By: Rev. Govna G
Any religion or philosophy that’s worth its undies has preached the necessity for gratitude and contentment. They are the foundation for a happy life. On a basic level, every religion, every religious holiday, every prayer has, at its core, the spiritual need for gratitude. We know that there are very specific needs that the royal we requires for health and survival. When we are thankful for these needs being met, however modestly, we give thanks for life itself. It’s this “Attitude of Gratitude” that provides us with a feeling of contentment and a glowing inner peace.
Gratitude for life’s simple pleasures is important for everyone to foster in their own lives. The simple pleasures and natural blessings in this world are usually the ones we only notice once they’re pissed on or lodged against an abutment. Our health, the people we love, our unique talents, all those fleeting special moments – these shape who we are and give purpose to our lives. Do yourself a big favor, and take time out regularly to be utterly thankful for who you are and what you’ve got, even if you think it ain’t much.
If there’s a secret to contentment, it’s to live in the now, man. Focus on the sensations and simple pleasures surrounding you at every moment. When we are distracted by countless diversions that do not concern us, we lose our focus. It’s not easy. We are tantalized by targeted advertisements, seduced by material beauty, and coaxed into thinking that we need to be better than we already are. Self-improvement is one thing, but deceiving ourselves into wanting what we don’t need is another matter all together. It’s ok to partake, but we don’t need to “consume.” By focusing on what we really need, and remembering what truly gives us contentment and peace of mind, we can avoid getting bogged down and even trapped by unfulfilling activities and material distractions.
Consumer goods and luxuries can quickly catch us in a kind of quicksand that sinks us into an unsatisfied, if not spoiled, frame of mind. Also, let’s not forget – let’s not forget, dudes – that over-spending and debt quickly become traps that can weigh us down, keep us working, and ultimately cause our thinking to become very uptight! Recognize the value of what you have and what you think you need. If we look closely enough, it’s clear that we can easily live without many of the things we have and/or want.
Another obstacle to our contentment is the need to hurry. There are so many times when we find ourselves rushing from one sight to the next, and we miss all the little treats in between. We don’t need to listen to all of life’s little tour guides telling us that we have to see this, try that, go there, be this. Slow down and listen occasionally to your inner voice, which only wants for you to be content. When we’re handling the money, and driving the car, and talking on the phone all at the same time, accidents happen and our car might even get a little dinged up. A sure way to lose inner peace is to rush things. Meditate on the meaning of the phrase “Take your Time.” It’s your life on this rock, take time to stop and smell the Half and Half.
A time-tested technique to being content is through moderation. Like Goldilocks making herself at home in the bungalow of the Three Bears, we should do our best to avoid extremes and to find the “Just Right” in life. Maybe this means settling for the reliable Torino with some brown, or, uh, rust coloration. Or opting for a modestly priced receptacle at the rental house instead of paying for the ones that range up to three thousand, or simply stayin’ and enjoyin’ your coffee at just the right temperature. Life is full of relative choices and grey areas. Even if your toe slips over the line a little when you throw the rock down the middle of the lane, when it spins somewhere between the gutters, you’re gonna knock down some pins. At the very worst maybe you get to mark it 8, which is a score you can still be content with.
Socrates said, “He Is Richest Who Is Content With The Least, For Content Is The Wealth Of Nature.” So, lets look to nature for an example of contentment. For me, I need look no further than the Scarab, otherwise known as the Dung Beetle. The Scarab, that creep can roll, man. The Rollers of the Scarab family collect and roll animal feces into balls that are then used for everything from food to mating. I’ll spare the details, but let’s agree that the Dung Beetle has found a niche in the Animal Kingdom that does not inspire a great deal of admiration. The point is – here’s my point, dude – that The Roller Scarab has learned to live on its allowance, which is ample. You know, when life gives you [lemons], you uh, well, you know what I’m trying to say here. The Scarab is not looking for a handout. It’s not looking at what the ants have stored up in their hills or what the caterpillars are eating that night. If asked, they would probably tell you that they are content and thankful for what they have, because they are whole and complete in the task which is their charge. The humble Scarab truly abides.
The common and the ordinary offer the keys to Contentment. Sounds boring, right? Well it kind of is. And that’s really the beauty of it. Contentment sits patiently in front of us everywhere, all of the time. It lies in those quiet, everyday moments. It hides in the most mundane objects. It slowly trickles through every word of small talk with a friend. Always there, just behind the lucent vale of our mortal little existence. Give thanks and enjoy what is, because you never know when it may not be.