5 Ways to Manage Discontentment Even After You’ve Got Everything (Fairy Godmothers Not Included!)

5 Ways to Manage Discontentment Even After You’ve Got Everything (Fairy Godmothers Not Included!)

Prerna, a whirlwind of ambition and talent, had conquered the coveted design position at the city's most prestigious fashion house. At 29, she navigated the bustling studio with the grace of a seasoned veteran, her sketches dancing across pristine fabric, each stitch promising a sliver of her dreams. Yet, amidst the accolades and envy-inducing Instagram stories, a persistent emptiness gnawed at her. The initial thrill of her success had dulled, replaced by a hollowness that designer clothes and industry parties could never fill.

Prerna wasn't alone.

As a psychologist, I often encounter clients who, like her, have achieved their goals yet struggle with a nagging discontent. We live in a culture obsessed with "having it all," where success is measured in tangible achievements. But what happens when you reach the pinnacle and the view isn't quite what you imagined?

The Culprits of Discontent:

Prerna's story illustrates several factors that can contribute to this feeling of unfulfilled success:

  1. The Hedonic Treadmill: Imagine happiness as a moving treadmill; no matter how fast you run, the scenery stays the same. This is the hedonic treadmill – our tendency to adapt to new circumstances, leaving us constantly chasing the next "thing" to feel content. Prerna might have initially found joy in the glamour of the fashion world, but as it became her reality, the novelty faded, replaced by a yearning for something more.
  2. Comparative Lens: Social media bombards us with curated snapshots of "perfect" lives, fueling feelings of inadequacy and discontent. Prerna, often surrounded by seemingly flawless colleagues and influencers, might have judged herself harshly, overlooking her achievements.
  3. Neglecting Intrinsic Values: The relentless pursuit of external validation can lead us to sideline our passions and values. Prerna, consumed by the demands of her career, might have neglected activities that brought her true joy, like painting or spending time with loved ones.

Stepping Off the Treadmill: 5 Pointers for Self-Care:

  1. Gratitude Practice: Acknowledge the good things already present in your life, not just what you lack. Start a gratitude journal, listing things you're grateful for – your supportive family, your creative abilities, even the challenges that help you grow.
  2. Reconnect with Values: Reflect on what truly matters to you beyond external validation. Is it artistic expression, spending time in nature, or making a difference in the world? Schedule activities that align with your values, rediscovering the joy they bring.


  1. Mindful Engagement: Be present in your experiences, savoring the journey, not just the destination. Practice mindfulness during your workday, focusing on the design process, and appreciating the intricacies of fabric and form.
  2. Cultivate Compassion: Be kind to yourself, acknowledging that setbacks and imperfections are part of the human experience. Challenge negative self-talk, replacing it with messages that recognize your effort and resilience.
  3. Meaningful Connections: Invest in deep, authentic relationships. Prioritize quality time with loved ones, fostering a sense of belonging and support that transcends career anxieties.


  • Happiness isn't a destination, but a journey. It's about savoring the present, aligning your actions with your values, and fostering genuine connections.
  • Be patient with yourself. Change takes time and effort. Celebrate your progress, no matter how big and small, and don't be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Prerna's story isn't an ending, but a beginning. By stepping off this proverbial treadmill and embracing these practices, she, and in turn, we all, can find deeper meaning and lasting fulfillment, even amidst the challenges life throws our way. 

Remember, the most beautiful designs often emerge from imperfections, and so can a life filled with genuine contentment.


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Meet the authors...

Our team is constantly learning, discussing and understanding human behaviour. We love understanding what makes people tick and identifying useful strategies to help them during sticky times.