Once, when I was a young fellow of 12 or 13, my parents took me on a holiday to a beautiful region of England called the Norfolk Broads. Knowing how much I loved boats, they had rented a houseboat for a week on the River Bure, near the small village of Horning.
I was ecstatic. A small rowing boat was provided with the houseboat, and Dad said I could have it. Each morning, as soon as I woke up -- long before my parents opened their eyes -- I climbed into the boat and went for a row on the river.
I had an exciting book by an author named Stanley Weyman, and liked to go to a quiet, secluded spot where I could read some more pages.
If there is such a thing as contentment, this was it, sitting in my little boat, nose in my book, surrounded by water, trees, birds, and peace. Only when I got hungry did I put my book away and row back to the houseboat.
6 steps to contentment
Contentment does exist, of course. It is one of the primary characteristics of our own true nature. It is one of the greatest blessings that life has to offer. But like anything truly worthwhile, it has a price.
1. Be willing to forgive.
How can we be content if we carry frozen in our heart -- like an iceberg in the Arctic -- the raw pain of past injustice? How can we be contented if we think someone, or something is doing is wrong? It is impossible.
The answer is simple. All you really have to do is forgive yourself, and you will automatically forgive everyone and everything else.
How can we forgive ourselves? How can we forgive the shame and fear that have inevitably accrued in our lives?
I find the key is to be still, and realize in the presence of my own eternal being what is forever perfect, timeless, and free. It has never sinned, and is without shame. What does it have to be ashamed about? What is there to forgive? Nothing.
2. Don't be hostage to your goals.
We need goals in life, of course. We need dreams, and we need to follow our dreams. But I find there is a curious paradox here – a kind of creative tension -- because we cannot be hostage to our dreams.
For example, this blog is important to me. It’s my “baby.” I enjoy it, and I want it to succeed, and grow, and be a blessing to many people, hopefully, as well as to my wife JoAnn and me.
But something else is more important -- being true to my own being, forever untroubled and unchanged by anything that happens in my life or anywhere else.
3. Don't let thoughts rule
Thinking is essential, of course. But I know I sometimes think too much. Don't be afraid to give your mind a rest from time to time.
Idle or destructive thoughts cloud the blessing of contentment that is always with us, wanting to be allowed access to our heart.
As Socrates, that great and wise man once said: "Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty."
4. Give your gift
What is the unique gift you bring to this world? Think about this. See if you can describe your gift in a single sentence. We are not just talking about a particular role or activity here, though that’s included, but the unique spirit, or essence that is yours.
Knowing what your gift is and giving it freely, consistently and with love is a sure path to contentment.
5. Listen to your own inner wisdom.
Contentment and wisdom go arm in arm. Even as I write these words a mental image comes to my mind of a pair of young lovers strolling blissfully together in a sunlit garden.
If you would know more contentment in your life, be still, and listen to that quiet voice of wisdom speaking to you from the depths of your being.
6. Love your own being.
Love your own limitless, unconquerable Self with all the passion that is in you. For it is the very source of the contentment and happiness that is your birthright and your "natural wealth."
A warm welcome once again to new subscribers and of course "old" subscribers. May you experience a little joy and peace and encouragement as you visit this blog. Incidentally, I plan to start a newsletter in the next week or two to nurture this "community."
What do you think about contentment? Please write and share your thoughts or experiences, won't you?