Contentment

“Satisfaction in life arises from knowing you are exactly where you belong. Discontented people strive to be somewhere else or someone else. Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life.” ~ Unknown …

Satisfaction in life all too often seems fleeting. For instance, perhaps I performed beyond my expectations in a hockey match. The satisfaction I experience definitely exists, but throughout the day, it diminishes and fades away. However, I believe the satisfaction referred to here is our contentment with life. And perhaps it really is as simple as accepting life and everything it brings to us–the joys and the sorrows, the wins and the losses. Perhaps the secret to satisfaction is our faith and trust in life–our surrender to the fullness of life.

When we are able to accept the course that life has carried us on, we find that we free up our time and energies to manage the things that truly matter in our life–the things that we can manage and can affect positively. By not trying to impose our will on our life or the lives of others, we allow ourselves to live life in true peace and harmony.

However, this does not mean we should become passive or apathetic; we are still needed to stand up for the moral rights, to build up others positively, and to contribute to life in a way that benefits us all.

Regardless of my presence, life will continue on. And the attitudes I embrace while I am alive ultimately will contribute towards the level of satisfaction I experience in life. The question is, “Do I want to be content… or create my own discontent?”

Find acceptance of where you are at in life today.

Questions to consider:

Where are you in life right now? Where do you feel you belong?

How can you increase your awareness of some of the “many great and small acceptances in life?”

What must you give up if you wish to flow along with life?

For further thought:

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”~ Lao Tzu

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Show Unconditional Love

“Even after all this time. The sun never says to the earth, “you owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.” ~ Hafiz …

Love is arguably the most powerful force in the world that we have at our disposal–it costs us very little and produces so much. But if we wish to use it to its full potential “lighting up the whole sky,” then we must give it to others, and we must do so without conditions. If I desire authentic love, then I cannot say I will offer it only to those I like, or exclusively to my friends and family–I must show love to all humans, regardless of who they are, what they have done, or what they believe, for when we place conditions on our love, we weaken its power and diminish its very nature.

Hafiz is sharing with us a very powerful message about love–its selfless nature. As he puts it, “the sun never tells the Earth, ‘you owe me.'” Although it receives nothing in return, it endlessly lights up the entire sky of half the Earth. We should strive for this love–a love that nurtures and sustains, a love that shines outwardly instead of in, a love that provides energy and warmth for others, a love that asks nothing in return.

Society likes to romanticize love and make it appear as something we fall into. But love is not a state of being, it is a positive action; it is something we must actively give. If we only love because we expect to receive something back, then we are placing conditions on that love.

Love is a power. Love is a cause. Love can change the world. But this type of love–this powerful, positive force in the world–must come without conditions.

Show unconditional love towards others today.

Questions to consider:

What are some conditions you place on your love?

How might you better use love as a positive force? Is there anything holding you back?

What kinds of positive things might you accomplish if you were to use love as a positive force?

For further thought:

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” ~ Jimi Hendrix

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Your Truth Within

“Go deep and live life from your truth within, and watch your most authentic self, full of love, peace, and beauty manifest out into the world.” ~ D.S. Clark …

Our authentic self–the “truth within” that radiates goodness, love, and beauty into the world–is contained within us. Unfortunately, many individuals have not discovered this truth, or have but are afraid or refuse to let it shine forth, and this leaves them with few places to go when they need peace in their lives. Not knowing our true authentic self, leaves us lost and confused–without a sense of balance and belonging and unsure of who we are in this world.

If only we could discover our “truth within” at a younger age, so many of the evils of this world we are currently faced with would be minimalized and marginalized. We would be individuals who are empowered to make our lives–and this world–a better place to live in from the start. Still, it is not too late to begin searching within ourselves, or to help others to do so as well. But we must be willing to learn about ourselves from deep within, and we must listen to what our inner voices have to teach us above all the noise that the world around us creates.

Your hopes and dreams lie within you. Do you look for them there? Do you live from your truth within? Do you see, feel, and embrace “your most authentic self?” It was gifted to you and to you alone… treasure it always.

Take some time to reflect upon your truth within–your hopes, dreams, and values.

Questions to consider:

Where do you most often seek for purpose, meaning, and happiness in life? Within or without?

Have you found a place within yourself where your most authentic self resides?

How might you go about looking for those nurturing places within?

For further thought:

“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” ~ Agnes Repplier

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Self Awareness

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.” ~ May Sarton …

Nobody wants to be lonely. Yet even with this truth, how often do we put forth the effort to get to know ourselves better? How often does society encourage us to learn more about who we are and what strengths we hold within ourselves? This is the “poverty of self” that May is talking about–the inability to find ourselves, and to know ourselves, in life.

Why are many of us afraid of solitude? Are we afraid of what we might find? Are we afraid that we may find nothing at all? Are we afraid of growth and change, of perhaps becoming something new and unknown? One thing is for sure, if we never take the time to get to know ourselves, we will never discover the “real me” within. We are each wonderful and unique individuals; but if we never take the time to look, we will keep our riches buried in the dirt.

You are full of riches. Take the time to discover them through the peace and quiet of solitude. Make the effort to enrich your life with the beauty that is you.

Grow in self-awareness by spending some quiet time alone today.

Questions to consider:

When was the last time you felt lonely? When was the last time you tried to spend some time alone in the peace and quiet within you?

Why do so few people seem to recognize the riches within themselves?

What are some ways in which you can find (or create) times of peace and quiet in your life?

