One Man’s Journey to Find Contentment
In a world filled with lists of the “Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Productivity and Get More Stuff Done,” self help books designed to fix the flaws that we perceive in ourselves, and people striving to climb the corporate ladder, make a name for themselves, or hell — get their writing in front of as many people as possible — contentment is countercultural. It’s rebellious. It’s antithetical to everything that the world tries to force on us every moment of every day.
I’ll be honest: I’ve bought into the hype. I’ve bought into the striving, the goal setting, the self improvement, the desire to get better and become better. But no matter how much better I seem to get, happiness seems to be an illusive companion, flitting off into the distance. No matter how fast I run, happiness runs faster.
I wonder if, in order to catch happiness, I need to stop running. Perhaps happiness isn’t the product of trying to become better, accomplish just one more thing, or fix just one more thing about ourselves. Perhaps happiness is being content in the current situation that you find yourself, no matter what that situation may be.
I think that whatever it is we’re trying to do, or whatever it is we are trying to avoid, at the core of why we do what we do in life, we’re all trying to find happiness. If you ask yourself, “why do I want to accomplish X thing?” The answer, if you dig deep enough, is that we think it will help us be happier.
One more bit of brutal honesty: I think I’m naturally a discontent person. I think we all are, but maybe I am more than others. Whereas some people can sit in a lawn chair on the beach, stare at the waves, and just soak it all in, I can only do that for… oh, maybe two hours at most. And after that point, I want to go do something. I want to accomplish something. I need to move my body.
I’m beginning a journey to discover what it means to be content. Because I don’t think that being content necessarily means being able to just sit in that lawn chair on the beach for days on end, staring at the waves, and simply existing. Maybe it is, but I have a nagging feeling that true contentment comes from being absolutely satisfied and at peace with who you are as an individual. And some individuals can’t sit still — I’m one of those. So maybe to become content, I need to make peace with my need to be on the move.
At this point, I don’t have any answers, only questions. But I’m embarking on a journey to find the answers because… well, I guess I’m discontent with my lack of contentment. While this journey to find contentment is a very personal one, I invite you to join me on this quest. While contentment may be the ultimate countercultural rebellion, I think it just might have the power to transform the world, one person at a time.