“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” -Unknown

I have been working at the same heart empowerment meditation for years. The idea is to open the heart to love and light and to consciously extract pain and suffering and release it. I had never before been able to see or feel light in my heart until today. It came from the recognition of how grateful I am for how things are in my life. This feeling of gratitude was not one that was conjured but just washed over me and it seems to me that all it took was a very slight change in my focus.

Most of the issues that plague us in life all just need the light of our attention. Even the most tenacious and difficult parts of our personality, the fear and insecurities that prevent us from having the life we want are transformed simply by shifting our focus and seeing ourselves without judgment. Mohammed said, “Patience is the key to contentment.” I believe he was talking about having patience with ourselves, holding our gaze at our own struggles, and not averting our eyes, we become our true selves.

There are some that warn against the laziness of a contented heart, as though by feeling good about where you are in life, will somehow inhibit you from striving to be an even better version of yourself. Contentment should not be confused with complacency. Henry Ward Beecher’s perspective clarifies this: “We are not to make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to raise; and both flying and resting are parts of one contentment.”

The kind of contentment that I aspire to is the interior kind, trusting that when I turn inward I will be able to feel a light in my heart, that regardless of my business dealings or how a day unfolds for better or worse on my bank balance, that I have the ongoing sense that I am enough. What a gift to begin your days by wanting what you have, not having what you want. Then anything that gets added is bonus.

This is the best list I could find in aspiring to a contented life by Johann Wolgang von Goethe. It definitely deserves a print out…

Nine Requisites for Contented Living:

1. Health enough to make work a pleasure.

2. Wealth enough to support your needs.

3. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.

4. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.

5. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.

6. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.

7. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.

8. Faith enough to make real the things of God.

9. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.