One of the finest qualities of being human

"Contentment makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor."
— Benjamin Franklin

"A contented heart is a calm sea in the midst of all storms."
— Anonymous


You do not need to spend hours meditating on a mountain top in order to experience contentment, serenity, inner peace, tranquility, and simplicity.

In fact, those qualities can be yours if you are willing to set aside the mind’s disquieting chatter—and listen to the gentle voice that counters your internal criticisms, opinions, and worries that fill you with tension and stress.

If you sit quietly and listen carefully, eventually you can hear a message that tells you life need not be frantic so much of the time. You may also hear words that convey clearly the message that inner peace is a gift we all deserve and that you can achieve it if you’re willing to learn.

Of course, a pandemic clearly adds stress that ordinary times do not. However, when you think back to the time before you were forced to curtail your normal activities, were you contented? Did you experience inner peace every day? Probably not. So, blaming the pandemic for not being contented may be a red herring.

If you are willing to create more simplicity in your life, there are thousands of resources upon which you can call. The Internet will supply you with enough to make progress on your goal—if you don’t let yourself get distracted by all the enticements that create the demand you be someone you are not and buy things that you don’t really have a need for.

Want to be more content with your life? First, turn off all those electronic devices that demand your attention and suggest that you aren’t doing enough and don’t have enough. Is it really important if the Joneses are getting ahead?

Then begin your quest for serenity and contentment by simply being in the present moment. Whatever your circumstances and wherever you find yourself, is a good place and time to experience life.

An Exercise to BE HERE NOW.

Practice this exercise as often as you need in order to be content with life as you experience it today, in this moment.

As you begin this exercise, I invite you to take a deep breath . . . and, as you slowly exhale, let go of what happened just a moment ago, right before you took a deep breath.

Just be here now, in this moment. . . . And now, take another deep breath and, as you slowly exhale, let go of what you plan to do when you are through with this brief exercise. Simply be here now, in this moment. . . .

As you return to your normal breathing pattern, let each "in" breath be a reminder to be here now, doing this exercise . . . and let each "out" breath be a letting go of whatever you are holding onto in the past or whatever you are worried about in the future. . . . Take several moments to just be aware of the present moment. . . .

As you let go of the past and the future, you may want to use your breath to remind you to be aware of the present. You can do this by realizing that no matter how hard you try, you cannot take a breath right now (no matter how full you fill your lungs) that you can use five minutes from now. Similarly, you could not have taken a breath five minutes ago to use right now. Each breath can only be used for one moment in time. And so, allow your breath to remind you to be here now. . . .

And now, in this moment, feel your back resting on your chair and notice what that is like. . . . Continuing to focus awareness on your body, notice your feet and how they feel in your shoes or, if you aren't wearing shoes, how they feel when you wiggle your toes. . . . Now turn your attention to your hands and what they are doing. Are they resting on your lap or on the furniture or do you have a hand on the keyboard or on the mouse?. . . How does your chest feel right now? . . . How does your stomach feel? . . . Right now, at this moment, allow yourself to be as fully aware of your body's sensations as you can. . . .

Notice that you can continue to be here now, in this moment, letting go of past and future, willing to experience this moment in a time which has never been before and will

never be again. . . . In other words, BE HERE NOW because you don't have any other "now."

Exploring CONTENTMENT in Your Life

What does contentment mean to you?

What most prevents you from being content with what you have and do?

When you remember times when you have been most content with your life, what most helped to make that possible?

How do others know that you are content with who you are and what you do?

What symbol best represents contentment—something that can remind you of this important quality when you begin to feel the stress of not being enough, not having enough, and not doing enough?

This exploration of contentment was created by Arlene Harder, MA, MFT, resident of Villa Gardens, a Front Porch Retirement Community in Pasadena, California. The material is not copyrighted and may be used with attribution. (Photo by Arlene Harder.)