Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bone of 'Content'ion

‘Contentment’, something that is found, lost, discussed, pondered and defined by many. Scholars, philosophers, intellectuals, God-men, all have tried to know this unknown state of human mind. It’s difficult to define, as while walking on the road to decipher contentment several other questions cross our path, like, meaning of life, goals of life, aim of existence etc. These questions are not only complex because they make you think and rethink your thoughts, actions and reactions but also because there are no right answers. Every answer has its own questions.

My understanding about contentment is same as its dictionary definition, that is, a state of happiness and satisfaction, however, I think that many of us including me misunderstand contentment as the state of being happy with less. Often we use ‘contentment’ to describe being happy with the present state of life, living in less or living with something which is not considered success in social terms. Have you ever heard someone saying that a rich man is content? He may be, just because he has lot of money and wants to earn more, does not make him any less content. Or does it? Why only simple living does leads to contentment?

When I look around, the definition that society (Indian society in which I grew) gives to me of ‘contentment’ is very different. I don’t know what it has to do with satisfaction or happiness but yes, absence of ambition to progress or not trying for lavishness is contentment by social standards. That’s what I have perceived from observing social interactions about contentment.

Lately, I have experienced a new sense of contentment, perhaps a new sub- definition. Contentment may be being happy with your present state of life but for sure it should not be misinterpreted as the passive state of mind. If I have ambitions to grow in my career, or to earn more money, buy a condo or a Ferrari, wear branded stuff and dine in Michelin’s, then to be content, all I have to do is to put efforts to make my dreams come true. If I am satisfied with my efforts then I am as content as a sage. You may feel this as an exaggeration, but, trust me it’s not. Different paths don’t mean difference in the feeling of contentment. A 10 mile run for a marathon runner or 10 steps for an amputee, is progress and contentment. Ambitions and contentment can go hand in hand. Anyone can be happy and unsatisfied at the same time or sad and satisfied. For a person like me, if I don’t have something to look forward too, I am not content. I love the struggle and somehow make myself always available for one. I am happy when I am striving, that makes me feel living. I am only content when I am challenging myself or else I feel drained.

When happiness joins satisfaction, it becomes contentment, but again, this satisfaction may not necessarily define what you already have. A day well spent according to your personal standards can give you a content sleep. Happiness should not be our end goal, happiness should be the journey. And contentment should be related to happiness and not to satisfaction. You don’t have to define your contentment or try to be content. It will come to you. You don't have to sit on the river side in utmost silence or go to serene mountains to feel the cool breeze touch your face, to find meaning in life or feel content. Your piece of contentment can be kept in the corner of a disco as you love to dance. Don't go by any stereotype law of contentment, find yours. After so many years, today, while writing this article, I have understood the meaning of journey and destination and the real meaning of,
                         कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
                        मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

(You can control the efforts but not the results, but if you will start defining your efforts with results, you will never enjoy the journey of efforts.)
It is all about efforts. Your honesty towards your efforts brings contentment and nothing else can. In my words, I want to say,
If results make you rethink about your efforts, perhaps the results are right.