I just reread Siddharta, the beautiful novel by Herman Hesse, published in 1923. The main character searches for the meaning of life in a wide variety of ways: by living as an ascetic, by indulging himself in alcohol and sex, by trying to understand great teachers (never following them), by listening to the wisdom of a river. In the end he concludes that every experience in his life was necessary to truly see that everything is connected and that everything is exactly right as it is.
The latter insight reminded me of Life is good, the phrase with which Marshall Goldsmith, the most prominent leadership coach in the world, always signs off his emails. I tend to agree with Goldsmith and Siddharta that life is good and I often actually deeply experience it that way.
I am also convinced that dissatisfaction with life as it is can lead to great things. Entrepreneurs, CEOs and inventors often come up with new ideas, projects and initiatives because they experience a discontent with things as they are. That discontent is a great driver for innovation and change.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”, American author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote. Apparently I don’t have a first-rate intelligence. I cannot reconcile the opposing ideas of experiencing that life is good on the one hand and the positive drive that comes from discontent on the other hand.