Dharma smiled and said, "Tadpole they are not always the same same thing, but for a frog to be truly happy, he must also be contented." I was perplexed, and it must have shown, because Dharma began to explain why they are different, yet the can be the same. Simply put, happiness is an emotion while contentment is a mental, or emotional, state of satisfaction. My wise teacher went to say, "Irwin, remember how happy you got to go on your first international trip? You were happy, weren't you?" "Yes, very," I quickly replied. "Well, Irwin, that is the emotion of being happy; you felt gleeful, light, almost euphoric. But, did you feel fully satisfied?" I shook my head no. "Then, my son, you were not contented." I was beginning to understand. What I then went on to learn was, for me, a revalation.
Humans and frogs, alike, want to be happy. But happiness is often be a moving target; we want something, we acquire it, we're happy. But then, suddenly, we're no longer happy because something, or someone, else comes along and catches our eye. The cycle starts all over. That really is kind of sad; because happiness is available to all of us; right here, right now. And it doesn't take a fat bank account, power, or status. So how do we obtain this happiness? By being contented with our lives the way they are. It's that simple. When Dharma explained it to me, I was gobsmacked.
Contenment is the key to true and lasting happiness. Most of us have a hard time accepting that we already possess everything we need to be happy. I know, I can hear you lamenting..."What? You mean I don't NEED anything else? That can't be! Why just this morning I heard that buying a new (...) would make me me happier, more successful, more lovable." According to Dharma, and other great inspirational leaders, that's just simply not the case. That's great news, right? It should be a HUGE relief.
Once we learn that material "stuff" doesn't make us happy or successful, we can begin to see beauty and value in our everyday lives...friendships, family, the majesty of nature. These things can, in reality, offer us far more happiness than some silly new doo-dad ever will. But being content doesn't mean standing still. We have to keep moving; becoming stagnant won't keep us contented for long. This means striving each and every day to become the best version of ourselves; aiming for that next level. And being our best doesn't require big promotions or raises. All it requires is an "attitude of gratitude." I know, this is getting to be a tired and wornout platitude but it still rings true. If we're grateful for all the things we already have in our lives, then we become contented with the way things are. Contentment, then, leads to a feeling of inner peace and a deep sense of happiness that we are alive. Happiness and contenment are like twins...alike, but with their own individual differences.
As the Dharma finished the last of his tea and toast, he parted with a final message. "If you learn but one thing today, Little One, let it be that the frog who is contented, is rich mean measure." As I watched him hop away, I began to think about my own life and all the things I have; family, friends, love, a wise teacher, my ability to write, and you, my readers. I have much to be grateful for. And, I dare say, I am both happy and contented. Which, I now know, makes me me a very rich frog indeed! And I don't even need to open a new bank account to hold my wealth. There's plenty of room deep inside me.
Thanks for reading. I hope you'll stop by tomorrow for another blog about.....