Paving the path to inner contentment
Inner contentment is the acceptance of who you are, to embrace what you have and where you are in life at any given moment. Inner contentment is the ability to live peacefully and presently, fully in control of your internal emotional state regardless of outside external factors.
What is inner contentment?
I believe contentment is the cornerstone to living a life in peace, harmony and balance. Holding inner contentment can also reduce your stress levels, promote wellness, develop a growth mindset and positive outlook towards life, making life more pleasurable. For me, to live contently is to live in freedom: a freedom to be who you are, enjoy who you are, and live life exactly as you are in that moment, without worrying about the future or fretting over the past. To live in the now.
Having inner contentment means you are not reliant on people, material things, external factors, or life circumstances to bring you fulfilment or give you comfort. You do not seek happiness from other sources than yourself or rely on others for happiness. Possessing a strong sense of inner contentment can help you make the best of life regardless of where you find yourself. When you’ve developed a strong sense of inner contentment, your outlook in life is not easily shaken or changed by what’s happening in your environment.
For example, someone with inner contentment could find themselves in a tough situation, however they will make the best of what is there, whereas if you have internal discontentment, you could be in the best circumstances and still find dissatisfaction.
The journey to contentment
Contentment isn't a destination, it's a journey, it’s a journey you will go through your entire life and as during any journey there may be obstacles along the way, wrong turns or diversions. The key is just to continue on the path, keep pushing through, developing our mindset along the way.
As humans we are painfully aware that life is full of ups and downs, inner contentment will not stop the trials and tribulations of life, however it will help you overcome each and get through troublesome times in resilience and greater ease. It is human nature to catastrophise situations with the outcome to prepare for them, this can be the brain's way of protecting our body from emotional pain or suffering. However, I feel it amplifies our suffering, causing us to suffer twice. Sometimes causing us to suffer for no reason, as perhaps the thought of our suffering is more distressing than if/when the actual cause of our suffering occurs.
Being content is also having the awareness to know how to enjoy the ups and learn from the downs. Owning this internal protective factor can help one lead a life with less unnecessary suffering, to let go of what has been and the need to control what is to come. It involves both surrender and gratitude and allows you to accept “what is” without the despair of holding onto “what could have been”.
Paving the path to contentment
Contentment may be very personal to everyone, therefore I suggest you spend some time in self-reflection considering what contentment is personally to you, consider how it feels when you are content. How does your body feel? What is the overriding emotion you associate with contentment? How does life look? What is contentment to you? Think of a time you felt content. How did this feel?
Once you have sourced your internal response to contentment you may wish to follow these simple suggestions to get your started on the road to cultivating contentment, it may be an idea to develop some of your own, based on your own personal discovery.
Steppingstones to contentment
Develop an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is more than saying thank you, it is developing a deep appreciation for life and the world around you. It is looking at life with a positive appreciation, considering what you have rather than what you would like. Make a commitment to practice gratitude. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life, regularly acknowledge the feeling of gratitude when it surfaces.
Live in the moment
Don't postpone happiness by waiting for a day when your life is less busy or less stressful. That day may never come. Live now. Enjoy the small pleasures of life. If you struggle to see those pleasures, create them. Implore one act daily of something you enjoy, this should be something you don’t have to do, instead set a daily intention of something you wish to do. This could be as small or extravagant as you like. The only stipulation is to do it regularly.
Let go of the need to control
Recognise what you can or cannot control. You will soon find that there is very little we can control in life. Of course, we can concern ourselves over external contributors, however, there is little we can do to control them. What we can control is our reactions and actions. Work on your own reactions, the rest will work out.
To be content does not mean you do not desire more or wish to live a fuller life, it simply means you are thankful for life as it is now and patient for what is to come. Live presently, learn often, laugh more and love much, follow these steps, believe in yourself and you are halfway there.