Contentment means being happy with who you are and what you have. Embracing imperfections and accepting that differences is reality. That everything you need to be happy, you already possess... in your mind.
Unfortunately contentment isn't sexy, it doesn't sell products, and it's not something you can show off. Discontent with ourselves does all that shit.
JEALOUSY: Behavior economist Dan Ariely says, "Jealousy and envy spring from comparing our lot in life with that of others". People are competitive to a fault. Keeping up with the Joneses assures a life of trying to impress people that don't give a shit about you. Your friend just got a new iPhone? Car? House? Well, you better one up them if you want to keep up.
ANGER: People become angry when they don't get their way. Sometimes it's trivial, like when they want to get home but they're stuck in traffic. Sometimes it's a big deal, like when someone you don't like is running the country you live in. Contentment has taught me that anger stems from the fear that people won't be OK if life doesn't play out the way they want. It's fear of accepting reality. The reality that the world doesn't revolve around one person. A life full of anger doesn't end well.
DISTRUST: Distrust is the main reason people can’t be content with who they are. They don’t trust themselves to be happy as is. Rather, they resort to sacrificing years of their lives tying their self-worth to external sources that they erroneously believe will make them happy.
I had trouble trusting myself in the past. I was dissatisfied with many aspects of my life:
- MONEY: More wasn't enough.
- CAREER: I tied my self-worth to my career and prioritized it over health and family.
- PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: I had low self-esteem and was out of shape.
- POSSESSIONS: I wasted money on things I didn't need just for a fleeting sense of happiness.
- SOCIAL LIFE: Going out to the same clubs and bars week after week became depressing.
- LOVE LIFE: I was lonely and probably reeked of desperation when trying to meet women.
Discontent is the default setting
The human brain is wired to have a negativity bias. It's designed to find problems and fix them. A method of progression where dissatisfaction is a prerequisite. For evolutionary purposes, it's how humans survived. In today's world, it's why I always assumed there was something wrong with me.
So it’s no surprise that contentment feels unnatural, why happiness is so illusive, and why beating yourself up over dumb shit feels normal.
Until I learned about contentment, my self-development journey felt like it would go on forever. Maybe that's part of the self-development business plan: Don't tell people there is an end and have their predisposed bias for fixing themselves coming back for more and more.
Contentment exposed my root problems and taught me how to fix them for good. It showed me that I'm OK as is and I always have been. I'm able to be grateful for what I have right now and see that my life is pretty great. No matter what happens in the future, I know I'll always be OK.
Happiness is a choice and contentment is the solution
MONEY: I know how much is enough and I know more money can't make me that much happier. As a result, making money isn't constantly on my mind. Freeing me up to focus on the important things in front of me.
CAREER: I'm venturing into new careers that are better suited for what I want out of life. It’s unstable and that's OK, because I trust that I'll do just fine.
FAMILY: At age 96, my grandfather knows he doesn't have much time left. So spending quality time with him is my utmost priority. I'm grateful to have a chance to spend his last days together, making sure he goes out with a bang.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Paulina thinks I'm attractive - that's all that matters.
POSSESSIONS: Wanting less has simplified my life. More time, more money, more happy.
SOCIAL LIFE: Quality over quantity. No more superficial friendships that weigh me down. Life is too short to fuck around.
LOVE LIFE: It’s awesome. Shout out to Paulina!
Contentment is incredibly simple, but, like everything worthwhile in life, it's difficult to achieve. It's not for the faint of heart. It requires going against the norm. Taking a journey that is cold and lonely because contentment isn't socially acceptable. The ability to overcome adversity is a requirement because it's an uphill battle with no finish line. It's a lifelong commitment that is challenging but the reward is priceless.
Contentment teaches me not to take life for granted; not to waste my time on this earth worrying about trivial things like other people's opinions or my insecurities. It removes all the distractions in my life so that I can focus on what is important to me.
Life is pretty awesome... when you already have everything you need.
THE GAME CHANGER
This is my bible. It’s the most important book I have. A book that I take with me to keep me grounded. A book that is timeless.