Find Contentment and Feel Happy More Often.
We often equate contentment with happiness. But Contentment is even better then happiness. When we are content, we are happy more often. When we are content, we are less bothered by small events and trivialities.
Being content is having satisfaction with what you have and desire. Contentment does not mean stagnation. Contentment is a state of being. You can be very active and ambitious and still find contentment… or you can have few possessions and spend your time gardening and be content. However, regardless of what you desire, you will rarely find contentment anywhere else but in the present moment.
That is not to say that contentment is not connected to our external world. There are actions we can take, as well as habit we can do without, that will boost our contentment.
Like the Relative Path, contentment will be different for each person. The gardener and the artist take very different action yet both can still find contentment. Having a trade usually boosts contentment.
If contentment is relative, then this leads us to a rather large mystery…
What will bring ME contentment?
If you frequently feel unhappy, you have yet to discover what will make you content.
While every person is different, some tasks and activities commonly bring contentment. Some people may like to focus, while others may like to stay busy and do several.
Growth: Change in a positive direction overtime. Personal development can be immensely satisfying. Find a skill, trait, or project that you want to work on and start heading in that direction. Learn what you need to along the way, practice and apply.
Leadership: Leading others towards a common end. Volunteer for leadership experience at work or at school. Taking responsibility over a group of people and a project, while difficult, can be very satisfying. Plus, you will walk away with experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
Enterprise: Being a part of something bigger. Finding an already established group or company and rallying with them on a common cause can bring satisfaction. It can be for profit, or it can be non-profit. Be sure to review the values, and then embody the values in yourself as you work toward your common goal.
Arts: Expression of creative skill and imagination. Expression is creation. When we create we generate things that were never in the world before. Even when we paint a vase of flowers, we are creating. Creation is a great source of long term contentment.
Trade: A special skill set. Having a special skill set helps one feel like they are contributing. IT could be in conjunction with an art, like sculpting, or the trade could be repair, or expertise. Gardening, whittling, knitting are a trade, as well as electrician, computer programming, and pickling.
Altruism: Service to humanity. Performing community service, running for public office, helping people out unprompted… or just a kind word on a gloomy day. When we help others we fill fulfilled in ways that simply working cannot.
Exercise and Physical Feats: Maintaining a certainly level of fitness can help maintain contentment. When we work on ourselves, we know we are making a good investment. When we outperform most people in physical feats, some people can find contentment, although long term fulfillment will be found in outdoing ourselves rather than others.
Connecting: Spending time connecting with humans and animals. Having a chat isn’t necessarily the high level connecting that will be fulfilling. We are looking for emotionally deeper activities, like doing an activity together or talking about deep and important topics. With animals… Think like the animal and be like the animal.
Time in Nature: Out of the city and among the plants. Spend time being mindful and listen to the wind, focus on the scents in the air, and the beauty of the landscape.
Mindfulness: When we focus on the task at hand rather then other things, we will usually find those tasks more fulfilling. Fill your minds with what is happening in the moment. If you are in a park, you are focused on the sound of the wind, the motion of the plants, the flight pattern of the birds. Even sitting on a bench, you can find yourself contentment by intentionally finding joy in the simplest of things.
Meditation: Sit. 20 minutes, or an hour. Clear your mind. Then clear it more. Allow thoughts to come, and leave. When there are no thoughts, you are not concerned.
Some people will find great contentment in performing one specific activity, while others will find contentment in variety. Some skills, like mindfulness and meditation, will help us find contentment in all the other activities for they help us live in the moment. If you are pickling cucumbers but are thinking about taking a hike, you are doing neither.
Each person is unique on their Relative Path, so spend time exploring a lot of different activities to discover what will bring you contentment.