Are you content?
Posted on Nov 30, 2017 by Default Admin User
What does it mean to be grateful? We hear this word all the time, but do we ever take the time to truly understand what it means? Just the other day a client asked me something that made a significant impact on the way I think about the word gratitude. She asked me to list the things I am grateful for. She waited while I thought to myself about all the things that would make my list. My children, my sisters, my mom, my family, my friends, my health, my career, my yoga practice, my teaching. Then she asked me, “How far down the list did you get before you thought about yourself?” It hadn’t even occurred to me to put myself on that list. We spend a lot of time thinking about the external things we are grateful for, all the things that bring joy to our lives, but we never think to be grateful for ourselves.
In order to be grateful we must first find contentment in the things we already have and the things we already are. So what does it mean to be content? Contentment is the knowledge that we have everything we need. It does not mean that we do not have wants or desires. It means that those wants and desires are recognized as progress in our lives, rather than the things we feel we need to be happy. True contentment comes from the understanding that everything we need, we already have. Contentment and gratitude are things we find within us, not outside of us. We all hold the power to find true happiness, which comes with gratitude for who we are and what we have.
So how can we put this into practice in our lives? I personally struggle with this every day. We have the power to change the way we think about what we need and want. However, it is not something that comes with ease for me. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life. I believe this anxiety stems from thinking I need things in my life that aren’t currently there. I often find myself comparing the things I have to the things of others. I find myself searching for external things to bring joy into my life. There is a tendency for us to think that if we had a better job, made more money, found a relationship, or had a nicer car, then we would finally be happy. When you think about it, this is a false sense of happiness because external things don’t satisfy our hearts.
Nothing outside of us will ever bring us the joy we are searching for. True happiness lives within. Never will an external source bring us joy. Why do we feel the need to give the power of true happiness for ourselves to another person, place or thing? We may feel content for a while, but then the new fades and we are left searching for the next shiny thing to bring us happiness. If we can learn to shift our thoughts from not having or being enough, to realizing we already have all we need, we can start to find happiness, joy and gratitude for all that life has given us.
When asked to list the things you are grateful for, how far down on your list do you get before you find yourself? We must move ourselves to the top of the list. We must finally and truly realize, all that we are is enough. All that we have is enough. We stop looking outward and start looking inward. When we can do this, we will find contentment and gratitude.