A prescription for contentment

What is Contentment ?

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.A content person is independent of the circumstances. However our consumer culture with its omnipresent advertising pitches is designed to make us always want something more, better , which makes It harder to achieve contentment .Happiness, on the other hand, is volatile. Happiness is about desiring more, even if you’ve already achieved a lot, and because of that, it is always short-lived. Still, it is also a more intense kind of joy. In short, then, the difference between happiness and contentment is that happiness is intense, volatile and short-lived, whereas contentment is mild, constant and, possibly, ever-lasting.

Finding the balance

Ambition and contentment are key values for your success and happiness. They are factors you’ll use to make decisions and take actions. Ambition without contentment can create over-zealousnes and in some cases Greed , For example Hitler’s decision to invade Russia was a clear instance of greed. He had conquered most of Europe and there is a good chance he could have consolidated his areas and defended them against Great Britain and the United States effectively if he didn’t have to fight WWII on two fronts.  His greed led to his ultimate defeat.Hitler had no contentment in this specific case

Contentment without ambition can result in apathy or laziness. Diogense is the ultimate example of it , He lived, by choice, in an empty wine barrel that he would roll from place to place. He gave away his begging bowl because, inspired by dogs drinking peacefully at the river, he realized that he could also drink from the river using only his hands when Alexander the Great visited Corinth it was the first time he ever went out of his way to visit someone who had nothing. He walked down to the river with his entourage to find Diogenes naked, lying peacefully in the sun. Alexander the great conqueror said, “Ask me any favor, and I will grant it,” to which Diogenes replied, “Stand a little less between me and the sun. Don’t take away from me what you cannot give.” He said also this famous quote “People have the most, when they are most content with the least.” Diogense had no ambition at all. So You need balanced doses of both of Ambition and Contentment

Contentment in various beliefs

In Judaism “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.” Mivhar Hapeninim 155,161 as found in The Jewish Moral Virtues, Borowitz and Schwartz, p.164

In Christianity ” Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you ” Hebrews 13:5 in the Holy Bible

In Islam true contentment is achieved through establishing a relationship with Allah, always keeping Him in mind. The Quran states:
“Truly, it is in the remembrance of Allah(God) that hearts can find contentment” Quran – Surah Ar-Ra’d verse (28) This verse reveals that the more the people gain the trivial goods of this life, the greater becomes the hunger and the consequent burning of their heart. But as for those who seek God, the more they turn to Him, the greater is their peace of mind. This means that a search for the divine or a supreme Deity is inherent within human nature and the innermost yearning of a human being. The real and ultimate goal of a person’s life.

In a well known Hadith (saying of the prophet Muhammad) the prophet said “If the son of Adam (the human being) were given a valley full of riches, he would love to have a second one; and if he were given the second one, he would love to have a third, for nothing satisfies the belly of Adam’s son except dust (of the grave). And Allah forgives he who repents (turns) to Him.” Saheeh Bukhari-Vol 8:book76

How can you practice contentment? Here are some simple ways.

Want what you have. This is a basic gratitude practice. Don’t take your possessions for granted. Every day acknowledge what just one tool or object means to you and how it improves your life. Make a list of other things you are grateful for at the end of the day

Don’t make comparisons. Many of us go through the day comparing our situation with another’s, and inevitably, it seems, we come up short, feeling either second-rate or deprived. The Baal Shem Tov, a great Jewish teacher, said, “Compare not yourself with anyone else, lest you spoil God’s curriculum.” Focus instead on what is unique about you — your God-given talents and gifts. Then whenever you fall into the comparisons trap, say to yourself, “Oh, there I go again, making silly comparisons.”

Accept your imperfections and the “lacks” in your life. Nobody is perfect, and few people get everything they want or even all they need. But we have been assured that none of this matters to God. God loves us as we are, faults and shortcomings included

Appreciate the little things. Be thankful for the air you breathe, the food that nourishes you, the quiet home you live in, the sunshine that brightens up your day. Every little detail in your life counts. Focus on those little things and be thankful that you are still alive

How thinking of death makes us more Contented

Irvin D. Yalom M.D a noted psychiatrist interested in the interplay between Spirituality and psychology, has done extensive work with cancer patients and their families. He found that the monumental shock of such a diagnosis results in far-reaching changes in the patient’s life, including:

A rearrangement of life’s priorities: what is trivial emerges as such, and can be ignored.
A sense of liberation: being able to choose not to do those things you do not wish to do.
An enhanced sense of living in the immediate present, rather than postponing life until some point in the future.
A vivid appreciation of the elemental facts of life: the changing seasons, the wind, falling leaves, the last Christmas, and so forth.
Deeper communication with loved ones than before the crisis.Fewer interpersonal fears, less concern about rejection,
Greater willingness to take risks than before the crisis.

Confronting the idea of death makes us live more fully in the present. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring; we only have this day, this moment. When we are fully present in the moment, not thinking about the future, we’re less likely to plague ourselves with the “what ifs” of life. Which ultimately makes us Contented with life







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