skeptical of opportunities and solutions. They feel sick but they reject the very medicine that could save them. They hate their corporate job but they wouldn’t dream of starting a part-time business.
Dissatisfaction demands comfort and security. Hunger yearns for freedom.
Dissatisfaction is dependent; hunger is self-reliant. Dissatisfied people expect other people and institutions to satisfy them. Hungry people say, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”
Dissatisfaction is helpless; hunger is resourceful. Dissatisfaction gives away your power; hunger gathers, focuses, and expands it.
Dissatisfaction is toxic; hunger is contagious. Dissatisfaction spreads through organizations and cultures like a disease; hunger spreads like wildfire in the souls of men.
Dissatisfaction feeds on itself; petty complaints fester and multiply into implacable grievances.
Hunger both feeds on your dreams and feeds your dreams. The harder a hungry person strives to achieve his dream, the more powerful and compelling the dream becomes.
Hunger is the bridge between contentment and dissatisfaction. It prevents contentment from slipping into mediocrity, and provides a positive outlet for dissatisfaction.
I hope you love your life. But I also hope you always stay hungry.