Contentment.
That's an elusive word, is it not?

The whole world seems to be ever in a state of Unrest.
Some people are not happy, no matter what happens in their lives.
Others seem to be able to float along, no matter where the River of Life carries them.

What is the difference?

I think it relates to how you handle your current state of Being.


First, a disclaimer:  this is inspired but not only my recent spiritual readings/journey, but also the words of an elderly woman who preached an incredible sermon at my local church recently.    I believe she was the living personification of wisdom, and that her words have never been more timely in my life.   In some places, I am paraphrasing her sermon.    Name is withheld for privacy.

Essentially, she stated that in order to learn to live in a state of Contentment; one first must ask:
What state am I currently living in?

Is it one of sadness?
(to clarify: clinical depression is an entirely different "state", than simply being sad.  I realize that the process is completely different than what is discussed in this post.)

Grief?
Anger?
Bitterness or Resentment?
Frustration?
Joy?

Whichever state is your present state: you must acknowledge it.  Feel it.  Before you can ever learn to be Content within it.

All you truly have is the present moment.  You cannot change the past, and you cannot predict the future.    What is happening Now: is all you've got.   Looking back, or forward means you are not living in that Current State of Being.
Why do we reject our current states, or try to make them More than what they really are about?

So how can you deal with it? 

That relates to her second point, which concerns our human nature to Covet.

That's another word that is not so elusive; but rather what we covet, what we yearn for ... is.

The Chase.   Oh, we love the chase of  Things.
But the truth of the matter is, it's a never ending chase, and it steals our Peace.


I loved this quote so much, I recently had it mounted on canvas and displayed in my living room as a constant reminder to stop this continual chase of coveting.

Since intellectually we know we cannot take all that STUFF with us, why do we keep amassing it?
What is this need within us, to keep Filling Up?   As though we could actually plug the holes of our grief, or sadness, or anger with something simply tangible?

Does it make sense that in pursuing, almost to the point of killing ourselves, tangible things; that it would ever lead to obtaining the Intangible --- such as peace of mind?
How can one beget the other?


I was asked by one of my favourite bloggers, Eli  - the one and only  Coach over at Coach Daddy, what had started me on this journey.    I replied in a rather lengthy manner, but I will sum up here:

Basically, I noticed a lot of complaining creeping into our lives – but it’s all small things; you know?   we don’t suffer any real hardships in our lives.  we have healthy bodies, we have a nice roof over our heads – maybe nothing fancy, but by no means a shack.   we have good food in our bellies, and as tight as money can be some times on one salary: we know nothing about starvation.   Yet, there will be a 5th level def con meltdown in this house because we ran out of ketchup, or fruit chews.  



The WANTING never seemed to end.    There was always something more to buy, or achieve.    And I just asked myself one day:  “God, are we ever going to be happy, or content with what our current state of being, IS?   What is it in us that always looks beyond?  Why can’t we just be NOW?  What are we sooooo thirsty for?”



We fill our lives up with so much Stuff --- but it never seems to fill in all those tiny spaces.   We are always left wanting; and a big part of that, is of course this obsession with materialism in our world:  the pursuit of Things.


I hate things.   I  hate them cluttering up my house, and my mind. It’s busy enough in there.  A purge was necessary; internally and externally. 

I think about that butterfly in the image above.   It does not worry about things, but simply flies about its business.   I chased it for quite some time to capture that image.  You can chase a butterfly for miles, but when you finally catch it, it will not actually turn into something else.   Just enjoy the beauty of what it is - in that moment.   See the wonder of its dance upon the wind.

Her third point was about this World:  it is an angry, violent one that is carrying injuries so ancient.... it's a wonder we are still able to walk under their mounting weight.

The world has not let go either.  And we inherit that burden.   We cry out in frustration:  why is the world so BAD?!!!

That's the wrong question.   You cannot change the past, or predict the future.

The correct question is:  What can I do to make the world better?
That is living in a state of Now.

We can get stuck in this notion that Time Changes Things.
Actually, no.   DOING SOMETHING changes things.
And you must let go of your own negativity, worry less about what is wrong, and enter your own state of calm content, before any action can occur. 


Easier said than done, right?

So, how?

It's really all about Gifts.

We must learn to accept what comes into our lives, as the Gift it is.    I know, I know: terrible things happen!!!    Heart breaking tragedies that are capable of bringing us to our knees.   Betrayals so sudden and cruel we can hardly breath due to the crushing pain in our hearts.

It's okay!!
Drop to your knees!!   Cry all those tears.   Be angry!  It's okay to feel those things.   Don't listen to those people who tell you to "get over it."   You don't have to unpack a bag and stay there; but you will get over it one day:  when you are ready to move on.  

Whether events bring joy, happiness, success, or struggles, pain and tragedy; it all leads to Growth.   Trouble often paves the way for Faith and Hope to blossom.   Walking through the bad in life quietly - with Grace:  I think we are more likely to come out the other side in a "richer" state of being.

We must recognize the gifts that Life gives to us.



Another important question we must ask:  Who Walks Beside You?

Good company matters!
It's not the things we acquire, but the relationships we nurture.    We cannot depend on them to make us happy; but they sure can make the journey more enjoyable.

Surround yourself with bitter, negative company?   I think I can guess what your current state of being might be.     And the people we choose in our lives, can either keeps us stuck in a rut, or help us by encouraging our growth.

A movie I saw recently summed the idea beautifully:

Narrator:   So the story goes: The guy falls in love with a girl the second he meets her, but it takes them a lifetime to get it together.  When they do they end up on a boat, and they realise the only way they can stay together is to never go ashore.  So they raise the yellow colour flag so no port would take them and they drift out to sea 'til the end.  And it makes you realize there are people in your life so important that they dwarf everything else.  It's up to you to figure out who they are.  If you have to give up everything else and spend the rest of your days on a boat, who are the must haves, the ones you can't live without?  Figure out your own list and then do everything you can to let them know how much they mean to you.
           ~ Playing it Cool, 2014

We will be survived by the people that matter most; the relationships we built -- not by the Things we acquired, or the Success we obtained.

So I ask you:

What state are you living in?
What do you covet? 
What gifts have you been given?
Who is in your boat?

All important questions that can help you handle your Now.
Life unfolds in the Present, and so often, we let that slip away in the pursuit of something more tangible.   Let go of that distraction reflex, and simply Be.   Breathe. 

Sure it's easy to be Present when our current state is one of happiness.   the reality is no life will be perfect.  This world will never be perfect.   When we move towards the difficult moments; we may just find, they too are worth being present for.

To make the most of our moments, we must accept what they are, and stop comparing them to what once was, or what could have been, or what is yet/might be to come.    Only then can we let go of all those "what ifs", and focus instead on "what is."

Otherwise, I think we are in danger of living a life that is most limiting.
And given the choice, would we not all choose instead a Life of Possibility?

Now that is something I definitely covet.
I am certain I could be content with that kind of life.

Those who face that which is actually before them, unburdened by the past, undistracted by the future, these are they who live, who make the best use of their lives; these are those who have found the secret of contentment.
 ~ Alban Goodier