The highest form of happiness is contentment. The media and our consumer society often play on discontent. They show us images of what life could be if we were something better or if we only had something more. But contentment is about being in the moment and being present with one’s Self and with the divine. God is everything already. When we connect with our divine nature, we are connected to the wholeness beyond fears, desires and the ups and downs of happiness and despair. As a practice, just for today, when the feelings of discontent begin to rise and the mind seeks out all that is wrong and could be changed for the better, find the contentment. This doesn’t mean to be satisfied and no longer put any efforts into growing and becoming a better person. It means finding a place of rest and not striving – just for a moment, just for today when the search for happiness starts to drive you to feel frustrated and angry, look at the good things around. Try on the phrase, “I am content.”
When I lived in Switzerland, I recall often sitting at the kitchen table alone in the morning contemplating happiness. “Am I happy?” I wondered. I didn’t feel anything close to ecstasy. Nor did I feel despair. I felt lonely, but I had all I needed at the moment. A friend gave me some cards and one of them held these wonderful words of wisdom by Sathya Sai Baba, “Contentment is the highest form of happiness.” That card sat on my table and I realized, “I am content. I can do and be content.” Over the years as the loneliness and the trials endured, I often recalled those words and reminded myself. “Yes, there are good things here. I may not be happy in the form that I see in those commercials with people smiling ecstatically over a new pair of sunglasses or a new mate, but I am content.”
I like to explore the meaning of words to help me understand: content is defined as “satisfaction with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else” and contentment is “ease of mind.” Though I’ve done this practice for long periods, I have to keep coming back to it and reminding myself again and again. “I am content.” I may not be happy in the sense of the American TV commercial vision of happiness, but right now, I have what I need and my mind is at ease. “I am content.”
Today try this practice: Focus on contentment. Be content with what you have and where you are. Check in with your feelings first thing and throughout the day. Can you find your sense of contentment?
Bio: Debra Moffitt, author of Awake in the World:108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life is a long time student of the world’s oldest spiritual traditions. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Visit her online at www.debramoffitt.com and www.awakeintheworld.com.