Contentment is the greatest wealth. I want you to read that sentence one more time. If you happen to be discontented with your life right now, I would assume that you have never encountered these words before. While happiness is something that we want to achieve in this life, it’s something that we can never fully attain. Contentment, on the other hand, is readily available to us and all we need to do is take a hold of it. There is nothing wrong with striving to be happy, but happiness is fleeting and can go up or down each moment. Contentment, on the other hand, is more stable. It allows you to get rid of things from your life and still feel happy. In other words, contentment is far better goal to achieve than happiness. The question is how to master the art of contentment. Here are a few crucial steps:
Take Time to Meditate
A lot of people are discontented because they fail to take time to step back and consider everything that is going on in their lives. By taking time to sit back, relax, and meditate, you give yourself the opportunity to reflect, which in turn gives you the power to think rationally whenever a problem arises. It also helps you understand and realize that true happiness can’t be found in external things such as eating, shopping, partying, or even working. Meditation can be done through a number of ways, from praying, to writing on your journal, to going on long walks once in a while, to going on retreats.
Take It a Step at a Time
If you have lived your entire life being discontented most of the time, it’s going to be a challenge for you to change your mindset. You have to realize that it’s going to take time before you can fully grasp what contentment is all about. For this reason, be patient with yourself and take it a step at a time. You don’t build trust with someone right away – instead, you start in small steps. In the same manner, avoid taking huge steps, but do the little things first. Be faithful doing the little things first, and see the trust building up gradually. Over time, you will open yourself up to more, and before you know it, feeling content and happy despite your circumstances won’t be that difficult anymore.
Stop Feeling Bad About Yourself
One of the biggest problems for finding contentment in this life is having ideals. Ideals are not bad, but when we constantly feel bad about ourselves for not being able to meet our ideals, that’s when the problem comes in. Our ideals usually come from what we see on TV, from what we read online, and mostly from what we see in our news feed. We would compare ourselves to our friends who have bigger houses and bigger cars, and then we would start feeling bad and wished we also had what they had. What’s interesting is that most of these people we compare ourselves to also struggle with comparing themselves to others, perhaps even to us! Once you let go of your ideals and unreal expectations in this life, you will start feeling good about yourself, and that’s one good place to start to find contentment.
Find Opportunities to Give
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Tenzin Gyatzo
Nothing could be further from the truth of what the 14th Dalai Lama said. Many times, we feel discontented with our lives because we fail to see that there are other people who are less fortunate than we are. We think and feel that we are deprived just because our neighbors’ houses and cars are much bigger, or because our friends get to go places when the furthest we can travel to is the grocery store. However, once we realize that we actually have more capacity to give than we think, we will feel joy and happiness that we can never have by acquiring more stuff. Instead of thinking that you are poor and feeling depressed about the idea all the time, why not find opportunities to give? It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of money. You can give a hug to a friend who is feeling alone. You can give food and clothing to the homeless man on the streets. You can offer to babysit even just for an hour for the single mom next door. You can offer to teach a few unfortunate children in your community for free. You actually have more to give than you think. All you need to do is to stop looking at yourself and start opening your eyes and your heart to the circumstances around you.
Learn to Appreciate the Little Things
Happiness is a choice, they all say, and that is true. If you want to have a life of contentment, you have to learn how to appreciate the little things. The fact that you are alive right now and are able to read up to this part should be reason enough for you to be happy and content. One practical example of appreciating the little things in life is to simply be thankful for the air you breathe. Oxygen is free, so being thankful that you don’t have to buy air in order to breathe and stay alive is one way to show appreciation. Another example is to just be thankful for the people who love you. You have your family, your friends, and colleagues – not a lot of people have that privilege.
The principles in this article may not apply to everyone, but for most people, I believe that they will. Happiness is a choice and contentment is the greatest wealth. Choose happiness and you will realize that you are the richest person in the world. Choose to be content, and you will be the happiest person on the planet.
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