Aristotle said that all creative people are dissatisfied because they are looking for happiness in perfection and seeking for things that do not exist. This is one of the hopes of the world. There is no progress where people are satisfied. Discontent is perhaps the most potent challenge to improvement.
Those who are versed in the history of their country, in the history of the human race, must know that rigorous state prosecutions have always preceded the era of convulsion; and this era, I fear, will be accelerated by the folly and madness of our rulers. If the people are discontented, the proper mode of quieting their discontent is, not by instituting rigorous and sanguinary prosecutions, but by redressing their wrongs and conciliating their affections. Courts of justice, indeed, may be called in to the aid of ministerial vengeance; but if once the purity of their proceedings is suspected, they will cease to be objects of reverence to the nation; they will degenerate into empty and expensive pageantry, and become the partial instruments of vexatious oppression. Whatever may become of me, my principles will last forever. Individuals may perish; but truth is eternal. The rude blasts of tyranny may blow from every quarter; but freedom is that hardy plant which will survive the tempest and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavorable soil.
There are two kinds of discontent in this world: The discontent that works, and the discontent that wrings its hands. The first gets what it wants, and the second loses what it has. There's no cure for the first but success; and there's no cure at all for the second.
It’s easier to succeed because failure exacts a high price in terms of time when you have to do a job over. It’s easier to succeed because success eliminates the agony and frustration of defeat. It’s easier to succeed because money spent to fail must be spent again to succeed. It’s easier to succeed because a person’s credibility decreases with each failure, making it harder to succeed the second time. And it’s easier to succeed because joy and expressions of affirmation come from succeeding, whereas feelings of discouragement and discontent accompany failure.
To secure one’s own happiness is a duty, at least indirectly; for discontent with one’s condition, under a pressure of many anxieties and amidst unsatisfied wants, might easily become a great temptation to transgression of duty.
Discontentment is human, contentment is divine. Animals know neither contentment nor discontentment; they simply go on living mechanically, unconsciously. It is the great privilege of human being to be aware of discontent. To be aware of discontent means there is a possibility to grow towards contentment. But very few people make any effort towards inner growth. Their whole life is rooted in a misunderstanding. They think that if they have a bigger house or more money or more power or more prestige they will be contented; that if they become famous, if their name is known all over the world, then they will be contented. That is sheer nonsense.
Happiness is not a synonym for self-satisfaction, complacency, or smugness. Self-satisfaction breeds futility and despair. All that is creative in man stems from a seed of endless discontent. New insight begins when satisfaction comes to an end, when all that has been seen, said, or done looks like a distortion. The aim is the maintenance and fanning of a discontent with our aspirations and achievements, the maintenance and fanning of a craving that knows no satisfaction. Man’s true fulfillment depends upon communion with that which transcends him.