My dictionary offers a definition of content as having or showing no desire for something more or different. Hmm…Is that an accurate enough definition? I say no.
How content do you feel right now? How contented would you say most of the people you know are right now? How many truly contented people do you know? Maybe it takes more than one hand for you to count them on, but possibly not. So, the next question would have to be: what’s up with that; why is true contentment as rare as it is? To be contented is never to be confused with or mistaken as being resigned (reconciled) or acquiescent, which means to consent quietly without protest and without enthusiasm. So, what does it or might it mean to be content?
G. K. Chesterson wrote: “True contentment is a real, even an active, virtue—not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it, it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a situation.” I think it’s safe to say that Chesterson would agree with me about the dictionary definition: it doesn’t go far enough, because you can certainly be content and still desire, go for, and attain improvement simultaneously.
Contentment is a form of appreciation. Appreciation is the most “attractive” or magnetic energy you can emit to the Universe’s Reflected Back to You Manifestation Center. (“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.”) One reason contentment is so rare is that we are bombarded with messages from all directions about what we should be, do, and have. Consider commercials: what is the main message of many if not most of them? “If you don’t have this, look like this, have access to this”—whatever “this” is they want to sell you on, “then you’re less than WE, and anyone else who goes along with us, think you should be; and you should believe you’re less too.” Yes, “they” sell a number of products and services that do benefit us and or meet a specific need, but what they mostly hook us into buying whatever they’re selling with, or longing to do so or be able to, is…envy.
If we use Chesterson’s attic premise, you can certainly want and choose to live elsewhere, but you don’t have to choose to be miserable until you move. It’s the same for anything. And, no amount of envy of what others have will provide a remedy, just more misery. The envy “they” (and “they” are a large and varied group) want you to buy into can lead to avarice, another form of misery; and “they” pretty it up by calling it economic opportunity: There’s a difference. “Flashy things” can be quite nice, but if you crave them because you believe you’ll feel you’re more or somehow whole once you have them, you affirm lack—not just of stuff but in Self; and that is the energy you emit and therefore attract with. If you chase flashy things for the same reason, you take detours from your true path. If the absence of them or even the having of them torments you in any way, your contentment is being stolen from you—by you.
How much is really enough for you? Who defines this for you? If it isn’t you and only you defining this, someone else is driving your life and contentment bus. I’m not saying no one needs a mansion, but how much house do most people really need? Who do they need it for? I’m not picking on houses—they are just an easy reference for this purpose. This applies to anything and everything that we convince ourselves that we need in order to be content, when we really don’t need it, especially if having it creates headaches rather than true contentment. What’s often happening in such situations is we want to end the discontent our envy causes in us; and for some, create envy in others about what we have—because we are not content within ourselves with ourselves. Contentment, like happiness, is an inner job and choice.
Contentment based in appreciation is a creative energy. Getting what’s there for you out of any circumstance you’re in takes creativity. If you’re bored with your life or bored in any particular moment, you are not contented, nor are you exercising your inherent creativity. And if you go in the opposite direction of contentment, you may find yourself in Greedland, or even Slothland—the land of the idle who complain but make no creative effort to create positive shift. Slothland is not the same as having moments or periods of repose, when you repossess any mental, physical, or emotional energy you’ve expended, in order to rebalance peace of mind and inner harmony, or recharge your inner batteries or heal.
Contentment leads to kindness and allows us to maximize moments and experiences because true contentment does not entertain envy. It understands that if something is truly needed or desired, there are creative, constructive, productive ways to accomplish or attain whatever is desired, from both the inner and outer levels. Contentment understands that mutually-beneficial is always and evermore a better, more desirable path and result; whereas envy is about one-upmanship, an ultimately lonely, usually frustrating road to travel or destination to stay in, even if there are others around you in that “club.” Admiration inspires, ignites, and creates; envy destroys and depletes.
I think true contentment feels like this favorite affirmation of mine: It’s not about what you can get from the flow, but that you get into the flow. (I get a delicious shiver every time I feel the Truth of that statement.) True contentment reflects the relationship we have with ourselves and especially with Source. It reflects the trust we have in ourselves and the One Source of all our strength, support, and supply as well as what that union can produce. Inner peace and serenity based on this trust is true contentment, no matter what is going on or isn’t in a moment in time.
We can be content and continue to create and improve as we go; we can be content with and while in this process. In this way, contentment is the secret sauce that makes life like a meal offered in courses, where each course is given the time and attention to be savored. Contentment born out of genuine appreciation adds flavor, texture, and richness to our life experience. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer
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Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com