I wonder how many of us can really define contentment. I guess different folks–even different writers like me–will define it in varying ways, and probably change their definitions depending on current circumstances. How would you define it? It takes some thinking, doesn’t it!
I like what author Robert J. Wicks says in his book, “Streams of Contentment.” Wicks, a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam, and now the author of more than forty books, lists what I would call a few steps toward contentment:
-Be clear about what is truly essential
-Appreciate everything and everyone in your life now
-Know what a renewing community is
-Recognize that a little silence and solitude is no small thing.
Big ideas, those! They take some thinking about, don’t they.
He advises: “Contentment is not a fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of what you already have.” He ought to know–there were dark-thought days in the wilderness during his own journey from Vietnam to today’s contentment.
Is your today going well? What contentment issues do you have? Let’s see, as a writer, I often awaken each morning with an awareness of unfulfilled tasks and “I wish” dreams. (In fact, I sometimes mull these during the night as well. It does help to have made a list of what I need to accomplish on the following day, however.)
Events to plan? People to contact? On line promotion to do, and for that, how and where, to the best of my technical ability? A blog to write, since I promised myself I’d be regular about that. Or, um, pretty regular. And that’s not to mention housework, meals to prepare, chores unrelated to writing to accomplish.
Doesn’t sound like a day full of contentment, does it! However, there are many “findable” things to enjoy and be grateful for. These are often unrelated to me personally–like a sunset, or wildflowers along the roadside. There are closer-to-me things like a quick hug from my husband, watching feisty hummingbirds at the kitchen window feeder, a fulfilling conversation with a family member. And, of course, I am grateful to have a comfortable home. Career-related strings tied to my contentment today could be a bookstore eager to plan an event for my new novel, a succession of interesting Facebook comments, or (very important) words I have written that please me.
Seems to me at the moment that, wherever we are in our careers or life circumstances, it’s possible to seek and find contentment triggers. The very fact of living dictates that, doesn’t it? What else “that I already have” can I think about today?
What about you?