It is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
I like this quote, as it is a reminder of something we all know, and have experienced, yet so often forget. This quote is a reminder of all the days when we didn’t have the “gotta have” item in our life, yet somehow managed to be happy.
Contentment is defined at thefreedictionary.com as “peace of mind; mental or emotional satisfaction.” How do you find that in the outside world? Think about that for a moment.
How do you get peace of mind from something or someone else? They can provide the tools which allow YOU to get there, but that’s up to you, not them, to find contentment.
The same goes for happiness. Others can contribute, but it is up to you to decide you will be happy. There are plenty of people with all the neat things, good friends and family, yet are unhappy. Again it is up to you to choose happiness.
Why is choosing important?
We choose many things in our lives. Our clothes, what we eat, what we do with our time. Yes, there are constraints and limits to everything. But we can choose to let that bother us, or we can choose to ignore the limitations and be happy anyway.
Just ask anyone who has faced a life threatening injury or disease how they feel each morning. Are they happy just to have another day? The ones I know are. They have learned to choose to be happy, despite pain, despite long odds, despite their treatment and rehab.
We can learn from their experiences, if we choose to do so. Again, it is a choice, and we can also choose not to learn. Just as we can choose to feel the contentment and happiness within ourselves. Or not. But either way, it is a choice, even if we try to avoid the decision.
Where can I apply this in my life?
A recent example was an upgrade to my internet service. Oh, I was going to be so happy with the newest, fastest, zippiest internet I had ever experienced. At least that is how it looked on the sales page. However, reality wasn’t quite that nice.
The new modem arrived, but the workers were backlogged. Frustration, my happiness was being delayed! Then the day came. The old equipment didn’t work with the new service, and the new equipment didn’t work with the old service, so I couldn’t even do a pre-install dry run.
So my happiness awaited me when I got home from work that afternoon. I wasn’t back on the net for over 24 hours. Even now, months later, true internet happiness eludes me, due to all the changes I had to make to get back online. The Network-Attached-Storage seems to be working now, but the repeater is down.
Yes, I love my tech. I love making it work, even when it is reluctant. I was jubilant in overcoming the obstacles the puny tech tried to throw in my way. But that’s not the path to true contentment and happiness. That’s the euphoria of victory in battle. And that’s a different thing.
The same thing happened with a phone upgrade. Lots of stuff was broken and needed to be re-installed and reconfigured. Not a lot of happy with the new shiny tech-toy. But I enjoyed crushing it’s feeble attempts at resistance. I also was glad it was me, and not someone who wouldn’t know what to do.
So how do you find happiness or contentment within yourself? I believe we already know how to do that, even if we don’t consciously do it. That is where I would focus my energy and time. Like any other muscle, real or emotional, it will take repetitions and increasing weight to strengthen.
Have you ever looked back on a hectic day, and yet found yourself contented because of what you accomplished? I imagine you also have felt very little contentment on similar days, because you chose to focus on what was not accomplished.
Every day has things that get done and those which do not. Your attitude, and the quality of your life will depend on which side you choose to place your focus. We can learn to choose contentment and happiness as our default answer, or we can go the other way. Which do you prefer? Which is more fun for you?
It is a choice, no different than the choice of clothes to wear on the outside of ourselves. We can choose the ‘clothes’ we wear on the inside. I recommend the contentment and happiness line. One size may not fit all, but you can always tailor it to suit. 8)
- Practicing Gratitude (conquerinspiteof.com)
- Happiness Is Within Oneself (coalitionofpositiveenergy.com)
- The Dalai Lama hearts George W. Bush (theblaze.com)
- Linda Thomas Brooks: One Very Wise Insight From The Dalai Lama (huffingtonpost.com)