3-Steps toward Contentment
The practice of contentment is a three step process. It’s the moment by moment progression from awareness to acceptance and then to action.
Step 1: Awareness. Becoming aware of the unappreciative more, better, different thought behind any discontent you experience is the first step toward contentment. It is the initial step required to liberate yourself from the negative emotional and behavioral consequences that follow would inevitably follow any thoughts that are based in the mistaken believe that you would be content if only you acquired or achieved more, better or different of this or that beyond what is needed to meet your basic needs for food, shelter and social contact. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said in the national bestseller book, Wherever You Go There You Are, “Awareness is much like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thoughts as thoughts rather than getting caught up in them as reality”. Without awareness, we are blind to the falsity inherent in our unappreciative more, better, different thoughts. With awareness, we can see and know that these types of thoughts are nothing more than misleading mental constructs that disseminate discontentment.
Step 2: Acceptance. Dispassionately accepting that unappreciative more, better, different thoughts are endemic to our humanness is the second step toward contentment. It is the coming to terms with the fact that the left side of our brain is hardwired to judge, evaluate, compare in more, better and different ways. It is also the coming to terms of the reality that virtually all of us have been conditioned to erroneously believe that contentment comes from getting more and more, better and better, and different upon different things – more money, better job, different spouse, and endlessly on and on. Without acceptance of our unappreciative more, better, different thoughts, our awareness of them is stillborn. With acceptance, our awareness creates an inner energy field devoid of these types of thoughts, one that is receptive to the infusion of thoughts that are appreciative rather than unappreciative, one that will evoke the satisfaction and serenity constituent of contentment.
Step 3: Action. All actions involved in practicing contentment are aimed at increasing the size and strength of the inner energy fields which formed each time we became aware of and accepted an unappreciated more, better, different thought. Whether we take the action of using our adult inner voice to deal with the discontentment that derives from the unappreciative more, better, different parental and similarly authoritative voices in our head which would have us belief we are not enough just as we are, or we take the action of unwinding from our worrisome and even fearful unappreciative more, better, different thoughts about what should have been in the unalterable past or could be in the imagined future, or we take the action by consistently breathing, praying, meditating, and likewise centering our thoughts and emotions in appreciation for the present moment, all of these actions constitute ways to develop a predominately appreciate rather than unappreciative state of mind. Each and every one of them is grounded in gratitude for who we already are and what we already have in health, material possessions and relationships.
Awareness, acceptance, and action are the three central stepping stones in the practice of contentment. They are the steps which must be repeatedly taken to increasingly experience greater and longer lasting moments of contentment.