Socrates said, “Those who are not content with what they have would not be content with what they would like to have.” If we aren’t content now, then nothing outside of ourselves will ever change that.
Contentment is critical in life because it depends on our internal state and isn’t affected by what is going on outside. Contentment is also necessary because it helps us get through the good and bad while helping us avoid getting caught up in what we can’t control.
If you have ever been curious about contentment and why it matters in life, keep reading as we will discuss why it is important.
On the other hand, if you are having trouble finding satisfaction in life, this conversation will guide you to what you are looking for.
How Important is Contentment?
Contentment in life is important because it is the base from where all other value judgments are measured. Put another, if you are content with your life, then the typical ups and downs of things will have a negligible effect on you. This isn’t to say that you can avoid the good and bad in life, but rather, they become less destructive if you accepting your life as it is.
A lot of people have goals in their lives that they set as targets for satisfaction. They might say, “when I get this new job, I will be happy” or “When I buy that new car, I will be glad.” But the problem with these ways of looking at life is that they depend on external factors that we can not control. You can save money to buy a car or prepare for an interview that will help you get the job, but you can’t control how long the car will make you happy or if a better-qualified candidate gets the job.
We all want a better life, and we are often working towards our goals with different levels of effort and success.
But what is important is that if we are content with the situation we are already in, we don’t have to feel too bad if things don’t work out as planned.
On the other hand, if we are content, we won’t need to depend on positive outcomes either.
When we lack contentment in our lives, we are always chasing after something to fill the gaps in our happiness. Last night I talked to a friend about another mutual friend; this mutual friend is the most successful person we know, as far as money is concerned. But at the same time, he has said, “I use the money to fill the gap in my heart, but the more money I make, the bigger the gap gets.”
This guy might not be typical, but he describes a problem many of us might have to differing degrees. Some people use drugs or alcohol, other use money or busyness to fill the gaps in their lives. This is because something meaningful is lacking, and what’s lacking is contentment with what we have.
That friend has deep-seated issues, and I can’t pretend to know how he should deal with them. But that is something he needs to sort out for himself if he wants to get better. At the same time, while it might not be easy, it would likely help him fill the emptiness that he tries to fill with money.
Contentment is important to life because it helps us see past the problems in our lives.
It also helps us align our goals so that we aren’t too focused on external outcomes that we can not control. And like Socrates said, if we aren’t happy with the way things are now, changing one thing isn’t going to make a difference. Put another way, we need to find contentment inside ourselves, and then we won’t need to worry about external factors.
How do you achieve contentment in life?
Achieving contentment in life is quintessential, but it isn’t something that can happen with the snap of our fingers. Instead, it is something that we must be willing to work towards. I’d also suspect that some people are more inclined to contentment than others simply because of their genes.
But let’s talk about five things that you can do to improve your sense of contentment.
Meditation is a great way to ease yourself into accepting what you can not control. One lesson that often comes out of meditation is that we don’t guide our thoughts; instead, they seem to come from somewhere else. With practice, we learn to see that our impressions are something that we can grow beyond, in the sense that they no longer control us. Meditation also teaches us to manage our emotions and keep them under control.
Practice gratitude; while we can’t control all the things that happen to us during the day, we can control where we put our attention. If we practice gratitude and be grateful for all the good that occurs during the day, we can teach ourselves to notice more of it. The more good we see, the more good things there will be. At the same time, this will give us more opportunities to find contentment in our lives.
Try to look at the positive side of things, we can’t often control what happens in the world around us, but we can choose how we look at it all. A few months ago, we had a meeting to see an apartment; the hour before, we got a cancellation call, and then we were ghosted. I was annoyed at the time, but it opened us up to more opportunities, and we have since had a better outcome.
Avoid comparing yourself to others; the best way to feel bad about what you have is to compare yourself to someone else. There will always be people who have a better house or job, but you don’t need to compare yourself to them, instead compare yourself to who you used to be. You might not have the best car, but you got the best car you could at the time.
Go the way of the stoic, learn to accept what you can not change. Much of our lives are outside our control; we had no say over where we were born or who our parents were. But we do have control over our emotional responses to these situations. Rather than getting upset about difficulties, learn to accept that they are a part of life that we have to live with them.
Learn to accept yourself; so much of what gives us trouble in our lives are the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. There was a time when I wanted to be a lawyer, but I wasn’t a fast enough reader to pass the LSAT. At the time, it hurt my feelings, but now, I look back and think how lucky I was to have avoided that fate.
Being content with yourself and your situation is the key to a good life. And while you might not have been born with contentment genes, there are things you can do to train yourself to be more satisfiable.
What effect does contentment have?
Being content makes life easier because it frees us from the struggles of competition and oneupmanship. When we are ok with what we have, we don’t have to make our lives worse to get more of what we think we should have. So much pain in life comes from chasing things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like.
Once you learn to accept what you have and that gives you satisfaction, you don’t need to force yourself to do what you don’t want to do.
Often we would be better off if we did what we wanted rather than what we thought we should. A benefit of contentment is that it shows us that it’s ok to have what we have and we don’t need more.
Finally, contentment is the key to happiness, we often seek happiness from outside sources, but the truth is that happiness comes from within. When we work towards cultivating satisfaction in our lives, we work towards a greater sense of joy and meaning. So instead of chasing after things and external validations, we should seek inner peace and a sense of satisfaction with what is.
Contentment is important in life because it allows us to accept things as they are and move on. At the same time, it enables us to be our best selves because we don’t have to compete and can instead focus on what brings us joy and satisfaction.
Try not to seek things, instead seek inner happiness and accept what is, and contentment should follow.