Contentment: it's about need, not greed

Our minds are powerful. Everything we say and do arises from our thoughts. If you can change your thoughts, you can explore a way of living that is more peaceful.

Contentment is the third of the 16 Guidelines For Life. When we feel no need to reach for something more, it frees us to direct our energy in fresh, flexible and creative ways.
 

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Relentless hoping for more will never bring happiness. Contentment is being at peace with who we are and a quiet, settled feeling within regardless of the situation. Then we have no need to hurt another or to profit at their expense. We are open and aware of the needs and gifts of others.

“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed” said the great late Mahatma Gandhi.

Lynn Swadchuck, who retired at 53 to Sharbot Lake, Ont., from a “crazy” job as an art director, says: “Contentment is things being ‘good enough’. Contentment doesn’t mean no pleasure.  It means not getting obsessive about maximizing your pleasure.

“It is knowing how little I can live on by eating more simply and spending less. (It’s) having my coffee at four in the afternoon in the same peaceful spot … When that is a peak in my day, I know I am living a smooth, more contented life.”
Try this: The next time you feel restless and dissatisfied, instead of springing into action, come to a standstill. Resist the impulse to eat, drink, smoke, start a conversation or whatever you usually do. Take a few deep breaths and accept things as they are. Let it remain so for five minutes. Does this alter the choices you make?

Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw, director of The Centre for Compassion and Wisdom in Burlington, is coauthor of 16 Guidelines For Life, available at website centreforcompassionandwisdom.com.

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