Saturday, February 14, 2009

Being Content

We all try to move up in our life and career and in the process some of us fail to enjoy the present by not giving enough attention and time. People consider all options on earth to advance and infact many of us sacrifice a lot in moving to greener pastures like US,UK,Canada,Gulf etc... Couples live and work in different locations to make themselves affordable and in the end they can't even afford a normal life. Personally I have been talking with many regarding business ideas. I am trying to get a new job eventhough I have one. Ofcourse, people have many reasons to make money and amass wealth and one of them is to get recognized and respected. It works in the reverse as well. I was talking to one our friends Michael(IPS) and he says that he is not even getting time to eat lunch. Here, he has the required recognition and respect but still ends up with something to qualm about. Either content or discontent is not only about money but it has many facets to it. It can be a relationship with someone or with relative, it can be about our society, it can be about kids......It could be anything.

So,the question is, are we content enough? the answer probably is "NO". But why? Why the answer should not be "YES"? I tried to collect different perceptions and I give here the details of what I read from few articles.

The first one that I liked the most is the one written by Guy Browning in Guardian. I give here the excerpts of his article.

"Contentment is nature's Prozac. It keeps you going through the bad times and the good without making too much fuss of either. Happiness is a fine marmalade but contentment is a citrus grove. Children are naturally content because they don't know any different. It's the knowledge of difference that breeds discontent and it's when you finally realise that difference makes no difference that you can reclaim contentment.

It may sound dull, but being content is a profoundly radical position. It means you have no outstanding needs that other people, events or corporations can satisfy. Contentment is the real peace of mind insurance policies claim to sell. Its definition varies between people but generally includes someone to love, somewhere to live and something to eat. And, almost always, one item of sentimental value.

The path to contentment is well signposted but generally points in the opposite direction to where we want to travel. Instead we rush off getting everything we want and then realise we don't need any of it. A quicker way to contentment is to realise you don't need any of the things you think you want before spending 40 years trying to acquire them.

Being happy with your lot seems to be the essence of contentment. If you are one of life's good-looking millionaires, you just have to accept your fate and not continually struggle against it. Being unhappy with your lot is perfectly understandable when the one you've been given is absolute rubbish. Sadly there is no cosmic car boot sale where you can get rid of the lot you're not happy with. All you can do is look at other people's car boots and be happy with the junk you've got in your own".

His views that appear in bold are the ones that I liked the most. But "discontent" is the one that made many success stories and "content" is the one that saved many a lives. I saw an interview of famous tamil lyricist Vaali and he said that he was struggling to come up in his initial days as he was pitting against Kannadasan at that time and he decided to commit sucide.
But he changed his mind after hearing the song "Unakkum Keezhe Ullavar Kodi, Ninaithu Paarthu Nimmadi Naadu" written by Kannadasan. So, the perception of both "Content" and "Discontent" has its followers.

I read another internet article (The Secret Of Being Content) by one Larry Brody, and I got even more curious. You can read his entire article at the following link.

My understanding after reading the article is "Contented man is Discontent".

Once Winston Churchill said,

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm" and I am sure only few people can identify themselves with this quote.

The article by Donald Latumahina lists 8 points to be content with your life (Reasons for being Discontented).

I quote "Sometimes we may feel stressed or even depressed in life. Things can go wrong and not go as expected. While there may be other causes for such situations, I believe one important cause is unrealistic expectations.

Either they come from ourselves or from other people, unrealistic expectations cause us to ride mental roller-coaster. When we succeed, we will feel very happy or even ecstatic. But when we fail, we will feel very disappointed. Our mental condition goes up and down like a roller-coaster.

We need to avoid that, of course. Here are some tips on how to do it so that you can minimize stress and be content with our life:

1. Focus on actions rather than results

Focusing on results is a sure way to experience the ups and downs of emotional roller coaster. Even worse, there is not much you can do about it since you can’t control the results. So you should focus on something you can control instead, and one thing you can certainly control is your actions.

Instead of worrying about results, spend your time thinking about what to do and how to do it. The role of results is to give you feedback to refine your actions, but no more than that. Look at the results, get feedback to refine your actions, and then focus on the actions.

2. Have fun; don’t take things too seriously

We often take things too seriously to the point of being obsessed with them. Don’t do this. Instead, make everything you do fun. Having fun will certainly makes you less stressed while at the same time make the journey much more pleasant. One way to do so is by seeing things as games; something which are fun to do despite some winnings and loses. Another way to do it is by looking for hidden pleasures in whatever you do.

3. Don’t compare yourself with others

A study shows that we care more about how much money we have relative to everyone else than we do about how much money we have. It shows our tendency to compare ourselves with others.

But, similar to #1, you should look at others only to get feedback on how to do things better. Beyond that, comparing yourself with others will only do two things:

Make you down, if you are worse than them.
Boost your ego, if you are better than them. But this will only make the next failure more painful.
So learn something from others, set your goals, and refine your actions. Beyond that, don’t compare yourself with others.

4. Focus on being what you love rather than being loved

One reason why we feel stressed is we are worrying too much about what other people say about us. We are busy trying to meet other people’s expectations that we may end up living someone else’s life. Don’t focus on being loved; life is too short to be spent living someone else’s life. Instead, focus on being what you love. Cultivate your passions and do what really matters to you.

5. Cultivate abundance mentality

Scarcity mentality says that there is only limited amount of resources available so that other people’s gain is your loss. Having this mentality will make you stressed, especially when your peers become more successful than you. So, cultivate abundance mentality instead. Abundance mentality says that there is enough resources for everyone; someone else’s gain is not your loss. There is enough for everyone to prosper.

6. Make failure your friend

Failure is normal part of successful life. In fact, it is a friend of successful people. I love this quote by Thomas J. Watson:

Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.

The more failure you make, the more likely it is that you will be successful. Make failure your friend, and it will be much easier for you to go through each one. Seeing things as games (see #2) is one way to make yourself comfortable with failure.

7. Look back and not just look ahead

Seeing how far we are from our goals may make us stressed, especially if our mind is occupied with it. So you need to also look back and see how far you have walked. What achievements have you got? What are your success stories? Remembering these will make you feel grateful for your current position in life.

8. Cultivate your enthusiasm

Enthusiasm makes you excited about life. It makes you excited about where you are now no matter how difficult the situation might seem. It energizes you to always do your best.

In fact, the ability to maintain enthusiasm despite failures and difficulties is an essential trait of successful people".


senthil April 30, 2009 at 3:16 AM  

Hi Kumaran,

Thanking you from my heart.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Stocks as well as Life quotes.
As you mentioned in this article "live your life" , if everyone started living their life then they would be able to think clearly about life n goals. or also you can say visa-versa -- think with clear thoughts to live your life.

I am very happy to read your articles. I have read 50% of your post in 2 days.:D

Once again thank you.
Keep the good job.


Kumaran April 30, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

Thanks for your comments senthil. I really appreciate it.

D. Pat November 4, 2009 at 7:42 PM  

Dear All,

Some people live to eat and some eat to live. Those who live to eat only they will never be content in their life. They will be always unhappy, making complaints regarding their life.

Be content and happy


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