For further thought:

“Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.” ~ Thomas Merton

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The Changes Within Your Life

“There’s a big difference between accepting how things are now and believing that’s how they’ll always be. The first frees you, the second limits you. Both are choices that are up to you to make.” ~ Doe Zantamata …

I am often torn between the desire to have things stay as they are, and allowing new things to enter into my life that will perhaps replace the old. There are those things that I like just as they are now–a trail through the woods, my neighbors and friends, my health. But as Doe mentions, I really have two choices on how to look at the things in my life. Either I can look at them and believe that is how they will always be, or I can accept them as they are and make the best of them at this moment in time, knowing full well that they will most likely change over time. The first makes me dependent upon something that is outside of my control, the second sets me free.

Being content with things just as they are is something that is very healthy and rewarding. Many religions and philosophies teach this as a fundamental truth: that we need not try to exert our energy or will on anything in order to change it into something–or back into something–that we think it should be. And they are right… doing so is generally a futile endeavor. Yet when we accept things the way they are, their beauty and their uniqueness are clear to us, and the need to change them for our own sake subsides.

Am I intolerant of change? Do I try to control aspects of my life, and the things within it, that are outside of my control? When I am able to accept how things are now and release my belief that “this is how they will always be,” I will find happiness and contentment in life. For life is good when we are willing and able to simply let life be as it will be.

Find acceptance of the changes within your life.

Questions to consider:

Can you think of a time you accepted something just as it was, even though you did not like it that way?

Is it easier to let things be, or to try to make them into what we think they should be? Which do you feel you learned the most as a child?

How can we learn ways to accept things as they are, and to better appreciate life right here and now?

For further thought:

“You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen.” ~ Kody Keplinger

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Vessel Of Giving

“Never think that what you have to offer is insignificant. There will always be someone out there that needs what you have to give.” ~ Unknown …

There are times in our life in which we may feel insignificant, as if our contributions and gifts are of no use to the world. Because we are unable to see an obvious result of our actions, we feel powerless, or worthless, and choose to not act at all. But this kind of thinking is a poison that eats away at the ability and potential we most definitely do possess to make a positive difference in the world today.

The problem is not that what we have to offer is insignificant; the problem is our inability or unwillingness to see the potential within us. Perhaps we are afraid of the outcome; or maybe we fear that we will not live up to the expectations of others and ourselves, or will be faced with criticism and disapproval. But we are part of something much larger than ourselves–our circle of influence stretches far beyond those we interact with on a daily basis. And we have the ability to give something that only we possess to someone who is out there waiting for it, waiting for us.

When we allow ourselves to be a part of the tapestry of humanity, we begin to see how our contributions go on to positively affect the big picture. We discover that there are many threads woven together that need us, that rely upon us. You may not be able to give everything to everyone, but you certainly can give something to someone.

Allow yourself to be a vessel of giving today.

Questions to consider:

Why should we be concerned whether or not we contribute to the world on our own scale?

What are some of your most recent contributions to the greater good?

What kinds of thoughts and ideas keep us from contributing freely to the greater good?

For further thought:

“Happiness is good, but well-overrated: what we hate most are the very motivators that put us in gear. A man drifts along with little to contribute until something agitates him enough to make a difference, whether for himself or for his communities.” ~ Criss Jami

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Perception

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” ~ Bob Marley …

Our happiness in life can be directly linked to our perception of life–our attitudes, our awareness, our involvement. Rain is a great example of this in action. I have seen many individuals who would do everything in their power to not get wet in the rain. When the rain begins, they rush inside; on a cloudy day, they carry an umbrella. To them, the rain is something that gets them wet–something that perhaps inconveniences them, or something that they do not have the time or concern to truly feel.

We can come up with a lot of reasons to avoid the rain–I will get dirty, it is too cold, I do not want to have to change my clothes, it is going to mess up my hair, it will ruin my shoes. But feeling the rain is something that we can only experience by staying outside during the rainstorm. And it is something wonderful–standing out in the rain, feeling the wetness fall from above and soak us down to the skin, listening to the sounds of the rain hitting the pavement and the trees and the houses. The uniqueness of feeling the rain is very special–after all, it is not a feeling that we get to experience often.

A couple years back, after attending a musical with my wife, we exited the theatre only to find ourselves faced with an extremely heavy downpour. The car was about 10 blocks away, and we were not in the mood to get soaked–but being the spontaneous and impulsive type, I talked her into going and not trying to wait it out, as it would probably be hours until it ended. At first, she was apprehensive, so I walked out into the rain and began spinning in circles with my arms and head upwards. Within seconds, I was soaked with rain as those around stood and watched from the dryness of the overhang. My wife was looking at me as if waiting for some reaction, so I held out my hand, and told her that it is not bad once you are wet. She stepped out and took my hand, and together we walked the 10 blocks back to the car.

Being soaked also brought back fond memories of my high school football games and practices–the muddy and rainy ones that I will always remember. Snug and dry is nice… but knowing the other side every now and then is nice and also very important for us. This world was given to us with a wealth of experiences that we can learn from, and it is very hard to do so if we refuse to experience what is here for us. The lesson I hope to convey, is we should always be willing to explore the unknown in life and enjoy the little things while we still can. Remember, once you get wet, it does not matter anymore.

Be open to the experiences of life; and if it rains today, allow yourself to feel the rain.

Questions to consider:

When was the last time you stayed out in the rain on purpose? How did it feel?

Why do we value staying dry and warm as much as we do?

What kinds of things might we learn from getting wet and feeling the rain?

For further thought:

“I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.” ~ Adeline Knapp

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