The word contentment can often make some, especially younger people uncomfortable mostly because they equate contentment with resignation, apathy or lack of motivation. Maybe it’s ok, if you are over 80 years. Many define contentment as sitting docilely for whatever life brings along. But, this attitude is more a sluggish complacency, perhaps even a way to rationalise laziness. Contentment is a spiritual approach to life yet also a practical one. We can examine how contentment is the first step to true happiness, something we all desire and work towards.
Real contentment involves developing a quality of wisdom and discernment, understanding what can and cannot be changed and more importantly knowing when to act and when to wait. So it is clear that contentment does not just happen, we need to cultivate it. But we live in times that seem almost designed to thwart or subvert this. Take the culture of civilised dissatisfaction. The whole point of commercial seems to be to convince you that you are not happy or you would ever be happy if you bought a particular car or toothbrush. Resisting this kind of pressure is easier when we understand the difference between want and need. Neither is good or bad in itself.
Only a need may have to be taken care of immediately but a want almost always can wait. Consider too, the pervasive cultivated sense of entitlement where we believe that only good things should happen to us and are devastated when things don’t go our way. Immediate is the key for delayed gratification? For those who were taught contentment would include faith, inner peace and developing capacity to endure frustration, suffering isolation or whatever life threw at them.
Along this path there is a crying need to learn to be gentle with oneself, too many young people judge not just others, but themselves too harshly. And sadly this usually comes from a sincere but unskilled un-thought through attempt at achieving happiness. When one is content it does not mean there are no intentions and goals but that for the present moment blessings are acknowledged, relationships are nurtured and skills are being developed.