“Who seeks more than he needs, hinders himself from enjoying what he has. Seek what you need and give up what you need not. For in giving up what you don’t need, you’ll learn what you really do need.”
Solomon ibn Gabirol, circa 1050 AD
The Christmas season is a time of contrast, a time to reflect on things spiritual all the while surrounded by commercialism and excess. As time marches onward I find myself measuring success less by possessions and money and more by peace of mind and contentment.
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary contentment is defined as “a state of happiness and satisfaction.”
Preconditions and Barriers to Contentment
It’s generally accepted that contentment can’t be bought but this doesn’t stop those that sell us our wants and desires from trying to convince us otherwise. They would have us believe that we require a certain kind of car, clothes, hairstyle, food, beer, prescription or gadget in order to be content. This advertizing propaganda creates in our minds artificial preconditions to contentment but it’s not just clever marketing that creates illusionary barriers, we can do a fine job of it ourselves; tasks must be completed, goals met, or some event passed before contentment is allowed. Often we resist contentment and should we find it creeping in we’ll search the past, or seek out an excuse in the future, to hinder contentment in present. Other times, so strong is the belief that external preconditions must be satisfied, contentment in the here and now is dismissed as impossible.
What are your barriers to contentment, are they real or self-imposed?
Conquer Anxiety and Frustration
Conquer Anxiety and Frustration is the title of a little booklet by Vernon Howard. I’ve found Vernon’s ideas enlightening but that’s not to say you need his booklet to achieve contentment. That would be imposing preconditions and that’s not right! Instead you can read it here if you like. A few of the things I’ve found helpful:
- “A feeling of frustration arises when unnecessary desires are blocked. Frustration occurs when we want something we don’t need to want.” Why do we want what we don’t need? To satisfy a false sense of self or ego?
- “You don’t have to be someone.” Far better to be genuine.
- Seek truth.
- “Do not give value to the object of your thinking, but try to understand why you give value to it. A great secret will be revealed.”
- Learn to say good-bye. “You fear to say farewell to fearful thoughts because you don’t know what will replace them, you fear the forthcoming empty space.” Embrace the empty space
Grand Master of Contentment
Eat when hungry, sleep when tired, and happiness is a warm place to nap in the sun. I doubt very much that the cat worries about yesterday, tomorrow, or what dogs think. I’m also pretty certain the cat doesn’t manufacture any pre-conditions.
Enough is contentment in the here and now.
“We tend to forget happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing what we do have”