When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, “Oh yes! I already have everything that I really need.”
– Dalai Lama
What does it take to be truly content? In our American culture it seems that people are searching for contentment in stuff or the latest and greatest gadget. This is due in part to planned obsolesce of just about everything we purchase these day.
This fall will mark five years since my wife endured chemotherapy for cancer. My number one priority during this time period was caring for her. Every two weeks I went with her and played Scrabble while she was infused with toxic drugs to kill the cancer cells. When it comes to Scrabble, I’m not even close to being in the same league as my wife. But I was content to loose because I knew it gave my wife something that she enjoyed while sitting for hours surrounded by others who were also battling cancer. It may sound odd, but even during these times in the infusion clinic, I found contentment.
While shopping with my daughter during that same time period, I found myself in a store filled with everything you could imagine but there was nothing I found myself wanting. All I saw was people pushing around carts filled with items that would some day end up in a garage sale or a landfill. I found no contentment during that shopping trip.
One of the things I have always wanted to do was to drive across the country. We decided to turn a wedding and family reunion into a Route 66 road trip.
The goal was to have a schedule that was flexible enough to stop and enjoy anything that was interesting. In a two week period my wife and I drove just shy of 6,500 miles and passed through 15 states. On many of the back roads we found ourselves all alone. Much of this time the radio was off. On the Loneliest Road in America I counted the number of markers per mile and found it averaged 14 per mile. I found contentment on this road trip.
Life is not about the latest gadget, the most exotic car, the right clothes or the grandest house. Life is about the journey and what we learn along the way. Life is about taking the time to help someone who is having a bad day. Life is taking the time to just listen. Life is taking a risk to keep someone else out of harms way. Contentment can only be found when we accept where we are in life and look for the good that makes us happy.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
– Apostle Paul