Contentment – the state of happiness and satisfaction – means feeling settled in your body, having peace in your heart and calmness of mind. That can be pretty difficult to attain, and more challenging still to live in that place each moment!
Contentment is wanting what you have, and loving and accepting who you are now; rather than wanting what you don’t have or thinking you should be different than who you are. The potential for contentment is within all of us, beneath all the other feelings and thoughts that seem to tie us up. Contentment is about letting go, releasing, allowing what isn’t you to drop away to reveal the peace, calmness and radiance that is already naturally within your true self. Our natural state is contentment — it’s the thinking mind and the influence of the world around us that can throw us off course.
More, more, more!
Statistics show that if you wear shoes, you are wealthier than 75% of the people in the world. If you have a roof over your head, and a meal on your table, you are richer than 93% of the world’s population. We imagine that self improvement, achieving, or getting something is what makes us happy. But that kind of happiness generally lasts for a moment or two, then it’s on to the next thing, and the quest for contentment never ends. Appreciating both who you are now and what you already have flips this inner dynamic around, allowing you to feel a deep sense of grounded contentment. This contented knowing — that you are enough and what you have is enough — is liberating and can help to free you from entanglement, producing joy and contentment within your whole being.
You were created in wholeness – you have always been whole and complete – and you will always remain whole. This is fact according to the art and science of yoga – ‘yoga’ means ‘union’. If what we’re practicing is real yoga, then it will help us to remember that “I’m already whole and complete exactly as I am”. There is nothing necessary to add or subtract from you. God /Goddess /Universe /Higher Power, or whatever your name is for the forces that be, created you in wholeness. Knowing and continuing to remind yourself that there’s nothing to change, and no need to attain, allows us to feel content with what we have and who we are.
This does not mean giving up or being complacent – there are injustices in the world that we may feel need our attention, and there may be old habits or beliefs that you want to let go that are holding you back from living fully. But here again, this is about letting go what isn’t you – releasing the habit or negative beliefs — to allow the authentic you to live life from your center. It’s about focusing on yourself in acceptance, and extending acceptance to every aspect of your whole life. And from that place of inner-contentment, change does happen. Gandhi is a great example with his practices of nonviolence and truth, living modestly in a self-sufficient community, and taking action against injustices.
Simplicity is the heartbeat of contentment. It’s about being content with less, because when you think it through, less ‘stuff’ means more free time and space to be present with yourself and with the world around you. Consider that each ‘thing’ you own costs you the time earning money to pay for it, at some point will likely need to be cleaned and need some form of maintenance, and a perhaps a final decision to recycle it, give it away, or add more to the landfill. All of that takes time, energy, and resources that could have been spent gazing into a flower, noticing your breath, loving your loved ones, communing with nature…
Simplicity and Contentment are practices: the ‘thinking mind’ was designed to want more. The soul is restless and full of activity – we are filled with myriad thoughts and feelings, bouncing and ricocheting through us, and pulling us in many directions. Have faith that like training a puppy, with practice, over and over and over again, you can shift into being content with who you are, what you have, and what you have accomplished.
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