“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”― Socrates
Your heart strings are probably being pulled in many directions these days if you are listening to the news, talking to family and friends, or basically aware of what is occurring in the world. Contentment would be near impossible to attain if you were to look externally for a sense of stillness and peace. So how do you keep your heart healthy and balanced in the face of so much conflict and tragedy?
First, you turn your attention inward to find contentment. Contentment is an internal emotional state of acceptance of your present reality, who and where you are at ANY given moment. It has little to do with external circumstances or acquisitions. Contentment radiates from the stillness of a peaceful heart, it cannot be attained by attempting to control your externals.
Here in the U.S. we live in a “more, more, more” culture where we have been encouraged to find relief or at least a change in what we are feeling by reaching for something outside of ourselves, discontentment has been propagated by the market. This has led to emotional imbalances for those caught in this unfulfilling chase.
Now we are in multiple crises and there are many reality based reasons to feel emotions other than contentment. It can be difficult to be available to process the depth of these emotions though, if you are conditioned to seek emotional “relief” from “normal” life by looking outside yourself. The emotional maturity, stamina and fortitude needed to maintain a healthy heart system in the present time demands you look within. The still, present state of contentment is exactly where you want to be to get through the crises in the healthiest way possible.
The general benefits of residing in the place of contentment, generated from the hum of healthy heart, are many. It allows you to have access to your passions and purpose in life. It allows you to be emotionally available to feel the full emotional range in each moment without getting stuck on any particular emotion. And, it keeps your body and mind free of the burden of unprocessed emotions clogging these other systems and manifesting into illness, just to name a few of the benefits.
There are a vast range of emotions that emotionally healthy people experience. Contentment though, is the emotional center point and constant from which all the other emotions ought to emerge, but never take over. It is the still point within the movement of the rest of the emotional range, both positive and negative. Presence in your heart allows you to feel life fully.
If we are to apply a numerical value scale to this range, the following chart (below) I found on Mark Alan Fish’s blog exemplifies it perfectly. He positions contentment at the place value zero. Zero represents the stillness and void from which all potential emerges. It is not empty in the way you might think, as it contains the untapped potential.
Contentment exists in the absence of emotional reactivity and it creates the space for you to experience the full range of emotional responses. The difference between a reaction and a response in this context is that an emotional response will be felt without losing connection with the stillness in your heart. In contrast to a reaction where the connection is lost. An emotional reaction is like you are taking a rollercoaster ride of emotion that just needs to run its course before you can put your feet back on the ground and access the stillness again.
Coming back to the emotion scale,with contentment at zero, the scale then divides the emotions into three positive and three negative groups of emotions increasing in number as the intensity level increases. A feeling response doesn’t necessarily equate with action. But with contentment as your base you can make a conscious choice of action rather than take the roller coaster ride of a reactive impulse.
For a healthy heart, your emotional goal is to maintain connection with the stillness within your center where contentment resides, no matter what other emotions you may be feeling in the moment. Fostering contentment is preventative medicine for your heart. It will lower your stress, increase your health and well being and get you through the pandemic in good emotional health.
4 Keys to Finding Contentment during a Global Pandemic
Assess where you are relative to where YOU have been and where YOU would like to be – NOT where other people are
Comparing yourself to others is time and energy spent with no return or gain. It will create a barrier to connection and the experience of contentment. Resist the urge, even if everyone around you is doing it, just pay attention to how this behavior makes them feel. We all have our own unique journey with the interplay of nature and nurture influencing us as we evolve. A more productive focus is on your own evolution and accepting where you are. Judgement about where you are is similarly indulgent. Indulging feelings like… I am here but I “should” be somewhere else wastes your life force and prevents you from feeling content with your life.
Objectively assess and accept where you are on your evolutionary trajectory through life. This may require some inner work. If you are not where you would like to be in life, allow for the stages of grief until you reach acceptance. Then determine if there are steps you can take to make changes in your desired direction. Make a plan and enact your action steps without expectations of results. Simply, maintain an open heart and willingness to learn and grow.
Keep an attitude of gratitude
There are many benefits to maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Research shows that it will make you healthier, more resilient and increase your self esteem. From an energetic perspective gratitude opens the receptive flow of energy. It allows you to be filled with what is real and available.
Develop the habit of gratitude in action. Express thankfulness in all areas, big and small and show your appreciation to the people who are a part of your life. It opens the flow of energy and brings a sense of fulfillment and contentment. Learn to enjoy the simple things that are free like having meaningful conversations or taking a walk in nature.
Tend your spirit
Your spirit is your inner world system processing the energy of your life. It is the compliment to your heart in the outer world. Spiritual health supports heart health. I want to note that spirituality is different than religion. While organized religion based in truth can nourish one’s spirit and provide community needs, there are many other ways to foster spiritual health as well. Many people practice meditation, connect with nature or simply surrender to the natural flow of living authentically.
Don’t wait to fulfill your purpose in life. Aligning your life with your purpose is a lifelong journey, it is not something to put off. It will bring fulfillment, satisfaction and contentment. Live with passion, this is the energy flow that will motivate and nourish you. If the idea of purpose and passion seem out of reach then simply fill your life with the activities and connections that are meaningful to you. Pay attention and you will find clues to your passion and purpose in these moments.
Love people not things
Material possessions are a nice part of life and you may feel a temporary surge of happiness acquiring things but they are inanimate objects and they will not nourish your heart nor bring life sustaining contentment. Directing love towards objects is an energy drain, there is no life to respond. A love based connection with another person on the other hand is creative. The loving exchange will generate energy and nourish your being.
Only spend time with people who fill your bucket and avoid connections with people who drain you. Focus on seeing, hearing and acknowledging the people you spend time with and show them that you appreciate them with your actions. You can then extend the love by practising random acts of kindness.
Move through life with an open heart. Emotions are part of what makes us human, they add depth to your life and keep you connected with others. Strive for contentment as your emotional goal. Be present in the moment and open to the full emotional range but don’t attach to the negative or positive emotions. Allow them to be felt and released; let them go. Always return to the stillness in your center. A peaceful heart can express love and it can receive love. It is contented.