Contentment is the accepting of things as they presently exist. That means accepting the past too, because that brought about the present. It means accepting the future also because it is just the continuing flow of present moments into the future from the past. Although filled with an abundance of hubris, all humanity has vanishingly small effect on the history of the universe or its present or its future. Our impact is miniscule in the vastness of the universe. And yet, in our personal world, immersed in the totality of humanity, we loom large in our personal estimation and feel we are infinitely important. We as individuals do realize we are only a micropart of humanity and have little impact upon the whole of it, so our responsibility to humanity is only slightly greater than toward the universe as a whole. So when I say accept reality to achieve contentment that really isn’t saying much, because we are only responsible for things we can affect, and as we have so very little impact on these things we have no real choice in the matter. We are forced to accept reality and humanity as it is and so we might as well be willing accept it and in so doing achieve a major step toward contentment.
A parallel problem exists with our own self. We have our personal consciousness and it seems important, and we feel we are in control of it, but this is mostly an illusion. Our conscious behavior is almost totally mediated by our brain and our social setting, which has been controlled by what our habitual learning brought to us. To a tiny extent we placed ourselves into environments where we learned to behave in certain ways. For an occasional brief moment we are compelled by circumstance to make a considered decision about the environment we are going to place ourselves within. We choose whether to join the army or go to college. We choose whether to study on Saturday nights or go binge drinking with our classmates. We choose to watch Tosh.0 or Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? Each of these decisions will obviously affect the environment we will be in for a while, and it is while we are in those environments that we develop our habits. Once those habits are ingrained and fully functional there is no changing them, although there is a small possibility of overriding them, but that requires a lot of effort, which is rarely made. We are mostly automatons with a very few, and very occasional decision points for changing who we are and what we do.
Upon those two realities, the outer one of the universe and the inner one of our own personal zombie creation, we struggle through time and our lives. I have briefly developed those to show just how little impact we have on either the outer world or the inner one. Our impact is almost an infinity of nothing times an infinity of nothing, and that is why we might as well accept reality both outer and inner and be content with the totality of the universe, ourselves included.
Evil now must be confronted, and it has been a great stumbling block for the religions and philosophies. Why does evil and the suffering it brings to humans exist in a natural world or in one with all-powerful and loving deities? With my world view of the absolute acceptance of reality, my self included as part of reality, there can be contentment even though my conscious self rejects evil. Evil things can be vastly greater than my ability to cope with them, considering the tiny ability I have to affect things. And, if I have no ability to affect something, I have no personal responsibility; it is simply part of the universe of the way things exist, and thus I have no need for personal guilt. Thus I can be content with the world and with myself.
There remains that tiny bit of self-control with which we have a tiny bit of effect upon ourselves and upon the world, and it is that quantity of control which should be the measure of the load of responsibility and of guilt which we bear. So, in the vast world within which we live, almost all of it can be filled with contentment, and we leave a little sliver of guilt for humanity’s creation of evil and a tiny sliver of that guilt as our personal burden. The rest of our lives and thoughts can be filled with contentment.
We choose our level of guilt with ourselves and contentment with the world.