contentment


I am grateful for contentment. It's kind of old fashioned, I know. I don't hear it espoused or discussed much, but I have a hunch that understanding it more deeply could be helpful. 

The way I experience it, contentment is more than 'satisfaction with the current status', which is the classic dictionary insight. For me contentment is infused with peace and joy. It does not disqualify ambition for 'better', but is a state of living that enables intention without compulsion.

One of the enablers of contentment is integrity; by which I mean a consistency between the image I project of who I am, and the reality of who I am when no one is watching. For me, when this gap widens I physically feel my content-o-metre decline. It is also about the gap between the world I desire and the world I experience. 

As I write, people all around the world are putting their bodies on the line to draw attention to the chasm between what we know needs to be done to address catastrophic climate change and the political will to do it. Fair enough. I do not mean to imply that contentment means passivity and inactivity, and indeed at times, anger is a thoroughly appropriate response. But I do know that the manner in which people engage efforts to positively change the (external) world looks very different when done from a posture of inner world contentment. 

I am not naive enough to believe that contentment is facilitated by the same things for everyone, but I know that for me, limiting the noise from masses of information streams (yes, I'm talking about social media, conventional media and busyness) is critical. I also know that there is an intangible re-calibration that happens when I'm unhurriedly in the natural environment.

There's probably something in there too about not being addicted to changing things, being committed to eliminating compulsive buying, or 'updating or upgrading' when there is nothing wrong with the current. But then what is the symptom and what is the underlying pathology?

Love. Heck, how significant is it knowing there are people in my life that accept and love me for who I currently am, warts and all. I can't imagine, as most of you can't either, what life looks and feels like without that. And some of us are struggling to experience contentment for this precise reason - there is a love gap. I feel for you - deeply.

So I don't claim to understand contentment very well. It's one of those things that we know when we've got it, and we know when we don't. Frustratingly, the reason for it's absence and the way to regain it, are often elusive.  I'm keen to understand more about it. Please share your insights.

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currently reading

Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles
Sand Talk
Radical Wholeness: The Embodied Present and the Ordinary Grace of Being
A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries--A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change