Archive for July, 2010

“The objective of life is contentment. Happiness is surficial and short-lived, but contentment permeates every aspect of your life consistently, once achieved. Religions tend to talk about enlightenment, but it is basically the same thing.”

We live in a society where size matters. Everything is target driven, from government ministers obsessed by management theory to school children dominated by SATS. If something cannot be measured it has no value, as how can you compare yourself to the ‘model of perfection’ if you can’t quantify either? We are constantly told, sometimes very subtly, that to be whole and happy people we have to have enough fun, happiness, money, beauty, sex & cool stuff. If we have enough of all these, which incidentally are generally on sale or available to those who tow the party line, then we too may become models of perfection and the envy of all our friends.

{The ‘model of perfection’ seems to be based on those lifestyles of the rich & famous that are detailed in Hello magazine. Unfortunately, these bear less relevance to real life than most Mills & Boon stories, even for those of us who are actually rich & famous. So we are on a hiding to nothing if we try to measure up to these models that are commonly peddled in our society. Even more unfortunately, most of us do just that.}

Now, most of the truly important things in life are not measurable in themselves or take years to be noticed. Examples are kindness, understanding, wisdom and gratitude. Also the most important of all, contentment. Contentment is very like enlightenment, only you don’t need to like yoga or joss sticks to indulge. I use the word indulge on purpose, as it coveys a sense of doing something wonderful but naughty. Trying to achieve contentment within our society is just that: a wonderful thing to achieve but naughty because content people make poor consumers, are less swayed by spin and less blinded by duty.

Contentment is often confused with happiness, but they are quite different. The former is a pervasive state of being, a constant boon that permeated every aspect of your life. The latter is mercurial, easily conjured by good company or good booze, for instance, but just as easily lost. Happiness can animate even the most icy heart for a while, but once gone leaves nothing behind but memories. Or possibly even depression. Once you are content, you will be able to accept your life as it should be and ignore the model of perfection. The fashions and fads of the world will hold no sway, leaving you free to pick and choose what you want to use and what discard. You will not be stressed by you imperfections, but accept them with a sense of humour and appreciation. Being kind to yourself will allow you to grow and, most importantly, help those around you grow through your kindness to them. This is why contentment and enlightenment are so similar, as they both lead to great wisdom and the ability to help those around you.

It is not easy to be truly content. To do so you need to understand what is important to your life, then act upon it. This will be different for everyone, so there is no Haynes Manual to contentment – rather, there is a system to follow that should allow you to understand what’s right for you. The basics of this are outlined in my blog post ‘A short sharp (ish) guide to zeta’, but will be explored in greater detail soon. ish.


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