Is it possible to be discontent and not know it?
What if discontentment disguised itself and we unwittingly called it something else? Like a Pinterest feed…
I want a bigger house, faster car, and a higher paying job; that’s what it means to be discontent, right?
The Apostle Paul wrote about what it means to content.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
Paul, while in prison(1)Doing Time in a First-Century Prison (insight.org), wasn’t worried about his circumstances. Not that he enjoyed being in prison, but his strength came from Christ and prison couldn’t take that away.
I’m not in prison. I’ve never been in prison. I’ve been through financial difficulty due to my own bad decisions, but I got through it by remembering my strength comes from Christ.
Unfortunately, I think I found a new way to be discontent.
I’m a digital packrat.
Are digital packrats discontent?
I’m one of those people who swipes through Pinterest looking for ideas and “pinning” everything I might one day need.
You know where I’m going with this.
I save these things and rarely go back to them.
Here’s the catch, it doesn’t bother me if I never go back to them, I just want to save them in my pin list, you know, just in case.
I do the same thing with articles and websites.
My Pocket is packed.
My Evernote is bursting.
I actually have two Evernote accounts. And OneNote.
Why do I save things?
What do I hope to accomplish by hording digital information?
I think it’s a form of being discontent.
I’m discontent with the amount of knowledge I have and so I save more and more and more even though I may never use it. I don’t trust my brain to remember enough and instead of discerning between information worth saving, worth committing to memory, or worth a passing glance, I just save all of it.
Is this a problem?
I’m starting to think it is a problem. It’s an intellectual discontentment. I wish I knew more. I don’t want a bigger house. I want a bigger brain.
The problem isn’t readily apparent, which is why I think it’s in disguise. It reveals itself when you ask, “What would happen if I got rid of my digital collection?”
Immediately, everything I’ve saved becomes important and I start to argue with myself.
Do I have to get rid of all of it? Right now?
And that’s how I know I have a problem and my notions of contentment are more self-righteous than I expected.
Is there a cure?
Discontentment whether classic, digital, or otherwise is a personality problem. There’s no cure for personality problems, in my unqualified opinion. There’s only retraining.
To train you need a strategy.
Fortunately, I’ve saved hundreds of articles on developing strategies.
Still, you need a strategy, or strategery, for those fans of President George W. Bush.
Developing a Strategy
The first thing you have to ask yourself is
Do I believe this is a problem?
If the answer isn’t a solid “yes” then your implementation is dead in it’s tracks. You might delete everything, but sure enough, you’ll start collecting again because now you’ll think it’s no big deal. In fact, they(2)You know who “they” are. often say people who return to an addiction are worse off than before because the inhibition is gone. (3)Check out Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26 for some intense imagery about ridding your life of sin without a foundation in Christ. I’m not saying addicts are demon possessed, but the point is the same.
Stop saving digital content.
Just for now, stop the bleeding, so to speak. Don’t add to the mess while you’re trying to clean it up.
Take care of the “BIG” stuff.
Casually flip through what you’ve saved and delete duplicates, things you no longer find relevant or interesting, things you don’t remember why you saved them. Quick scan. Don’t think about it too much. You didn’t think about it when you saved it, did you.
Divvy up the rest
Start putting digital content on a timer.
This is where you have to decide what’s causing your discontent. I have a lot of music, movies and family pictures saved. These don’t bother me, but maybe it’s a stumbling for you.
Whatever digital content is causing your discontent needs to be categorized and dealt with.
I’ve saved a number of articles because I think this is information I should have handy for a long time when in reality I just need to read the article and glean what I can and then let it go.
I’ve save a number of pictures for potential characters in potential stories I might write eventually. I’ve found when I do sit down to write a story, none of the pictures I’ve saved are quite the right character. I have to look for more.
I’ve saved a number of wood working projects I hope to get and I have completed many of them. Unfortunately, it takes awhile to get to them and I forget I saved them, so I look for more.
Location, Location, Location
Finally, minimize the save locations. I’m a packrat. I have multiple apps to save all the digital content I don’t use. This is the toughest part, honestly. As a programmer I’m always on the lookout for better apps, but all I’m doing is creating more and more bins I have to look through to find what I need.
As much as possible, put everything in one spot.
This way, at the very least, you’ll see everything you’ve saved and if it gets in the way, you’ll get rid of it.
Discontentment in Disguise
I know my strategy is simple, but the point is recognizing my discontent in disguise.
Discontentment isn’t just wanting something newer, or better, for the sake of wanting something newer or better. It’s also saving what you don’t need, even in the digital realm. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t holding you back.
Digital discontentment can weigh on us because we know those things are out there waiting for us. We know we saved them for a reason. We think we saved them for a reason, but all they do is sit out there in the cloud calling to us like the Sirens of Greek myth, but they don’t even have to shipwreck us. Just knowing they’re there is enough to keep us discontent.
The truth is, I save too much digital content and I spend too much time trying to organize it.
|↑1||Doing Time in a First-Century Prison (insight.org)|
|↑2||You know who “they” are.|
|↑3||Check out Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26 for some intense imagery about ridding your life of sin without a foundation in Christ. I’m not saying addicts are demon possessed, but the point is the same.|
|↑4||Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash|