We constantly seek immortality. We fantasise about having endless time, boundless opportunities and control over our lives. However the fact is that we have limited time and no control over anything beyond ourselves. Fear of death is a common complaint. Whether conscious or subtle this fear haunts everyone. Due to fear of death some people suffer from intense anxiety phobias and panic and their energies are consumed in battling it.
Death is imminent and people try to overcome the fear by accumulating wealth or earn a name by their charitable deeds. Some look after their physical bodies to prolong their physical life. It is important to note why we are scared of it. Introspection reveals that people are scared of death because they have not been able to find meaning in their lives. As a result they harbour feeling of regret, guilt and anger. We experience regret when we have not allowed our inherent potential to blossom.
We get lost in conflicts, traumatic experience, egoistic wars and inhibitions and hence unable to give life our best shot. We tend to feel guilty when we have not loved our close ones fully. In intimate relationships there are some people who end up taking a lot and giving back less. We are being deceitful. One fine day our inner self unleashes guilt and we realise our mistake and feel helpless. In contrast there are people who do not communicate their feelings, needs and wishes in a relationship but end up giving a lot to other person. This creates resentment and anger. They suppress this anger but it breaks their genuine connection from others.
In order to overcome fear or death we need to constantly find meaning in our existence. We need to ensure that we develop our potential to its maximum against all odds. By reminding ourselves about our capabilities and goals and bringing back our attention to them, we can realise our potential. By finding meaning in our existence we are able to move beyond our narrow ego and prospect of death may not be scary. May be we look at life as a liberating adventure where there are infinite possibilities.
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.