Contentment is the basis of happiness and peace. Yet we live in a culture whose economy thrives on keeping us in discontent. Think of the constant bombardment that comes at us with the sole purpose of alluring us into discontent. We get pulled out of ourselves longing for what we don’t have. And where the mind goes, prana follows. Allowing our prana to escape is an expensive price to pay for an untrained mind so easily captured by the desire for something other than what it is currently experiencing.
This allurement to discontent is becoming global as the internet becomes available to the planet. Often simple communities that once were happy can now see what they are lacking and misery is becoming their companion. Like many of us, they were fine until they became aware of what they didn’t have.
How do we cultivate contentment in a culture that begs our allegiance to discontent? How do we “stay home”, content with ourselves and our lives? Certainly our practices of meditation, mindfulness, etc., build the growing capacity for inner strength and staying power. Reflecting on our long line of ancestors, whose very lives we stand on, as well as the longevity of the spiritual traditions that we are part of, gives us a solid foundation of wonder and strength that keeps us firm in ourselves; we do not stand alone, and there is no need to be wobbly. Gratitude and intimacy with what we do have cultivates contentment.
Contentment does not mean that we are suddenly in a life full of ease with constant feelings of satisfaction. Just the opposite is true: we are cultivating the ability to entertain a vast range of emotions and experiences and still stay connected to contentment. Life comes packaged in ups and downs. Contentment is learning to tolerate these fluctuations with one foot firmly planted in equanimity, knowing that in this moment nothing is missing.