A Guide to Finding Contentment

A sage once said: all your problems are because the world doesn’t work in the way you want it to.

There are two ways of dealing with life. The way of the modern Western world: if you’re not satisfied with something then change it. And the traditional, Eastern way: if you’re not satisfied with something then change yourself until you become content.

The first way causes suffering and is doomed to fail. When you’ve changed one thing (if you can change it) you become dissatisfied with the result. You’re always in a state of being unhappy.

The other way is more difficult but produces long-term contentment.

I had a client who had what is euphemistically called anger management issues. He was divorced and could only see his kids under supervision.

I asked him why he thought that most people don’t react in the way he does. He told me that other people don’t feel in the way he does. If they felt like he did they would react in the same way.

The idea that someone could feel anger and not react was alien to him. This is not that uncommon. Domestic violence, road rage, etc., are essentially caused by this. But it’s just the extreme of a state of mind that most people have. ‘If I don’t like something I am going to change it.’

Maybe you won’t use violence or anger, but the underlying attitude is the same: a selfishness that means you want to change the world so that it makes you happy.

Moving beyond this doesn’t mean you do nothing. It’s impossible to do nothing. Life won’t let you. Instead, you become motivated by feelings that are unselfish: love, compassion, kindness and so on.

When a comedian does a live show on TV they have a ‘warm-up guy’. Someone who tells jokes and gets the audience into a state where they will laugh at anything. They get ‘turned on’ to humour in the same way as people get ‘turned on’ to sex.

It’s possible to get ‘turned on’ to compassion. Of course, in order to tap into this, there has to be something there to start with. Someone who has absolutely no sense of humour won’t get ‘turned on’ to humour. Someone who has no sex drive won’t get ‘turned on’ to sex and someone who has no feelings of compassion won’t get ‘turned on’ in that way.

Some people will be moved to tears by a ‘weepy’ movie. Others are left unmoved. If we feed our more subtle feelings of love and compassion and move away from our own more self-centred attributes we will find we become more content with the world.

People become happier with us and we move in harmony with the flow of life — rather than trying, and failing, to resist it.

By Philip Braham on .



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