I recently had a brief conversation with three separate men while on vacation in Hawaii. All were in their late 60’s. Jim worked at a snorkel shop.  He had been an elementary teacher before moving from the Mainland to the Big Island. His “well-designed” retirement included a heavy portion of beach life. While his finances allowed him to retire, Jim’s wife wanted to continue working. She consequently secured a job at one of the resorts near their home. For the first six months Jim hit the beach almost every day. A snorkeler, he became an expert on the various varieties of tropical fish along the shoreline. But then it hit…boredom. Jim had followed his dream and well…completed it. In order to counter his discontentment he took a job at the snorkel shop. Currently he seems pretty passionate about helping people have a grand underwater experience as well as providing education for his customers in ways they can help protect the local coral and fish.

Andy works in the valet services for one of the resorts. He moved from Southern California where he was a builder. When he came to Kona he looked for land to build his very own home in paradise. Five years after he completed the construction, he laughingly remarked that his wife “threatened to kill him” it he didn’t get out of the house more. Andy being an outgoing guy tried a few poker games and other social gatherings. But then in his own words “struck it rich” when he got the job at the resort. He is the very happy man who greets you when you drive up to register. Management knew what they were doing when they put him in that position. His enthusiasm easily convinces you that you are about to have a great stay in Paradise.

While I met Jeff on the Big Island, he did not live there. He was on vacation with his family who were part of our zipline group. He was wearing a cap with a “Cal” logo on it. It didn’t take long to engage him in conversation since I too made many trips from the Napa Valley to Berkeley to attend my classes for graduate school. As it turns out, though both he and his wife worked for the tech industry in California, they moved to Denver so she could be of help to her aging parents. Jeff retired a couple years ago. Then it happened…boredom. I wondered if his wife had any mandates for him?  Getting out of bed in the mornings for Jeff got easier when he allowed himself to be wooed by his old boss. He is now working part time from his basement.

Three men. They all came from different careers but had the same need…to beat discontentment. Without meaning in our lives, things start to sour fairly rapidly.

So what about you? Do you have a well-thought-out strategy to fight discontentment? Any success or failure stories you are willing to share?

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