‘He who is contented is rich.’ ~Lao Tzu
I have had periods of Buddhist monastic training over the last 12 or so years. What I came to appreciate during those beautiful times was the contentment achievable with very little in life.
The monks receive a meal, clothing (2 robes to limit the procrastination over choice), and shelter.
Reflecting on what I witnessed I detected a deep sense of contentment with less.
No one was trying to get the best robes, the best shelter with the best view or the best food.
They are working with a simplified life so they can focus their time and energy on more important things in life.
This realisation was very important for me during my stays. Being someone brought up in a society where the term contentment can somewhat be despised I found this very freeing and refreshing.
In our Western cultures there is an underlying assumption that being content is like having no ambition or drive in life.
Alternatively, to be discontent is a sign we are not happy. We want more! We will not settle for anything other than the best we can get.
But here’s the thing!
Real contentment isn’t a matter of being happy with what you have or your position in life and never trying to progress.
It’s a matter of being content with what you physically have. Appreciating that as humans, we will always endeavour to learn and grow as people. If we don’t, we have basically given up on life.
When we get to best, it doesn’t stay that way.
Because there will always see something better to chase. The best always changes.
This kind of movement of the mind is the way we create endless discontentment with the material world, our families, with the conditions we are living in.
We always imagine there is something better to strive for.
Contentment is not a matter of just ignoring things or deluging ourselves.
It’s a reflection on the fact that we don’t really need very much to be happy.
If I suddenly win the lottery and find myself rich, I would still be conditioned to ask myself: “Now what do I do with a million dollars?”
How do we get to contentment?
Notice that contentment comes through the recognition of what is important in your life.
What is really worthy of your attention?
What are your needs?
What do you feel you must have?
This is a way of not being caught in the obsession of getting more and more. Ultimately, obsession will blind us to what we really need.
Do you agree or do you have a differing point of view?