We all get shocked when we hear about affluent and successful people committing suicide due to depression. Isn’t it ironical that, on one hand, so-called poor and ordinary people sell their jewellery, house, land, and even their organs to continue living and, on the other, so-called celebrities with loads of money and fame live in depression and, at times, even take the extreme decision to commit suicide? Why is it that such talented, committed, physically fit, and rich people go through these feelings of aloneness (despite having millions of fans, family, friends), anxieties, and depression? The feeling of discontentment can be one of the major reasons, I guess.
I saw a YouTube video in which the speaker was emphasising on the importance of commitment and not getting trapped in the contentment zone. Although the explanations were quite motivating, I think they were incomplete and can be misunderstood, which may lead to ugly consequences. Does contentment stop you from making efforts and progress? Or can lack of contentment drive you so crazy that you live miserably despite all possessions and positions? I think we need to look at this discontentment more deeply.
I am sure we all have those moments where we feel totally restless and upset with life. Sometimes, these thoughts and feelings go away quickly, but other times, it gets to the point where you feel unfulfilled with your life for weeks, months, and maybe, even years. If it becomes a chronic feeling, then we need to look at it carefully. Answer the following questions:
• Do you get hurt easily?
• Do you get angry quite often and easily?
• Do you judge others constantly? Do you also feel that you are being judged?
• Do you judge yourself frequently?
• Are you suspicious of other’s motives all the time?
• Do you become restless and irritated easily?
• Do you consider yourself to be a selfish or self-obsessed person?
• Do you constantly find something lacking in your life?
If the answer to most of the questions above is ‘yes,’ I am afraid you are suffering from discontentment, and I suggest you continue reading the rest of the article.
Most of us are in pursuit of happiness, isn’t it? The purpose of anything and everything we do or don’t do is to attain happiness. Still, happiness seems to be an ever-elusive target. We hardly ever see people constantly happy. Life keeps throwing different challenges at us, and we get off balance.
Many see ‘contentedness’ and ‘happiness’ as one and the same. In many ways, they are. CONTENTMENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF HAPPINESS.
What is contentment?
Contentment is a state of being peaceful and thankful for what you have and where you are in life. It involves acknowledging and appreciating the small pleasures of life and living with faith. It is a non-complaining or non-cribbing state. Living with faith does not mean living idle. I shall explain it later. Of course, I am not saying you should simply settle for a life that doesn’t bring you joy. CONTENTMENT DOES NOT MEAN NOT BEING GOAL-DRIVEN.
To be a goal-driven person does not mean that you are discontent with life. You can be extremely content with life, with what you have, and with who you are. You accept yourself fully, and still, you can strive for goals and enjoy a challenge, and at the same time, enjoy each moment of the journey with contentment. So, you should continue to dream, set targets, and work sincerely. But just remember to be thankful and enjoy the journey of making it happen.
The strange thing about contentment is that it’s possible to feel fulfilled inside, yet have outer struggle at the same time. That’s because contentment celebrates the good in your life while simultaneously working through the goals. Whereas happiness may come and go, being content is something you can continually maintain. In the contended state, you become more productive, and hence the chances of you achieving better results are higher. However, in a contented state, achievement or failure may not have a huge impact on our happiness.
How to attain a state of contentment?
Well, that is the biggest question. It comes with a lot of effort, practice, persistence, and grace. Let me suggest a few steps which might help you get there:
Clarify your values and live by them
Values are our principles which we believe in, our lighthouse which helps in our decision-making. Violation of our values makes us discontented. Therefore, one must check their values. We get to know our values when they are respected or violated. Values are essentially what we care about most in life. They motivate us, give us energy and a sense of fulfilment, and calm us down. When your actions and thoughts are in congruence with your values, you can live authentically. Being your authentic self is ultimately going to provide you with a greater sense of contentment.
Accept yourself and your past
Have you not seen people discontented with their height, complexion, education, parents, and past events? What is the use of all this? It’s good to work on things to make them better, but being sore and resentful about the past doesn’t benefit your future. Being dissatisfied with the present is okay, but we must not become discontented with ourselves and our past. Learn to accept and appreciate the past. Let’s not crib or complain about something which can neither be changed nor can be worked upon. But maybe we can do something about the future in the present. Let’s do that in a contented state.
Accept yourself totally with your gifts, talents, abilities, and limitations too. A content person pursues goals with patience, peace, and acceptance. Remember to also focus on what you have.
No individual on this planet has everything. We all feel that something is lacking in our lives, isn’t it? But similarly, there is no one who does not have anything. The problem with discontent people is that they focus too much on what they lack, and forget what they have. Always remember your starting point in life, then look at the milestones you have achieved. My suggestion would be to maintain a ‘Thank You’ journal and, every day, make a note of the ‘thank you’ moments and the names of people and events which made your day.
Focus on enhancing your strength
We spend a lot of our lives trying to change what we don’t like about ourselves. If we aren’t changing it, we’re complaining about it. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I am all for working on our weaknesses, but one must not forget the strengths and must enhance them regularly. We can improve our weak areas for sure, but we can excel in our strength areas. It’s difficult to change the mentality that we have to be good at everything, but the reality is that everyone will have their weaknesses. Therefore, must we focus on what we are not good at? It can be so much more beneficial and productive to continue developing our current strengths. Remember, there will never be a day when you will have no weaknesses, but your strengths, when utilised properly, can compensate for the weaknesses too. Be content with certain deficiencies in some skills, knowledge, or some part of life. It is never absolute for anyone. Accept it and move on.
Being intensely involved with detachment
As per Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, a content person remains 100 per cent involved in activities but is detached from the results. In a contented state, you don’t bother much about the results, as your actions originate out of choice and not compulsions. I am sure most of us must have experienced that when we are feeling great, we will do something great. But that activity was not the purpose but a mere consequence of that positive and productive state. Similarly, a contented state propels a person to focus on efforts without getting bothered or bogged down by results. What a blissful state that is! People with faith will generally attain this contented state easily as they do not operate out of their egos (identities). They play their part (role) with 100 per cent dedication and sincerity, but once the scene is over, they don’t remain in the role; they come back to their natural self. That is the reason such people can live peacefully and are productive too. They don’t get identified with their position and possessions. Contentment means stability of mind.
A content person can easily be recognised by their non-judgmental attitude, soft-spoken disposition, gentle smile, forgiving nature, and humility. However, this contented state needs to be maintained daily until it becomes your nature. Be content with your past and make efforts in the present without worrying about the results.
“To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more; it means you are thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come.”—Tony Gaskins
Suresh Mohan Semwal
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