I have been reading a book called Mindfulness and Money by Kulananda and Dominic Houlder. In the chapter called “Cultivate Contentment” there is this quote:
So much of our consumption stems from a desire simply to be here now, fully alive in the moment. But rather than trying to get there by buying things, we can short-circuit the process and get there by dropping our neurotic desires and waking up to the feel of the breeze on our cheek and the warmth of the sun on our arms. Just attending to simple, fleeing sensations we can experience the wonder and beauty of simply being alive. The monetization and commodification of all aspects of our lives deadens us to the beauty of life itself.
It’s funny when an author, someone I have never met, captures what I have been trying to achieve in a simple, succinct paragraph. They are not speaking of giving up every possession and living like a monk. They are trying to get us all to remember that life is beautiful, and we should be more aware of the small wonders that life gives us every day. Contentment will never come from a new pair of shoes, a bigger car, or more cable channels.
The release of things material, the pure pleasure in movement and moment, is embodied in the poem by Tim Deegan called The Bike:
Here’s an excerpt:
and for a few blissful moments…
everything passes by strangely quiet and slow
and blurry and clear and fast at the same time
and there is no thought of work
or house payments or music
or even self
Without the bike, would this moment exist? No. The idea here is not to give up all possessions, it is to determine the ones that truly make you happy or supply a need and chuck the rest. Then take what you have and immerse yourself in the moments that life brings, each and every one, good and bad, because in the end only experiencing life with our full self will bring true happiness.
We should pursue the things that bring us joy, the moments in life when we are fully in the moment, embracing life and all it has to offer. Life is not money, or power, or possessions, it is the sun in our hair, the wind in our face, the times when our muscles or mind are screaming from exertion, the love that we feel from our friends and families. Accept what life has to offer, give up the “things” that are holding you back. Less really is more. When we figure out what we need, instead of what we want, then our real desires will be fulfilled and we will be content. Content does not equal static. Contentment comes when we understand what is important to us, and we pursue it relentlessly, finding that sweet spot and dwelling in it as much as possible. It is never material items. It is always something less tangible.