The Value of Contentment
When I was a little girl, I found a very old storybook at my grandma’s house that quickly became my favorite. It was about a little cat named Abner who was always happy and content. Abner would sit in sunny spots, drink cream, and play at catching his own tail.
His other animal friends would talk about him, wondering at how he could possibly be so happy all of the time when they had all these things to worry about — things like losing their tail-feathers or whether it might rain.
The moral of the story, of course, is to practice being happy and content instead of worrying about things that are beyond our control.
Being content is literally valuable
While some people are just naturally more easy-going and content than others, the fact is that we can all learn to enjoy the things we already have, and the things we’re already able to do. Learning to be content is valuable, because when you’re content, by definition you are happy with your life.
You aren’t off stressing about whether you might be laid off “due to the economy”. You aren’t unhappy because you can’t afford a $225,000 Ferrari. Or maybe more realistically, you aren’t unhappy because you haven’t gotten a new car in a couple of years, or because your neighbor has a new furniture in their living room when yours has been around the block.
You don’t — as the saying goes — spend money that you don’t have, to buy things that you don’t really want, to impress people that you don’t like. You stay off the debt merry-go-round. You enjoy the things you do have, and get the things that are important to you. And you plan for emergencies and unexpected events without worrying about them.
Contentment is not a destination
The thing to remember about contentment is that it’s not a destination. You don’t work and work and then finally get there. You just practice enjoying now. Each moment. There is always something to enjoy, if you look for it hard enough. And once you get into the practice of looking, there are more and more things to enjoy.
Eventually, a funny thing will happen.
One day you’ll wake up and hear someone talking about how they really want the latest and greatest XYZ gadget because it’s just so much better than their 6 month old ABC gadget, and you’ll think to yourself, “Why? ABC is perfectly good.”
That’s the day you’ll realize that you’ve stepped off the hamster wheel of consumerism and onto the lazy river of what’s important to you. Of course, you will still buy and do things. Contentment is not about taking a vow of poverty. You may even buy and do some pretty darn expensive things, but it’ll be a choice that you enjoy, not a compulsion to fill a void or meet the so-called expectations of society.
You’ll practice contentment.