Contentment: The Path to True Happiness
There is a saying that “the grass is always greener on the other side.” This means that we always think that what others have is better than what we have. It also means that we are always thinking that our neighbor has more than we have or is happier than we are. While we are thinking in that way about our neighbors, they are also thinking the same way about us. We want what they have and they want what we have.
Living in a state of discontent
Lord Buddha taught the lesson of desirelessness. “Be desireless,” he would say. Desires lead us to a state in which we are always seeking that which we do not have. We begin to feel unhappy and dissatisfied as long as our desires are not fulfilled. In this state we cannot truly enjoy that which we do have. The desires keep us focused on their fulfillment and we spend a lot of energy trying to attain them. Each day that we do not have them fulfilled is another day of unhappiness for us. Thus, people live their lives in this state of discontent. It is only when we are content with what we have that we are truly happy.
The secret to desires is that it is not the object we desire. It is the mind’s tendency to always be in a state of desire. It leads us into attachment to things of this world. It distracts us from the true purpose of our human life—to bring about the communion of our soul with God. That is the only true and lasting happiness. All other desires for things of this world only lead to unhappiness because nothing is permanent in this world.
Learning to control desires
We ultimately lose that which is worldly through separation, destruction, decay, or death. Even people whom we love are not permanent because we must leave this world or they leave the world through physical death.
Nothing and no one in this world is lasting. Only our soul and God are lasting. All else is illusion. If we devote our time to seeking that which is not permanent, we may gain it for a while, but it will not last.
That same amount of time can be devoted to bringing about the union of our soul with God. That alone is a lasting gain. With it comes eternal peace, bliss, and contentment.
In living a life of contentment, we take joy in whatever comes our way. We thank the Lord for whatever God sends us and keep our thoughts absorbed in finding God within. We relish the time we can spend in meditation, in doing service for others, and in loving all humanity. We derive joy in seeing the smiles on the faces of others whom we have helped or to whom we have shown some kindness. We feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that we have done our best each day to help others as well as to help ourselves find God through meditation.
Let us resolve to develop contentment. Let us develop the habit of thanking God for everything we have. Let us develop the control to eliminate desires. The highest state is to say, “Not my will, but Thy Will, O Lord.”