Learning the Art of Contentment
Life brings each individual an array of beautiful opportunities to dream big, pursue our long and short term goals, and just “carpe diem!” (which is Latin for “seize the day”). Yet, we all know that life isn’t just rainbows, butterflies and sugar-pies! So when we’re not kicking goals and feel bound by unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances that are beyond our control; we must remember that our response is everything.
A famous man, who, during the Roman Empire was imprisoned and bound in chains for sharing what he deemed to be “good news”, once wrote a letter to encourage his fellow friends and family on how to learn the art of being content no matter the circumstances, he wrote:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I’m already discontent, let alone being locked up in prison during the Roman Rule where they would be entertained by death in the colosseum - just think Julias Caesar! The dictionary definition of contentment is an emotional state of satisfaction that can be seen as a mental state and can be drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.
How do we learn this secret of contentment?
A good place to start is by coming into a place of acceptance of your given situation (take a few deep breaths as you do this). This may not be a swift move, it may take time, yet the sooner you can accept your circumstances, the sooner you will be able to navigate your response.
Considering that it is an emotional state, we need to examine the very components of our psyche (and by that I mean your mind, soul, spirit) and examine the behaviour that follows. In general, humans desire to find a sense of happiness and purpose in all facets of our lives.
Where do these desires of contentment come from?
sense of belonging
owning a home
All these desires are good, but what would happen if these things were taken away in the blink of an eye? Would your response then become grief? Loss? Anger? Depression? Ego depletion? Would you become angry at every other homeowner?
Now I’m not saying these responses are bad, in fact, they’re very valid, I just want you to think outside the comforts of the physical things we attain for our contentment and search a little deeper to understand that it must come from the origins of our spirit. We need our spirit to be anchored in something greater, constant and beyond the physical when the storm hits. If our contentment is an emotional state, then the threads of how we cope must weave into knowing our spirit has the power to change every situation.
For me, my Spirit is anchored in a God who never changes and is always working everything together into something beautiful, especially the things that matter most. I know that when life turns upside down and the physical things may get taken away or break down, I can count on my response of trusting that my spirit is secure in a loving God who will never leave. Life will be up and down...that’s a given. So learning to be content no matter where we are on our path is an exercise to practice. Let me ask you, are all of your securities found in things that can be shaken and taken away?