People are familiar with the life quests — happy, healthy, wise and wealthy — but not so much with the acceptance of beingness at the end of the search for contentment. That strikes me as strange because the end goal of each of those others is to achieve contentment – the knowledge that all is right with the world and one’s relationship with it. A life of contentment really is more vibrant and lively than the usual big four quests.
Here is a problem for which I found no ready-made answers. What are a contented person’s obligations to humanity? A person with wealth is expected to help needy people. A happy person is expected to give cheer to a person in misery. A healthy person is expected to give aid to sick ones. And a wise person is expected to share his learning to help the under-informed. But what is a contented person to share? It would seem that it would be to give a discontented person contentment, like the wealthy man giving a poverty-stricken one some money, but what is there for a contented person to give? Contentment is in one’s personal relationship with the reality around him and with the universe in general. It is easy to say those words, but the words are like telling someone to go walk on the Moon. They are easy words to say, but impossible to obey. I spoke to Buzz Aldrin once, who did walk on the Moon, and he could say from personal experience that it wasn’t too difficult once you had done all the prerequisite steps.
Contentment is as easy as walking on the Moon, once you have taken all the prerequisite steps. Having an abundance of the big four, happy, healthy, wise and wealthy, isn’t necessary for contentment, but having a sufficiency of them clearly is needed. An acutely depressed person can feel little but emotional pain and relief from it, the desperately sick one can think of little but their physical pain and how to survive it, a foolish person can think of little but the cruelties of the world and his wild reactions, and a penurious man can think of little but getting the resources to care for himself and his family.
How much of life’s necessities is needed for contentment? Every person must answer that question for themselves. However, if you could go sit for an hour in a quiet place and not need anything more for that hour than to be left alone with your thoughts, could you find contentment for that hour? Being there, without your depressing thoughts, your nausea and pain, your moral quibbling, your financial obligations, just sitting quietly and feeling comfortable and at one with the world. If you could do that for a single hour it seems that you could do it more often if you chose, and then again, and then in more turbulent situations. If this is possible then it should be possible for you to reach a state where you are contented most of the time no matter what the situation.
Perhaps a contented person’s obligation to the world is to present to the other people of this world a person living with themselves and with their world in a complete and interactive way. When contented persons do this, even for a few moments, it gives the whole world of people a boost toward contentment themselves. People are natural imitators and the more opportunities they have for seeing contentment in action, the more readily they will be able to go there themselves.
Familiarity with contentment breeds contentment.