Does contentment sound like a fantasy? Some sort of Pollyanna pipe dream only discussed by monks on faraway mountaintops? Many may think so. Considering our current state of affairs on the planet, the concept of contentment may seem even more outlandish and out-of-reach.
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What is contentment?
According to MerriamWebster.com and dictionary.com, contentment is feeling and showing satisfaction, happiness, and an ease of mind.
Who’s in charge of our contentment?
So, how much of our contentment lies within us, versus with our circumstances? Some of us may get our feathers ruffled by the following information, however, the sooner we accept it, the greater potential we have for contentment. Although we have wars, pandemics, eugenics, gender and color dynamics, drama and disagreements surrounding us, how peaceful we are is determined by us. If we get angry, we are angry from the inside. No one can make us be something we are not. That’s on us.
You’ve got it.
The first time I learned of the concept that we are responsible for our own feelings was in the early 2000s, when I read Wayne Dyer’s book, The Erroneous Zones. He made an excellent comparison that I will paraphrase. He said, if he was alone in a room, angry at a man who was not there, who would be responsible for his anger? The man is not even there, yet he was still angry! That’s when Wayne Dyer said he knew that he could no longer blame anyone for how he felt, and I agree.
Will we choose consciously?
Although we may not have known or understood ourself well enough to know our deeper feelings and direct our behavior, we can learn, and direct it now. At the end of last Sunday’s show, we posed a question to help us evolve, and become more conscious of our choices. The question may be posed to help us decide what to do. The question is, “Does what I am about to choose add contentment or chaos (also known as unhappiness)?” It’s something to consider.
Why might we choose unhappiness over contentment?
The problem we encounter when considering whether or not to retrain our mind to be content, is that we’ve been benefiting from the discontent—usually in an unconscious way. There are many reasons we may consciously or unconsciously choose to be dissatisfied. Here are ten sneaky reasons:
- We may think life is chaos. When life is quiet or peaceful, we may judge that life is boring, and “nothing is happening.” If we cannot be still to enjoy a sweet breeze or the flight of a bird for more than mere moments before we seek something to distract us from our anxiety, then this applies to us.
- We may be afraid of the unknown. If all we’ve known is chaos, then we may keep our life full of chaos to avoid a void, or quiet space, which may involve unknown elements.
- We may be afraid of making decisions, so we create chaos as a means to delay making decisions.
- We may be afraid of making a mistake, so we create chaos as a means to not choose and therefore not make a mistake.
- We may be afraid of success, so we create chaos to interfere with our success.
- We may be afraid of failure, so we create chaos as an excuse to fail.
- We may have general fear, which can lead to erratic decision-making and general chaos.
- We may be overly critical of ourself, thinking that we could or should “do better,” so we create chaos as a means to excuse our less-than-perfect performance.
- We may desire to be a hero or warrior. We may create chaos and discontent as a battle to conquer, thereby appearing heroic or warrior-like.
- We may hold a belief that we are not worthy of a happily content life.
Will we continue to invite unhappiness?
If we’ve chosen to benefit from discontent in any of these ways, we have been inviting unhappiness. It may be the only way we’ve known life to be, and it may seem like the only way life can be. If we relate to the idea that dissatisfaction and discontent are the norm, then here are some reasons we might consider contentment as a viable alternative.
What are the results of an unhappy life?
Scientific research and the long faces we may wear show that discontent is not the healthiest way to live. As shown on the American Psychology Association website,
“Compared with their grandparents, today’s young adults have grown up with much more affluence, slightly less happiness and much greater risk of depression and assorted social pathology,” notes Hope College psychologist David G. Myers, PhD, author of the article, which appeared in the American Psychologist (Vol. 55, No. 1). “Our becoming much better off over the last four decades has not been accompanied by one iota of increased subjective well-being.”
As listed on WebMD, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and discontent diminish overall wellbeing, and can lead to obesity, depression, divorce, disease, and addictions and abuse of all sorts.
Is it possible to be content?
With practice, it is possible to be content, even amidst external circumstances. In the beginning it can be challenging, since discontent is a habit that needs to be broken just like any other addiction. And that’s the way we need to treat discontent. Like a bad habit that kills our satisfaction, peace, and happiness.
Contentment requires peace, discipline, focus, and a little mystery.
Contentment requires peace. When we are at peace, we can experience satisfaction in even simple things like a meal, a sunset, or sleep. If we are not at peace, the meal may taste bad, we won’t notice the sunset and we won’t sleep well. To be happily content and satisfied with ourself and life, we need to be at peace with ourself—who we are, the choices we have made, and the results that occur.
Peace requires discipline.
To be at peace with ourself requires discipline. Here’s an example. Most, or all of us, can relate to having done something that we know wasn’t good for us. Maybe it was eating a gallon of ice cream, binge-watching tv, or gratifying a craving with a drug, a person, or another habit. What may have seemed like fun at the time, later turned to guilt, regret, and harsh consequences, all of which can be considered discontent. Peace and contentment require us to have discipline to make choices that maintain or improve our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Discipline requires focus.
When we are scattered and unfocussed, contentment will elude us. Because as it has been said, where our focus goes, energy flows. If we scatter our energy to the wind, we will sometimes be happy, sometimes unhappy, sometimes we will be angry, sometimes we will be depressed, we will be all over the place. When we are content, we are focused on what makes our life happy, satisfying and puts our mind at ease.
What can we do be more content?
Here are seven tips to greater contentment:
Tip #1 Clear ourself energetically, emotionally, and physically. This may be done through prayer, fasting, sea salt baths, time in nature and/or meditating, energy work, creative arts and exercise, to name a few.
Tip #2 Accept life as it is, now. Acceptance allows us to be satisfied with ourself and life. Both can change for the better AND be accepted right now.
Tip #3 Accept that everything changes. Everything is in flux and holds potential for a more enjoyable experience.
Tip #4 Refocus on: nature, beauty, joy, fun, love, hope, and our mission for this life.
Tip #5 Be our best. When we are and do our best, it’s easier to let go and be content, because we’ve done everything that we can.
Tip #6 Be grateful. To be highly content, satisfied and even happy, we can focus on all for which we are grateful.
Tip #7 Know our worth. Not in a high-mannered way, but we can simply know that we are as worthy as ANY being, to experience contentment.
By refocusing away from what creates unhappiness, we build willpower and increase contentment.
Each and every time we choose to refocus away from what makes us feel discontent and onto what makes us feel content, constructive, helpful, hopeful, joyful, and beautiful, we build our willpower. Each of us have the free will to choose what we focus upon. In the past, our willpower muscles may have been inadvertently used to focus on our discontent and unhappiness. If we feel ourself slipping into that old habit and we don’t like it anymore, we can gently, calmly and kindly say to ourself, “I focus on peaceful things now,” or, “I focus on what I am grateful for,” or, “I focus on things that inspire me.” As we seek this new focus, we shall find happiness, peace, and contentment.
What say ye?
Will you choose to be content more often? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section, so we may grow in strength and willpower together…
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