Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor Frankl
What if you simply decided this very moment to be content?
– At Ease
You can decide:
– I have enough.
– I am enough.
– I am more than enough.
– I am good enough.
– This is the perfect moment.
– This is the only moment.
– Whatever is unfolding in this moment is an opportunity.
Contentment Depends Upon Your Mind
Contentment depends entirely on your mind, and how you perceive the people and events that occur around you. Sure, external circumstances can trigger happiness or suffering to a certain extent, but it’s how you choose to respond to the ups and downs of life that determines your actual level of contentment.
Essentially, there are two kinds of happiness. One depends on material comfort or pleasure. The other is a deeper inner state of contentment, an attitude you can cultivate through practice.
What happens when you depend upon externals for your happiness? It’s easy to get caught in a never-ending cycle of wanting more. One adage compares desire to drinking salt water: the more you drink, the thirstier you become.
In fact, it’s easy to slip into a state of addiction. The positive feeling that comes along with a new possession or experience quickly fades, as we all know.
Then, you’re immediately pulled into the next explosion of consumption, whether its possessions or experiences, having lost control of your self, and any true sense of freedom or choice.
Everyone wants happiness and wishes to avoid suffering. Yet, these days so many of us desperately seek happiness in ways that boomerang, and bring suffering instead: excessive shopping, overspending, overeating, partying, prescription drug abuse, unhealthy relationships, and the list goes on.
Alarmingly, both depression and anxiety are on the rise despite the fact that, at least for most of us, our basic needs are met.
Happily, it is possible to cut the chain of suffering, and find a more enduring sense of contentment within. It starts with a revolution in your own mind.
Instead of looking outwardly for your happiness, turn your mind inwardly, be aware of your own thoughts and emotions, and learn to become the master of your own perceptions and how you respond.
The Way of Contentment
In short, contentment means being satisfied with yourself and with your situation. But, how do you go from a state of dissatisfaction to one of contentment and ease? It requires training your mind to be happy and at ease. Use these practical strategies to create more contentment in your day-to-day life.
- Remember impermanence
Whatever you’re feeling this moment will change, usually in a matter of seconds. But, if you try to hold onto a feeling of happiness you will feel discontent instead.
Your possessions are subject to failure and impermanence so they can never bring you a sense of true contentment. Be satisfied with what you have, and purchase mindfully when the need arises.
Worldly success is fickle, and it’s doesn’t necessarily bring more joy and happiness. Often, it’s married to more striving, worry, and stress. So enjoy whatever success you might have in the moment, but don’t expect it to continue eternally.
- Reject self-judgment
Don’t you notice how a good deal of your dissatisfaction comes from comparing yourself to others, to an ideal in your mind, or to a former experience in your life? This is one of the quickest ways to make your self feel bad.
To switch it around, try to notice every time a self-judging thought arises in your mind. Instead of grabbing onto it for the ride, let it pass by. Self-judgment is just another thought that comes out of nowhere and disappears into the big blue sky – unless you feed it and keep it alive.
Wouldn’t you rather let it slide by? You might not be able to catch that inner critic each and every time, but with a little focus slowly you’ll successfully diminish the self-judging mind.
- Remember the goodness
Begin or end each day by counting your blessings. If you have food and a place to sleep, that’s a good start. If you have one friend, you’re on a positive track. Chances are, you have much more than that!
By regularly acknowledging the goodness in your life, you will slowly retrain your brain so contentment becomes its status quo.
This is also an effective tactic to apply any moment dissatisfaction jumps up in your mind. Don’t fan the flames; instead counter discontent by appreciating the goodness in your life.
- Stay in the moment
A huge chunk of suffering comes from anticipating the future or having regrets about the past. Instead of ruminating on thoughts in your head, open your senses and enjoy the richness that surrounds you at every turn.
It might be a gentle breeze on a scorching summer day or children playing unabashedly with the zest of life. Just think, you might not have even noticed if you are all wrapped up in your head!
- Give the benefit of the doubt
When people give you a hard time, don’t let it get under your skin. After all, we’re all human – no one is without faults. If you choose to see the good in others instead of haranguing about their weaknesses, you will always have greater peace of mind.
- Look for the lesson
Life flows in cycles and difficult times will occur. Inner contentment doesn’t mean sadness, worry, or anger will never appear. But, if you commit to looking for the lesson in each challenge that comes your way, you’ll change and grow with less angst and distress to pay.
I’ll be honest. Although creating more contentment is simple, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. That’s because you’re up against a backlog of habitual patterning that has kept you stuck in those unhelpful grooves.
But, don’t lose heart! When old habits try to hold you back, just flash them a big smile fully confident that true contentment abides within.
A dose of humor also eases the noose of tired old ways. Just keep going with these tips, and with every small win, you’ll find your sense of contentment growing day by day.