The Contented Mind

Who doesn’t want to be happy? I suspect we all do.

All of us have a natural desire and tendency to want to be happy. Usually, our happiness is dependent on something. For example, how often do we say I’ll be happy when I have money, when I’m married, when I get that job, when I get a promotion, when I have a new car, when….

We are happy when our ‘when’ happens, but it doesn’t last. Happiness is temporal. It’s a point in time, an emotion. It comes. It goes. It’s not permanent.

Instead of wishing for happiness, we are better off choosing to be content. When we are content, we enable ourselves to experience happiness. As such, contentment is a precondition to being happy.

Contentment is not a point in time. It is an underlying condition that is present within everyone, at all times. Contentment means being at peace with yourself, your surroundings, your place in life. It is a state of mind that we can choose, or not choose, to be in.

If being content is a condition we can choose, how does one cultivate a contented mind?

I’ve been reading Dr. David Jeremiah’s daily devotional In Moments Like These this year. One of the readings provided five timeless rules for being content. How timeless? They were written by an English clergyman over 200 years ago and are just as applicable today as they were then.

  1. Allow yourself to complain of nothing
  2. Do not imagine yourself to be somewhere other than where you are
  3. Do not compare your situation with that of anyone else
  4. Never allow yourself to dwell on wishing this or that had happened
  5. Never dwell on tomorrow

Following these rules requires us to live in the present, not dwelling on the past or worrying about tomorrow. It requires us to accept ourselves for who we are and making an effort to learn, grow, and improve each day. It means putting a focus on what we can control, which is our thoughts and actions. It’s not allowing ourselves to be disturbed by other people, their actions, and events that we cannot control or influence. It’s being thankful and expressing gratitude for what we have rather than desiring what we don’t have or being envious of others.

To be clear, having a contented mind does not guarantee happiness. You can be content and not be happy. However, you cannot experience true happiness without being content. And the more time you spend in a contented state of mind, the more opportunities you will have to experience happiness.

Rules to live by.

Give ’em a try.

You won’t regret it.