Let Dissatisfaction Drive You Forward!

Dear friend,

I don’t think there are “good” or “bad” emotions. To become the fullest developed human, we must feel the furthest extents of our human emotions. What matters to succeed and thrive in life: harness all of your emotions, desires, and dissatisfactions in a positive way— to propel you forward, and to the highest summits of life!

DOWNLOAD PDF: Let dissatisfaction drive you forward

Dissatisfaction as a source of innovation

Cindy hand shadow, selfie. Kyoto, uji

We often think that dissatisfaction is a bad thing that we must “cure”. The point of Buddhism and zen is to eradicate “cravings” and desires.

However to me, I think that having dissatisfaction is good for us. If we were satisfied with the horse and carriage, we would have never invented cars, or spaceships. If we were satisfied with letter writing and snail mail, we would never have invented the Internet.

Don’t complain; figure out solutions!

Cindy hand shadow, uji, tilt, Dutch angle

With the dissatisfactions we experience in life, we can either sit on our butts, complain, mope, and do nothing about it.

Or, we can do something much more positive: seek to find solutions to our dissatisfactions in life, in order to improve our lives, and the lives of others (who experience the same dissatisfactions as we do).

Cindy hand shadow turning around

For example when I started street photography, I was dissatisfied that there wasn’t much information online how to shoot street photography. Rather than simply complaining about it, I decided to be the “change which I wished to see in the world” (inspired by Gandhi). I started this blog, and started to share my experimentations, learnings, and lessons in shooting street photography.

Cindy blur, turning around . Osaka

I also think when it comes to philosophy and science, it is our hunger for truth, knowledge, and wisdom which drives us. It is our dissatisfaction with our lack of knowledge which drives us.

How I discovered philosophy

Cindy head tilt. Osaka, 2018
Osaka, 2018 #cindyproject

For example, in my life, I have always been hungry to discover the secret of “happiness” in life, because I was dissatisfied and unconvinced by modern American solutions to being happy through mindless consumerism and consumption.

This dissatisfaction drove me to discovering philosophy, to find more direction, purpose, and meaning in my life.

My personal dissatisfactions

Osaka urban landscape. Red, yellow, blue. 2018
Osaka urban landscape. Red, yellow, blue. 2018

Even with photography, I am very dissatisfied with the whole field. I’m dissatisfied with all the new cameras that are coming out —I don’t feel like there is enough revolutionary innovations. Thus I’ve been trying to philosophize what we truly need in new cameras, or what is the most exciting. So far my answer is in the field of mobile phone photography, computational photography, and digital medium format photography. Everything else seems lame to me.

Osaka Building
Osaka, 2018

I’m dissatisfied with social media, Instagram and Facebook, thus I got inspired and motivated to make ARS (photography feedback startup platform). This dissatisfaction also motivated me to delete my Instagram, which has been the best thing I’ve ever done as a photographer —feeling less distracted with my photography, and finding new ways to sharing my work (YouTube photography slideshows, uploading photo diaries to this blog).

Find solutions to your sources of dissatisfaction to create new wealth

Osaka graffiti, 2018
Osaka graffiti, 2018

So friend, to end this essay, I want to encourage you:

Discover the solutions to things which dissatisfy you in life, and offer these solutions to others.

I think this is a great photography entrepreneurial principle. If you’re able to discover practical solutions to your own problems, you can create a lot of value to the lives of others. As humans, we all want to be happy. By discovering new solutions which makes people happier, you can create a lot of new sources of wealth.

Cindy looking at river. Ryokan. Uji, 2018
Cindy looking at river. Ryokan. Uji, 2018

Thus, whenever something annoys or pisses you off, don’t just complain for the sake of it. Rather, seek how you can solve the problem.

When Elon Musk was stuck in traffic in LA and frustrated by it, he came up with the idea of the “Boring company”— making an underground network to reduce commuting times. This is a good example of using frustration and dissatisfactions in a positive and entrepreneurial way.

Cindy inside our Ryokan, looking out towards the water.
Cindy inside our Ryokan, looking out towards the water.

Case studies

RICOH GR II x Eric Kim Neck Strap
RICOH GR II x Eric Kim Neck Strap

As an assignment, reflect and meditate on your personal frustrations in your photography, and personal life. How can you solve your own personal life problems, and offer these solutions to others?

Here are some things I’ve done:

  1. Problem: Dissatisfied that I couldn’t shoot as many photos as I would like. Solution: Shoot with RICOH GR II in positive film high contrast JPEG mode, and developed ERIC KIM NECK STRAP for Ricoh to always have my camera with me, ready to make photos. And as a result, I’ve been shooting so much more photos that I’ve in the past, and have been so much happier and productive as a photographer.
  2. Problem: When making photography slideshow videos for YouTube, I would get copyright violations for using other people’s music. Solution: make my own beats in GarageBand, which has been awesome and created new sources of joy for me (music production is a new hobby and interest/passion of mine).
  3. Problem: Frustration traveling with too much heavy stuff. Solution: Experimenting with different setups, until discovering the magic of traveling light, the awesomeness of Merino wool, and having just one bag when traveling.
  4. Problem: carpal tunnel when typing too much on laptop. Solution: typing on iPad instead (fixed the pain). Also as a positive and unexpected side consequence, using an iPad Pro has also helped me be more productive and less distracted (you mostly single-task, instead of distracting multitasking).
  5. Problem: Frustration with Facebook groups and distractions and advertising in Facebook. Solution: making ERIC KIM FORUM as a more productive community for sharing ideas and photos.

Remember, the point isn’t to eliminate your ability to feel dissatisfaction in your life. The point is to use your dissatisfaction to find new sources of ideas, innovations, and solutions to your problems in a constructive and positive way!

BE BOLD and never stop innovating!

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ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP  by HAPTIC INDUSTRIES // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Take control of your own photographic destiny:

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Photography Entrepreneurship Articles

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Table of Contents

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Photography Business 101

How to Make Money with Photography


Photography Marketing 101


How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money


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