So many of us move through life at a pace that we ourselves can barely keep up with. We focus on our desires or next steps – and lose sight of what is actually here right now. When we live our lives this way, contentment becomes an unattainable goal: a receding finish line… that we keep on chasing.
A Welcome Perspective Shift
Once while sitting down with my mentor, she asked a fairly profound question: ‘What do you want from your life?’
I considered this for a moment, before answering with:
- I want to feel connected to my loved ones.
- To feel that I’m in alignment with my soul path and purpose.
- To have abundance and prosperity, whatever shape and form that may take.
She looked at me carefully, before gently asking another question. ‘What if you already have all of those things?’
I stared at her blankly. She continued.
“Do you feel connected to your loved ones?”
I thought of my family and friends, and my heart ached with love. “Yes.”
“Sitting here, talking to me, are you not already on your soul path?”
“And do you feel abundance and prosperity in your life?”
I looked around the sunny, golden room in Bondi, Sydney. I smelt the beautiful incense and sank into the comfort of the couch I was on. “Yes.”
“Then don’t you already have all you want?”
This simple conversation changed my life. It caused an immediate perspective shift where I began to recognise that I am already content with my life, as it is.
I left behind the pursuit of contentment and came to recognise that contentment can be a fixed state, which moves alongside us and simply changes shape, in accordance with our ever-shifting circumstances and desires.
This seemingly small perspective shift has the capacity to bring peace, balance and happiness into our lives. So today we ask you the question: can you hit pause and sink into recognising and enjoying what you already have?
Goal setting may seem like a contradiction to the above ideas, but they actually co-exist quite nicely. If our sense of contentment is dependent on attaining all of our desires, because these desires will never cease, it is impossible to achieve contentment. So, by simply recognising that we could never meet this arbitrary finish line, we can stop seeking contentment in the future, and rather enjoy where we are.
This doesn’t stop us from setting goals. It won’t make us passive, lazy or apathetic – it actually enables us to enjoy all aspects of life’s processes. Framed another way, contentment isn’t a matter of never trying to improve our situation. It’s a matter of being content with what we have — whilst recognising that as humans, we are wired to seek improvements, regardless of how happy we are. This trait fuels our evolutionary process. If we didn’t have it, we couldn’t have come as far as we have today.
We suffer when we believe in the validity of a false our reality, that contradicts our own. This clearly seen within ‘should’ thinking. For example, if we are unhappy, it’s the thought ‘I should be happy,’ which really causes our pain. This can easily be remedied by embracing the idea that nothing can go ‘wrong,’ and everything happens as it should. It’s in no way helpful to mentally argue with how things have turned out. A more productive use of our energy is to switch our focus, by embracing the here and now.
So, if contentment is the key… where to start? We’ve compiled a few ideas for you.
- Count your blessings. Notice the things or people that you’re thankful for each day. Feeling gratitude dissolves our polarities of fear and need, because gratitude perfectly expresses the natural abundance that is already ours.
- Find pleasure in the simple things. Take delight in the precious, simple moments of your life. This means things like conversations with loved ones, sunny days, or the pleasure in moving your body. Even household errands like washing the dishes can be done with loving mindfulness! These aspects of our lives don’t cost anything, yet they shower our lives with happiness.
- Notice your consumption. With our modern consumption culture, it can become all too easy to take things for granted. Try and increase your awareness surrounding your purchases, almost as though you were a child with pocket money! Not only will this stop unnecessary consumption (a wonderful gift for the environment), you’ll save some money, and gain a heightened sensitivity towards everything you do receive.
- Journal. Journaling (or creating video diaries) allows us to slow life down and pay closer attention to the chapters of our lives. This practice is a wonderful way to increase our introspection and awareness of the threads of synchronicity and depth present in all of our lives, when we take the time to notice.
If this article resonated with you… why not dive into peace, mindfulness and nature for a few days by experiencing our Inner Joy retreat? We would LOVE to be a part of your contentment journey.
Nisha is a freelance writer and Vedic astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her candle business, her life and loves involve: yoga, gardening and all things esoteric. You’ll find her out in nature, or curled up at home with a good book. Happy Buddha is one of her most treasured places on earth (and indeed where she met her fiancé!).